Chapel Hill, N.C. — While many Catholics worldwide are still trying learning about Pope Francis, one Chapel Hill woman has followed him for years.
The announcement Wednesday that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, had been chosen as the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church filled Maria Lapetina with pride.
"They started to talk in Latin. Of course, I don’t understand it," the native Argentinian said Thursday. "But I understood his name. When they said 'Bergoglio,' I was so emotional. I couldn’t believe it I was so happy."
In the past day, emails have poured in, and Facebook posts have filled her page.
"I think that now everyone will know where Argentina is, to begin with," she said with a laugh.
Lapetina said she reads Argentine newspapers online every day, and she reflected on the many headlines she has read over the years about Pope Francis.
"He was able to confront the president on many occasions," she said. "He’s very conservative and he’s very controversial, and I personally don’t agree with everything he does."
What means the most to her is that Francis is the son of Italian immigrants, which helps him understand the struggles of the poor.
"What we all know about him is that he's just one of us," Lapetina said, noting that he rode a bus to work and lived in a small apartment in Buenos Aires.
"He's very humble," she said.