Today, Pope Francis officially became the 266th Pope for the Catholic Church, and the first representative of the New World. The 265 men who served before him were all European, but Pope Francis was born in Argentina, where he continued to serve until the church tapped him for the top job in Rome.
Luis Royo, Coordinator for Hispanic Ministries at St. Thomas More Church, told Host Frank Stasio that he is optimistic about the changes that could result from a new Papacy. “For us, it’s very significant because we had been in the shadows, I would say, and now we’re in the spotlight," he said. "There are different things and different experiences a Pope who grew up in Latin America can share with the whole world.” Royo is especially interested in Pope Francis’ focus on social justice. “Social justice is always something in the mind of every Latino because almost everyone is struggling with something related to social justice," he said. "When renting an apartment or when looking for health care you are involved in different ways with social justice issues. But unfortunately, for many Latinos, speaking out about these issues is not that easy…some of them lack papers or are in very difficult situations at work.” Latino Catholics are one of the fastest growing populations in the Triangle, and Royo anticipates the new Pope making a difference in his own community. He believes that Latino Catholics both here and elsewhere will respond positively to the new Pope, and be encouraged “to speak out and be proud of being Catholic.”