Local News

Pope Francis 'one of us,' Chapel Hill woman says

Posted March 14, 2013
Updated March 15, 2013

— 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.

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"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.


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  • superman Mar 15, 2013

    His first priority should be to cleanse the church of his gay priests and the hundreds who helped cover up the scandals. His house is dirty.

  • BernsteinIII Mar 15, 2013

    "What we all know about him is that he's just one of us,"

    Really? I guess it was ok for him complacent while priests were kidnapped during the brutal Argentinian dictatorships. I'm sure we will find out more as time goes on.

  • Road-wearier Mar 15, 2013

    "What does his parents being Italian immigrants have to do with him understanding the struggles of the poor? "

    Because he lived it. If you haven't walked in those shoes and been truly, desperately poor you will never understand.

  • Road-wearier Mar 15, 2013

    "Yeah, and the new, progressive, liberal way is working SO well..."

    Pity it hasn't worked for the past 30 years in NC. We've only been voted a great place to live, work, raise a family, start a business over and over during that time of the new, progressive, liberal way. I guess you're right. We need to go back and emulate the old ways of Mississippi, Alabama and Kansas...because people are absolutely FLOCKING to live there, huh?

  • Geez Louise Mar 15, 2013

    "And they wonder why they are losing hundreds of thousands of followers in the US every year?"

    --Christ lost all of his followers too in the garden.

  • hollylama Mar 15, 2013

    Having read many of his stances on social injustice and poverty I think he will do very well.

  • Viewer Mar 15, 2013

    "WRAL...This is really getting to be old news and very boring. Give it a rest on these rddiculous articles. 321fish123"

    Disagree strongly with your comment. As the Pope is the spiritual leader to 1.2 billion believers world wide, he is really more important than the US President.

    We need to be aware of his viewpoints as well as the expectations of his supporters as they will become part of US politics soon enough.

  • 321oohaw Mar 15, 2013

    He was the original "Italian Stallion", Rocky Balboa stole the name

  • bluewind Mar 15, 2013

    Hope the Catholic church is ready for him - he's about to drag you guys about three decades backwards.

    Yeah, and the new, progressive, liberal way is working SO well...

  • TJPC Mar 15, 2013

    Sure - he is "one of us" - he has already confirmed the Church's stand against homosexuality in one of his first public addresses. Welcome to the Catholic Church in 2013 - the new boss is the same as the old one. And they wonder why they are losing hundreds of thousands of followers in the US every year?