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Reaction to New Pope

Habemus Papam: Francis

As the world reacts to the announcement of a new pope, faculty experts at the University of Dayton share their thoughts and prayers for the Holy Father. You can read them below. For our experts' commentary on the papal transition, visit the related links at the bottom of the page.

A new emphasis, but deeds need to follow symbols

Dan_ThompsonDaniel Thompson, associate professor and chair, religious studies
(o) 937-229-4539,

PR Contact: Cilla Shindell, (o) 937-229-3257, (c) 937-367-2889, 

Quote: "It's a surprise in many ways, not in others. The first Jesuit, the first one to take the name Francis, the first from the developing world. Yet as the runner-up to Cardinal Ratzinger in 2005, also one within a strong sense of continuity with the legacy of John Paul II. A new emphasis perhaps, but deeds need to follow symbols."

Daniel Thompson has written about Catholic identity and the Catholic intellectual tradition. His research and writings have focused on the challenge of dissent with church authority and how faith communities stay together in the face of change. He is fluent in Italian. 

This is a change many of us younger Catholics are looking for


Jana Bennett, associate professor, religious studies
(o) 937-229-4196, 
PR Contact: Cilla Shindell, (o) 937-229-3257, (c) 937-367-2889,  

Quote: I'm excited that he chose the name Francis. Most Americans know St. Francis as a lover of peace, a lover of animals, and someone with great concern and care for the poor. But I think most importantly, St. Francis also did radical things in his call to follow Jesus. At a time where we need strong voices that are yet full of compassion and love, this name is a great gift. In addition to the symbolism of his name, of course Pope Francis also crucially represents the global South, the areas where Christianity has been underrepresented in the Vatican but where the numbers of Catholics is huge compared to the North. For a man of 76, he has a pretty good chance of appealing to younger generations of Catholics. He has lived his faith authentically in choosing not to live surrounded by expensive guards and cooks. I don't know how his presence will change the Vatican, but I think this is a change many of us "X"-ers and Millennials are looking for. 

Jana Bennett is associate editor of the blog Catholic Moral Theology ( and writes on moral theology in relation to marriage, feminism, disability, the Internet and social media.

Selection acknowledges changing face of Church

Sandra_YocumSandra Yocum, associate professor, religious studies
(o) 937-229-4322,
PR Contact: Cilla Shindell, (o) 937-229-3257, (c) 937-367-2889, 

Quote: We have a new pope: a Jesuit who has taken the name, Francisco, perhaps a sign that he will continue to live simply. Until now, he lived in an apartment and cooked his own meals. The cardinals have chosen from among themselves a man who comes from the Southern hemisphere, from the continent with the largest number of Catholics. His selection acknowledges the changing face of the Catholic Church. Pope Francisco faces many challenges in the coming day. I hope he takes a moment to take in the joy all those gathered in St. Peter's square are expressing. May he find in the people's faith inspiration for his pastoral leadership.

Sandra Yocum, president of the College Theology Society, is a well-known writer and lecturer nationally on U.S. Catholic life and thought. Her research interests include U.S. Catholic history and women in the Church, and the Catholic sex abuse crisis. She's working on a book to be published summer 2013 on clergy sex abuse. She's an associate professor of religious studies and former chair of the department.

The witness of his lifestyle and actions appeal deeply


Vincent J. Miller, professor of religious studies and Gudorf Chair in Catholic Theology and Culture
PR Contact: Cilla Shindell, (o) 937-229-3257, (c) 937-367-2889,  

Quote: "An archbishop who lives, not in a palace, but in a simple apartment; cooking his own meals and riding a bus to his office. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, a Jesuit, is the first Pope to ever chose the name Francis, after the saint known for his devotion to Christ and the poor. He has recently warned of the spiritual sickness of the Church turning in on itself:

'It's true that when you get out into the street, as happens to every man and woman, there can be accidents. However, if the church remains closed in on itself, self-referential, it gets old. Between a church that suffers accidents in the street, and a church that's sick because it's self-referential, I have no doubts about preferring the former.'

