The Catholic Church has chosen a new leader, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, of Argentina, the first non-European chosen and the 266th pope is also the first to take the name Francis. In Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood, staff members at the St. Francis Inn on Kensington Ave. are hopeful that this means a change in the Catholic Church.
St. Francis Inn provides food, clothing and hospitality to the homeless and underprivileged in the city and people there model their lives after that of St. Francis of Assisi. During Thursday’s breakfast service, Rev. Steve Patti of the Franciscan Order said the pope’s chosen name has the community excited. St. Francis of Assisi dedicated his life to serving among the poor and Patti said the new pope’s history is in line with this lifestyle. “He gave up his mansion, lived in a little apartment and gave up his driver and his car and took the bus to work everyday.”
“The new Holy Father has been an outspoken champion of vulnerable people, not only the poor in his own country but also the unborn,” said Monsignor Francis Carbine, of the conservative pontiff.
Layperson Barbara Salapek spends every day at the Inn, one of ten who make sure services are running smoothly. She said that she’s hoping that a new leader will bring some needed changes in the church. “Women’s ordination, married priesthood, gay rights, those kinds of things here that touch the Americas.”