Pope Francis’ preference for taking the bus and cooking his own food — and the fact he’s the first chosen from outside Europe in more than a millennium — is being warmly received in the Quad-Cities.

Davenport Diocese Bishop Martin Amos was touched Wednesday when Francis, in his first public statement as pope, asked people gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray for him.

“It’s a humbling moment,” Amos said. “I don’t think I’ve seen anyone do that, not an elected pope giving his first blessing to the world.”

The 76-year-old archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Bergoglio took the name Francis as a nod to simplicity, Amos said.

“St. Francis (of Assisi) gave up everything to live a life of poverty,” Amos said. “For us in the United States, we have such a consumer mentality. To have a holy father go the other way, it’ll be interesting what he ends up doing with that.”

The Rev. Tom Gibson, pastor of the largely Hispanic congregation at St. Mary’s Church in Moline, said he was “thrilled” to have the new pope come from Latin America.

“This is the universal church,” Gibson said.

Choosing the name Francis sends the message that this pope wants to reach out to the Catholic faithful as well as non-believers and those who have fallen away, Gibson said.

“Francisco is a symbol of peace throughout the world,” he said of the 13th century saint. “He’s a man of every sort of people, lepers and the well-off. He was universally loved by people.”

St. Francis often is depicted in paintings and statues in a nature setting and with animals. “He sought to find God’s presence in creation,” Gibson said.

The Rev. Chuck Adam, director of campus ministry at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, considers the new pope a “very humble man.”

“He takes the bus rather than being chauffeured and he cooks for himself,” Adam said of Bergoglio’s reputation in Argentina. “He takes the gospel message of Jesus — serve rather than be served — very seriously.”

Will the new pope use Twitter, as Pope Benedict XVI had begun to do months before he resigned?

Gibson said that while it appears social media doesn’t coincide with Pope Francis’ preference for simplicity, he expects the Vatican will continue tweeting.

“He seeks a return to the simple, Catholic values of generosity, love of people and service,” Gibson said. “Those are easy to forget in a world of Facebook, Twitter and email, which tend to depersonalize.”

Gibson said his parish of 1,500 families — 75 percent of them Hispanic — likely will have some kind of celebration for the new pope this spring.

As the Spanish-speaking Catholic population continues to be among the largest and fastest growing in the world, Gibson said the need for Hispanic priests is even greater.

His parish is in the Peoria Diocese, which has only seven Spanish-speaking priests, including one Hispanic priest, he said.

Bishop Daniel Jenky of the Peoria Diocese, said: “The whole church has been praying that the Holy Spirit would guide the cardinals. For somebody like me, it’s a moment when God has spoken through those cardinals.”

Amos said he received numerous emails and text messages Wednesday from Catholics in the diocese after the pope was announced and described the general mood of the messages as “excited.”

“They’ve done a good job electing him,” Amos said. “He’s got a lot of the qualities people are looking for.”

Amos is planning to lead a pilgrimage to the Vatican in September, where he hopes to meet the new pope.

“I’ll tell him that the Diocese of Davenport keeps him in our prayers,” he said.

(4) comments


30,000 of his parishioners vanished during the "dirty war" of murders and abductions carried out by the junta that ruled Argentina.

He kept quiet.

He'll fit right in at the Vatican.


He has a multitude of issues to confront. With all due respect to Senor Citizen, no church is or should be worrying about what an atheist thinks. Christianity is about faith, and it can't serve or help those without it. His big problem is that US Catholics won't vote for their beliefs. A majority voted for the baby killing democrat Obama. I had an argument with a supposedly faithful Catholic who said he supports the right of a woman to choose. I couldn't make him understand the difference between that and this regime forcing the church to fund abortion and birth control. An individual can make that choice, but it is a totally different thing for the government to force the church to fund something that is against its most basic tenet. And this is coming from the regime that is forcing all of us to cow-tow that goofy bunch on a daily basis.

senor citizen

I hope that Pope Francis I brings a new respect for the Church for all people, including we who are athiests. However I will continue in the knowledge that the words of Seneca were are true to this day. "The poor find it true (religion), the rich find it false, and the powerful find it useful." I understand that the Catholic view of sex is not to enjoy, but rather another reason to repent, but I don't subscribe to Catholic sex practices, and neither do most Catholics. The large families the Church encourages, in fact demands increase the flock numbers but accounts for much of Latin America's poverty thorugh less resources per person and less chance for better nutrition, and even the pure water supply. The Church says it elevates human life but in fact it cheapens and degrades it.


This pope is aganst IVF, artifcal contaception,and gays having kids. Sound like my type of guy. I encourage all christans to join the catholic church and repent.

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