Catholic Educators Praise Selection of First Jesuit Pope

March 14, 2013

When the Roman Catholic church's new leader, Pope Francis, until Wednesday Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, was announced Wednesday, presidents of Catholic colleges sent out statements praising the choice ("We are excited to move forward under the leadership of Pope Francis I and we pray that the Catholic Church will grow under his guidance in wisdom and Christ’s grace," John Garvey, president of the Catholic University of America, said. "And we hope to welcome him to our campus some day.") But because Pope Francis is a Jesuit priest -- and the first of the order, whose members are generally discouraged from seeking high office within the church, to lead the world's Catholics -- Jesuit colleges in particular were happy.

"It has been a truly historic day for the Society of Jesus as we learned that our brother, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was selected to lead the Catholic Church as Pope Francis I. As Jesuits, we emphasize social justice in our ministry, and we are gratified to have a leader who will continue to live out this mission on a global stage," said the Rev. Gregory F. Lucey, president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, in a statement. College presidents echoed the message: "Pope Francis, as he has chosen to be forever known, shares a special bond with Scranton and all Jesuit colleges and universities across the globe as the first member of the Society of Jesus to be so elevated," said the Rev. Kevin P. Quinn, president of the University of Scranton. "When I heard the news that a Jesuit brother of mine would be the next Pope I was completely stunned... But that surprise yielded quickly to a profound sense of gratitude," said the Rev. Michael J. Graham, president of Xavier University.

In his role in Argentina, Pope Francis was chancellor of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina. Early in his time as a Jesuit, he taught literature, psychology and philosophy, according to the National Catholic Reporter.

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