By Kevin Wilson
Some in Portales were surprised to see Germany’s Joseph Ratzinger chosen as the new pope, some weren’t. But many in Portales believe that the new pontiff, now known as Pope Benedict XVI, was the right choice.
Upon being named, Ratzinger called himself “a simple, humble” worker. It was that statement that put Veronica Pena at ease.
“I was impressed because he considered himself to be a humble worker,” said Pena, who works as a secretary at Portales Junior High School. “He knew that he needed all of us to support him (through prayer).”
Pena said she was also impressed that Ratzinger didn’t believe he was worthy of the ascension to pontiff, but would receive the tools he’d need from God.
It was through God that Eastern New Mexico University freshman Mary Ann Sullivan believed that Ratzinger was chosen.
“Honestly, it’s not who I expected,” said Sullivan, who expected to see Francise Arinze of Nigeria. “But I’m sure that (the conclave) had God’s appointment for choosing the new pope. The people that choose the pope are guided by the spirit and I’m confident they’ve chosen the right man.”
Sullivan, a chemistry major, is hopeful that Ratzinger’s papacy will focus on pro-life issues more.
James D’Agostino, a Catholic and the administrator for Roosevelt General Hospital, felt Ratzinger was “very, very worthy” but was still surprised at the choice.
“When you look at the makeup of the conclave … the majority (of the members) were from Italy,” D’Agostino said. “You would think that as they looked at those that might have been worthy, since only two of the cardinals had voted before, I thought it might be an Italian.”
Pat Gonzales, a minister who preaches once a month at First Spanish Baptist Church of Portales, thought that Ratzinger “was the one who was pretty much in charge” in the days following the death of Pope John Paul II, and figured that he was the logical choice.
“I hope he’s as good of a pope as Pope John Paul II,” Gonzales said. “If he’s half as good of a Christian as Pope John Paul II, he’s got it made.”
Gonzales said that he currently works with a Baptist church, but was raised Catholic. One of his favorite things about the papacy of John Paul II was that there weren’t battles over denominations, and he viewed the pope as one working for the betterment of all Christians.
“If I’m half the Christian that (Pope John Paul II was), I’d be happy” Gonzales said. “He walked the talk.”