Father Dave McGuigan, St. Joseph Catholic Community, Eldersburg
How do you feel about the new pope being elected?
Well, I'm very happy that the cardinals - I feel like they took the time that they needed to take, and it seems like it happened sooner rather than later and I'm glad for that. I know the church is eager.
How do you think his election will change the Catholic Church?
I think it's significant that he's the first pope from the southern hemisphere. He's a South American. I also think that it's significant that he chose the name Francis. There has not been a Pope Francis before now. It seems to me that must have some significance for him in terms of his style, and they way he'll serve the church to choose as a model. Saint Francis of Assisi, a poor and simple man who was known for loving creation and spreading God's love in Jesus Christ in a very simple and humble way. For some reason that seems significant to me in that way.
Are there any issues that you hope the new pope addresses?
Well, I think John Paul II and Benedict XVI have brought some things to the forefront that will continue to be responsibilities of our new pope. That is what we call the new evangelization - it's the new proclamation of the gospel message to touch people's hearts, to call people back to the Catholic Church who have drifted or left, and reach new people who maybe have not heard the gospel message yet or have not yet heard it in a way that touches their hearts. I think evangelization will be an important message. I certainly feel he brings knowledge of and experience of the growing Catholic population at least in the western part of the southern hemisphere. ... I think he'll bring an attentiveness or an awareness to the needs of the church in different parts of the world, what we call the developing world. That would be important for the global church.
What does it mean to you that there is a pope from the Americas?
I'm very excited about it. ... I think it would be good news to people at least from South America and the western part of the southern hemisphere and a signal to the whole church that we recognize the part of the world where the Catholic Church is growing and there are people of deep faith there. That seems in and of itself significant to me. I don't know what it would mean in terms of an agenda, I have no clue about it. Just a recognition that the church is truly a global reality, I think is signified by the election of this pope.