The Urban Legend

The School Newspaper of Urban School of San Francisco

The Urban Legend

The School Newspaper of Urban School of San Francisco

The Urban Legend

Pope who? Ascension of Francis I sparks little excitement among Urban students

The Legend newsroom is abuzz with excitement — white smoke is rising from the Sistine Chapel, and that means a new pope has been chosen.

“I’ll go out on a limb and predict we’ll get an old European man as Pope,” I say, jokingly.

Old? Yes. Man? Obviously. But European? Definitely not.

The Vatican broke a 1,200-year streak by electing Argentinian Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, to the papacy.

But the rest of the school did not echo the anticipation found in our newsroom.

In a Legend survey answered by 67 students, teachers, and administrators, based on written responses, 71.7 percent did not care about Francis’ election and only 16.7 percent “care(d)” about his election (11.7 percent expressed ambivalence).

Most felt that the new pope did not impact their daily lives. Responders appeared to feel apathetic over Francis’ election. One responder wrote that Francis’ ascension had no impact  “because it does not directly affect me or the people in my close community.”

Urban student and Episcopalian Louise Newlin (’13) felt differently. “I do care about the election of Pope Francis, because I think it is an important world event and also because it affects the religious world in a big way.”

However, a distinct minority of Urban students responding to the survey said that they “(consider) the Pope (my) spiritual leader.” Only 4 responded “yes,” and 56 responded “no.” Six said they were “unsure.”

Niki King Fredel (’16), who identifies as a Protestant, was intrigued by the idea of a South American pope. “I believe that this will help to expand the world view of the Catholic Church,” she said.

Hannah Murphy (’15) agrees. “I am impressed that the Church has chosen the first South American Pope as well as the first Jesuit Pope.” Murphy also complimented on “his devotion to helping others” and “his modesty.” Francis famously gave up his archbishop’s residence to charity and lives in a small apartment.

Others were not as positive. “I’ve given up all hope that the Vatican will foster any positive change in the world,” wrote one survey respondent “It’s fine as long as it stays out of everyone’s way and doesn’t rape children,” wrote another.

King Fredel, who said that she is “against (Pope Francis’) opposition of contraception and homosexuality,” put the new pope’s opinions in context. “This is not just his personal (view), but also the views of the Catholic church,” she said.

However, as Pope, Francis’ views and the Church’s are now very much linked, and in the eyes of the typical survey respondent, both are outdated.

For example, in a 2010 letter to Buenos Aires monasteries about proposed gay rights legislation, then Archbishop Bergoglio wrote:  “Let’s not be naive: this isn’t a simple political fight, it’s an attempt to destroy God’s plan.” Such comments are likely to fuel opposition to Francis’ papacy especially in ultra-liberal environments such as Urban.

Despite the wide spectrum of opinions, survey data and interviews point towards an overwhelming consensus to the question, “Did you care about Pope Francis’ election?”

“Nope” seems to be the answer, evidence that the Vatican is as far from students’ minds as it is physically from The Urban School.

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About the Contributor
Eli Dinkelspiel, Semester 1 Editor-in-chief: Online and Multimedia

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Pope who? Ascension of Francis I sparks little excitement among Urban students