Elmhurst Latinos Celebrate New Latin American Pope
Updated: 03/14/2013 12:20 PM
By: Roger Clark
Many New Yorkers from Argentina and other parts of Latin America are honored that the new Catholic pontiff, Pope Francis, is a Spanish speaker and the first one to come from their region.
Roughly 39 percent of the world's Catholics come from Latin America, and 77 percent of the population in Argentina, Pope Francis' homeland, is Catholic.
The East Elmhurst section of Queens is home to many Argentine immigrants and Latin Americans. There, the family of Chris Jimenez has run the Rio de la Plata Bakery at 94-65 Corona Avenue for many years, and they decided to decorate their Argentine bakery when they learned that the new pope is from their native country.
"We were surprised he was Spanish and when they told us he was Argentinean, we were very proud," Jimenez said.
However, Jimenez may have been more excited to think of Pope Francis as the new leader for the world's Catholics.
"Well maybe he could do a nice clean-up, you know, about all the things that are going on with the Catholic Church and all of that, but we'll see," Jimenez said. We'll see what he does."
A customer at Rio de la Plata, Caesar Budiuck, also has roots in Argentina, and said it was about time there is a pontiff from Latin America. He remembered how Pope Francis was willing as a cardinal to travel into Argentina's slums, or villas.
"Half my life I spent in Argentina and the villas are very dangerous," Budiuck said. "So for him to be humble enough to go help people there, I think is just great."
He hoped Pope Francis will breathe new life into the church.
"The last pope, I really didn't know much about him. I really liked John Paul II, I thought he was great, and hopefully he does the same thing, travel and try to bring the world back together, I think that's important," Budiuck said.
Probably the most excited person who spoke with NY1 was Jacqueline Aguilar, an Elmhurst resident from Buenos Aires, where Pope Francis served as archbishop.
"I was like amazed. I was like, 'Oh my god, no, I can't believe it!'" Aguilar said. "And personally I wasn't keeping track of the candidates, like the Cardinals, but when they announced him I was like ahh, it was amazing for me."
Aguilar hoped the pope will continue to try and help the poor.
Another person who spoke with NY1 said the people should reach out more to young people, to get the world's next generation of Catholics involved with the church.
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