Wednesday March 13, 2013

The Road Ahead

Theologians and faculty experts react to the election of Pope Francis and the University celebrates.

With the announcement of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as Pope Francis, the Catholic Church enters a new chapter of history.

The University of Dayton community will celebrate the announcement of a new pope for the Catholic Church, with a Mass in the Immaculate Conception Chapel at 12:05 p.m. Thursday, March 14. Campus Ministry will be serving cake and handing out prayer cards on the ground and first levels of Kennedy Union from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The University's internationally renowned theologians and faculty experts on the pope, the papacy, the Vatican and the Catholic Church are available to comment on this critical moment for the church. Read reaction from our faculty experts at Habemus Papam: Francis.

Here are quotes from just a few of the University's experts: the former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, an expert in the Catholic Church in Latin America and a theologian with a perspective on young Catholics. 

"I couldn't help think as I watched, that I was the first Latino American U.S. ambassador to the Holy See watching the first Latin American pope. This is significant, as almost half of the church worldwide is Latin American and almost half of the church in the U.S. is Latino. There's a saying in Spanish that, 'Who we walk with in life matters.' This man has walked with the poor, lived among immigrants, and he has a personal story of migration. This will undoubtedly shape the way he serves." — Miguel Díaz, University Professor of Faith and Culture and U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See (retired); 
PR Contact: Teri Rizvi, (o) 937-229-3255,
; PR Contact: Shawn Robinson, (o) 937-229-3391, (c) 937-232-2907,

"When Bergoglio became cardinal archbishop, he took over a church with severely wounded credibility. He faced the worst of scandals — the Argentinian Dirty War. Many in the Argentinian church were involved in the scandal, engaged in torture and murder. As archbishop, he faced a monumental task, and he was even accused of collaboration with the Dirty War, which he strenuously denied and was ultimately cleared. If he can restore the credibility of the church there, he can handle the scandals that have befallen the church worldwide because he knows how to connect to the people." — Ramon Luzarraga, lecturer, religious studies; Theologian-in-Residence, Institute for Pastoral Initiatives, (o) 937-229-4487,; PR Contact: Shawn Robinson, (o) 937-229-3391, (c) 937-232-2907,

"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. …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, associate professor, religious studies, (o) 937-229-4196,; PR Contact: Cilla Shindell, (o) 937-229-3257, (c) 937-367-2889,

For regular updates from our faculty, follow us on Twitter @udaytonnews and visit our pope experts website at The Catholic Church's Next Chapter. 

The University of Dayton, founded by the Society of Mary, is among the nation's top Catholic universities and the largest private university in Ohio. Following in the footsteps of its Marianist founder, Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, it educates students for transformation in faith, adaptation to the times and servant leadership.

For more information, contact Meagan Pant, assistant director of news and communications, at 937-229-3256 or