by MICHAEL OTTO
AUCKLAND — “Joy, excitement and pride” — that’s how Walter Alvarez described his reaction to the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina as Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church.
Mr Alvarez, who comes from Argentina and works as Information and Communications Technology manager at St Peter’s College in Epsom, told NZ Catholic that people from throughout Latin America would take great pride in Pope Francis’s election. It recognises the huge contribution Latin America has made to the Catholic Church, a contribution that has not always been widely recognised, Mr Alvarez said.
Mr Alvarez has lived in New Zealand for 12 years, and recalls Cardinal Bergoglio saying the future of the Church is in the global south.
“In the last maybe 10 years, he was very committed to support poor people in Argentina, to help them somehow to [get] them through the tough economic times. In doing that, he was not completely opposed, but he had his arguments with the last two governments. And so he was quite notorious, he was quite tough fighting them.”
Mr Alvarez thought that taking the name Francis is very apt. “He is very well known for being a humble, discreet, low-profile person.”
Andrea Alvarez, Mr Alvarez’s wife, who also works at St Peter’s managing the school stationary and uniform shop, said Pope Francis’s election will be well received by many women in Argentina. “I think he will be very popular,” she said.
Mr Alvarez agreed, saying Cardinal Bergoglio’s focus on families during recent debates over same-sex adoption and abortion would have been well received by many women, who are the “real heads of families”.
Mr Alvarez hopes Pope Francis will be a focus of unity for the Church. Bringing young people back to the Church as Pope John Paul II did is another of Mr Alvarez’s hopes for Pope Francis.