New York Catholics Notice a Different Leader in Pope Francis

New York Catholics Notice a Different Leader in Pope Francis

Madison Square Garden was the final stop on Pope Francis’ New York City itinerary last week. The Pope, along with the 19,000 in attendance, celebrated Mass in the historic arena on Friday evening. By 4 p.m., two hours before the start of mass, the sidewalks were packed with people standing behind barricades, waiting to catch a glimpse of the Pope’s arrival.

IMG_0285His reception may have been normal for a celebrity, but his perception among many of the spectators on 7th Avenue suggested this Pope is anything but common. While his celebrity was the draw for some, for others, especially Catholics, he symbolizes a change in the Catholic Church.

Serena Pantano, 21, of Gramercy Park and a practicing Catholic, likes the Pope’s views. “With past popes, I followed their preaching, but I was against some of the things they believed in,” she said. “Since he’s so progressive, even people who don’t practice Catholicism are following his ways. I think it’s a big step for the Catholic Church.”

Matthew Houselander, 40, from Staten Island, was working security at the corner of 7th avenue and 37th street. Houselander, a Catholic, suggests the Pope’s open-mindedness has lead to a different perception. “I think his liberal attitude towards a lot of ideals that were considered somewhat dogmatic and antiquated by the Catholic Church, he’s changing what people should be believing in. To me he’s a lot more understanding,” he said.

Manhattanite Devin Brown, 27, who works nearby, admires Pope Francis’ efforts to use his influence towards change on a global scale. Brown, a Catholic, praised the Pope’s desire to reach all people groups, “He’s going to have a major role, especially now that he’s traveling the world and visiting different countries. He’s trying to bring everyone together,” he said.

Long Island native Ryan Malone, intended to meet up with his girlfriend at Madision Square Garden before the two headed to the Yankees game, but found himself caught up in the crowd. Malone, 26, is also a Catholic and believes some of Pope Francis’ progressive opinions are overdue. “He’s trying to change Catholicism for the better, incorporating more 21st century ideas, such as stances on gay marriage and global warming,” he said. “There hasn’t been a pope like this in a long time.”

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Zac Howard
Zac Howard 5 posts

Zac Howard is a FSU alum and NYU grad student. He loves classic lit, the Miami Dolphins, and Kristen Stewart. For more of his writing, visit his website

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