NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Catholic church bells pealed long and joyously across New Orleans after Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio became Pope Francis.
The election of a Latin American brought joy to Robert Stanley, a Chicago resident visiting New Orleans, and to the Rev. Kenneth Obiekwe, a native of Nigeria and pastor of St. John the Baptist Church in central Louisiana.
"I believe he will guide the church in the right paths, it will bring fresh air to the church," said Obiekwe, who has ministered to about 130 families in the rural Natchitoches Parish town of Cloutierville for about three years.
He said he had thought the next pope might be from Latin America, but was still surprised when it happened. "I think the church needs that at this time — somebody from a different zone," said Obiekwe, reached by phone from New Orleans, 200 miles away.
Stanley, a Catholic freshman at the University of Notre Dame, was enjoying lunch at a sidewalk cafe near a church when bells rang out. He liked the fact that Francis is from an area that has not had reports that church officials covered up sexual abuse by priests.
"I feel like the scandal and problems with the scandal are based in the U.S. and Europe, and this new pope has no ties to that," he said.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans said he believes Francis will help the church "to be a conscience to make sure that we include the poor and serve them in the name of Christ." As archbishop of Buenos Aries, he noted, Bergoglio often took buses, lived in a small apartment and showed strong concern for the poor and for issues of social justice.
Although he's 76, "he has a very youthful face and a very youthful personality that I think comes across in a very positive way," Aymond said.
Bishop Glen John Provost of Lake Charles said, "Pope Francis gives every indication of being a man of profound humility. He comes from a region of the world that is overwhelmingly Catholic and possesses great potential for the growth of the Faith."
Obiekwe said he believed the papal name signals a desire to follow in the footsteps of a man "known for revival in the church, his spirituality, the way he took an entire creation, nature itself.
"We need that kind of output to humanity," Obiekwe continued. "It ... sees the hand of God in everything. So it speaks to us of God present in our life."
Provost said in a statement, "There are two great saints named Francis. Saint Francis of Assisi had a vision in which God asked him to rebuild the Church. And Saint Francis Xavier, a Jesuit like Pope Francis, is the patron of missionary work. Both saints speak to the New Evangelization and the spiritual renewal of the Church."
Gov. Bobby Jindal learned of the election after a meeting. "I want to join folks from all over the world and offer my congratulations to the new Holy Father. We obviously offer our thoughts and prayers as he takes on this tremendous responsibility," said Jindal, who was raised a Hindu by Indian immigrant parents but converted to Catholicism as a teenager.
Not everyone was excited.
"It's ridiculous, this pomp and circumstance and smoke from the chimney. It's so archaic," said Jennifer Rogers, a New Orleans resident who said she attended Catholic school as a child in Baton Rouge but has taken to Eastern religions such as Hinduism, partly because of the church's bar against women as priests.
Gloria Pacheco, of Sabinas, Mexico, in New Orleans for her granddaughter's baptism, was delighted just to have a pope. His name hadn't yet reached the street where she and her daughter talked in downtown New Orleans, the bells of St. Patrick's Church resounding overhead.
"The Throne of St. Peter is not empty, and that feels good," Pacheco said. "I'm happy, and I feel like I can relax."
AP reporters Janet McConnaughey in New Orleans and Melinda Deslatte in Baton Rouge contributed to this report.
JUNE 19 Former Saint Steve Gleason, who is paralyzed by ALS, released a statement Tuesday in response to the Atlanta radio station's skit making fun of him and the disease, this Picayune post reports. What did he say? He said he'd accepted the apology of the DJs who did it, notes that at least the incident has got people talking about ALS, and asks anyone who is burning to take action about it to do so -- by helping him fight ALS.
JUNE 19 Blogger Ian McGibboney takes a look at the Gleason incident in this post. He makes a good argument about the difference between having free speech and being free from consequences for your speech (which none of us is). He also admits that many of us got upset before we listened to the skit -- but lets us know that the reality is far worse than we can imagine. It was the incredibly bad judgment, even more than the actual speech, that probably got those DJs fired, he opines.
JUNE 19 Washington Post blogger Aaron Blake writes about Sen. Guillory's switch to the GOP in this post. He writes what most political watchers in Louisiana know: Guillory was a Republican before he decided to run for the senate seat in a mostly-D St. Landry district, and has switched back now that he plans to run for Lt. Gov. in a mostly-R state. But how come Blake missed Guillory's appearance on a TLC pageant show? Now that is a video we'd like to see. (Again).
JUNE 19 Here's another Washington Post blog post about a Louisiana politician, and it's just plain scathing. Ezra Klein says Jindal's Politico post was "insulting" to the intelligence of voters, and adds that Jindal is personifying the "stupid" he's railed against, by being an "elite" who convinces GOP activists of "things that aren't true." Me-ow.
JUNE 19 Here's Gov. Jindal's post in Politico, in which he asks the GOP to get over losing to Obama (again) and stop "the bedwetting." (Uh, what?) He gives his Republican buddies what is probably a nerd's idea of a coach's motivational talk, which starts with a list of accomplishments that they can't seem to exploit and ending with an absurd description of liberals that sounds like a character treatment for a Fox "News" movie scripted by Gordon Liddy. Sure, he's preaching to the choir, but even the choir's not this gullible.
JUNE 19 Lamar Parmentel read Gov. Jindal's post on Politico, but thinks it was so dumb it probably was published in the wrong paper. This post by Lamar on the Daily Kingfish opines that possibly Jindal's post was destined for the Onion -- because the governor couldn't possibly be serious here. If you listen closely, you can hear the staff of the Kingfish giggling.
JUNE 19 Blogger Robert Mann posts from Turkey, a country he has visited several times in the past few years. Mann gives an interesting overview of the current political and societal climate of the country, which -- if you're living under a rock and don't know -- is experiencing protests and turmoil these days. Mann promises to post as much as he can during his trip, which should be fascinating reading.
JUNE 19 Blogger CB Forgotston says the legislature is keeping the vicious cycle going with its funding of new buildings for the community college/technical college system. Universities across the state need maintenance and improvement on existing buildings, and the solution is to build new buildings at other schools? By the time the bonds are paid off, those buildings will be falling down, too, CB says.
Frank’s Casing Crew, now doing business as Frank’s International, will make its final appearance on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana this year, and once again it will likely be at the top with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The 75-year-old company specializing in tubular fabrication and installation services to the oil and gas industry plans to offer shares of its stock to the public for the first time.
The defeat, or rather highjacking of House Bill 420 in the final days of this year's Legislative Session, say Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, is the result of the propaganda spread by one unidentified local media outlet and an unnamed former state Representative, but nothing to do with the original legislation's lack of checks, balances or details.
He’s a singer. A songwriter. A piano man. A family man. He’s even got his own Wikipedia entry. He’s David Egan. And he knows ancient secrets about the monolithic stones of Stonehenge that he’s not willing to share.