The witness of his lifestyle and actions appeal deeply, even as it's clear he will not be a charismatic media presence. May his solidarity with the poor speak to generations who find less and less to draw them to the Church. May he challenge us all to live a life more faithful to the Gospel."

Vincent J. Miller is professor and Gudorf Chair in Catholic Theology and Culture at the University of Dayton. Miller is an expert on religion and politics, religion and consumer culture, the U.S. Catholic Church's involvement in politics and public policy, social justice and public policy and the moral consequences of budgetary policies. He is author of Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture and is currently working on a book on the effect of globalization on religious belief. Formerly of Georgetown University, Miller has been widely sought for his comments on the global financial crisis, Catholic social teaching and the federal budget's impact on the poor.

Not present at Vatican II, but obviously influenced by it


Dennis Doyle, professor, religious studies
(o) 937-229-4219,
PR Contact: Cilla Shindell, (o) 937-229-3257, (c) 937-367-2889,  

Quote: "I am particularly struck by the thought that this is the first pope who was not present at Vatican II, following the previous five popes who had been there. Yet he was obviously influenced by the teaching of the Council that bishops should carry out their office in a spirit of service and humility. The things reported about him on the first day remind me of the following passage from Lumen Gentium #27:
'Bishops, as vicars and ambassadors of Christ, govern the particular churches entrusted to them by their counsel, exhortations, example, and even by their authority and sacred power, which indeed they use only for the edification of their flock in truth and holiness, remembering that he who is greater should become as the lesser, and he who is the chief become as the servant... A bishop, since he is sent by the Father to govern his family, must keep before his eyes the example of the Good Shepherd, who came not to be ministered unto but to minister, and to lay down his life for his sheep. Being taken from among men, and himself beset with weakness, he is able to have compassion on the ignorant and erring.'

Dennis Doyle is a religious studies professor at the University of Dayton. He is a Catholic theologian and author of The Church Emerging from Vatican II

Francis: Simplicity of life and care for the poor

Bill_PortierWilliam Portier, Mary Ann Spearin Chair of Catholic Theology
(o) 937-229-4435,
PR Contact: Cilla Shindell, (o) 937-229-3257, (c) 937-367-2889, 

Quote: "A Jesuit pope with a Franciscan name! An Italian-Argentianian! Seventy-six years old, associated with Communion and Liberation, as was Cardinal Scola. I like the name Francis and what it means in the history of the church — simplicity of life and care for the poor. What would St. Francis make of this? Pope Francis didn't smile much; he looked like he might be in a bit of shock. We'll have to see what he brings to the papacy."

William Portier is the author of books on U.S. Catholicism and theology and has contributed nearly one hundred articles and reviews in the areas of theology, U.S. Catholic history, and Catholic higher education. His article "Here Come the Evangelical Catholics" was chosen by the College Theology Society for the 2005 Award for Best Journal Article.

He will set a new tone and direction for the Church

angela_ann_zukowskiSister Angela Ann Zukowski, M.H.S.H., director, Institute for Pastoral Initiatives
(o) 937-229-3126,
PR Contact: Cilla Shindell, (o) 937-229-3257, (c) 937-367-2889, 

Quote: "As I sat waiting with friends for the announcement of the new pope, I was asked what I thought the name would be. I said: 'It will be Francis, and he will set a new tone and direction for the Church.' When he was announced, we couldn't believe it. He's a humble, simple and brilliant man. As a Jesuit, he understands religious communities. He lives and works with the poor and supports the poor. With his selection of 'Francis,' he's calling for awareness of social justice, humility and spirituality."

For more than 40 years, Sister Angela Ann Zukowski, M.H.S.H. has served the church at the Vatican and around the world as an advocate for global communication. She was a member of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (Vatican) 1994