At Missoula's St. Francis Xavier, celebration for new pope

2013-03-14T06:15:00Z 2014-05-30T21:48:18Z At Missoula's St. Francis Xavier, celebration for new pope

Less than 30 minutes after Pope Francis appeared on the Vatican balcony and led a crowd of tens of thousands in the Lord’s Prayer, the bells rang over St. Francis Xavier Church in Missoula.

Ten minutes later, the cork was popped on a bottle of Korbel California Champagne at the St. Francis Xavier Parish next door. Glasses all around, followed by a toast.

“Cheers to the new pope,” they hailed.

It was the first time in eight years Catholics could toast a new leader. Pope Benedict XVI resigned the post this month, opening the doors to a new appointment.

While the ever-popular Pope John Paul II was elected on the eighth ballot in 1978, Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina was elected after five ballots, becoming the first pope from the Americas – something Father Rich Perry called a cosmic shift in thinking at the Vatican.

“It’s a pope from Latin America, which is huge in terms of a whole theological perspective,” Perry said. “No one has ever taken the name Francis before, and it says something about his connection to St. Francis of Assisi, who stood for simplicity, working with the poor and rebuilding the church.”

At a downtown Missoula gym over the noon hour, televisions on the exercise cycles were tuned to CNN, which projected images of white smoke wafting from the Sistine Chapel – a sign that the College of Cardinals had reached a decision.

At St. Francis Parish, the joy was clear. One woman heard the news on the radio. Another had set her cellphone with a “pope alarm,” which activated at 12:11 p.m.

“We’re excited,” said Pam Brigham, the social justice coordinator at St. Francis. “He’s a Jesuit, and he’s from the developing world, which is great.”

Their celebration didn’t come without hope. Francis faces a tough task in what some Catholics see as a need to bring the church back to order after years of sexual abuse scandals and outdated mandates.

Those at the parish Wednesday also wanted to see Francis move toward social justice and take a new tone in helping the poor.

“I think a pope from Latin America will be aware of those issues,” said Ann Moriarity. “Being a Jesuit, I think he’ll be aware of those issues.”


The wish list also includes an international desire to see women enter the priesthood. Last year, Benedict restated the church’s ban on women priests.

Benedict also said he wouldn’t tolerate disobedience by clerics on fundamental teachings. Under his leadership, the church cracked down on advocates of female ordination, leading protesters in Rome to send up pink smoke on a hill above the Vatican as the College of Cardinals gathered to elect a new leader.

“First of all, there were many women around Jesus,” said Carol Emmons, at the St. Francis Parish. “When the church started, the women were just as active as the men. Somewhere along the way, the men got all the power. There’s no reason women can’t be priests.”

There are moments in time when people remember where they were when they heard the news. The shooting of Ronald Reagan may be one. The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster may another. The terrorist attacks in 2001 another still.

“I was driving over here and I heard it on the radio,” said Emmons. “I couldn’t believe it almost. It seemed so fast. When I went in to get my haircut, they didn’t have a pope. When I came out, they did.”

As for that pope alarm, that’s where Moriarity got the news.

“I got it at 12:11 – a text and an email saying there was a new pope,” she said. “But they didn’t say who it was. My son called and told me who it was.”

Reporter Martin Kidston can be reached at 523-5260, or at

Copyright 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(19) Comments

  1. Roger
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    Roger - March 15, 2013 7:26 am
    Pres. Obama is referred to as "Obama" quite often, especially in headlines.
  2. DRock52
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    DRock52 - March 14, 2013 8:56 pm
    I pray for all of you who attack an institution that is the single largest charity organization in the world. How many of you who sit on computers attacking the Catholic Church help out your own neighbors on a daily basis?
    Its sad that the Church has so many people in it that do not understand just how amazing the Church is. As far the role of women in the Church, no other Church holds up women like the Catholic Church. We honor Mary above all other human beings. I can't list to you how many female Saints there are. Jesus Christ chose 12 Apostles, men who started the Church and who our priests today are in the line of.
    People need to know what they are actually talking about before they go opening their mouths... on these comments and out our local churches.
  3. goodneighbor
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    goodneighbor - March 14, 2013 2:40 pm
    maybe pedophile in charge?
  4. goodneighbor
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    goodneighbor - March 14, 2013 2:38 pm
    I think she meant that pedophiles are drawn to become priests due to the easy access to children? but you're right, having a wife doesn't stop em
  5. goodneighbor
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    goodneighbor - March 14, 2013 2:36 pm
    maybe this is why the cases we know about are 40 years old---In the 1950s, Gerald Fitzgerald, the founder of a religious order that treats Roman Catholic priests who molest children, concluded "(such) offenders were unlikely to change and should not be returned to ministry," and this was discussed with Pope Paul VI (– 1978) and "in correspondence with several bishops."[6] In 2001, sex abuse cases were first required to be reported to Rome with the publication of Pope John Paul II's Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela[7] – previously, an individual Ordinary was permitted to handle the accusations.[8] This change placed all such cases under the auspices of Cardinal Ratzinger, who served as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1981 until he was named Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.[9] The Dallas Morning News did a year-long investigation, after the 2002 revelation that cases of abuse were widespread in the Church.[1] The results made public in 2004 showed that even after the public outcry, priests were moved out of the countries where they had been accused and were still in "settings that bring them into contact with children, despite church claims to the contrary."[1] Among the investigation's findings is that nearly half of 200 cases "involved clergy who tried to elude law enforcement."[1] In July 2010, the Vatican doubled the length of time after the 18th birthday of the victim that clergymen can be tried in a church court and streamlined the processes for removing "pedophile priests."[10][11][12]

  6. DMcG
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    DMcG - March 14, 2013 2:19 pm
    In Matthew 19:4-5 you will find reference to marriage and it states that marriage is between a male and a female:

    “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined
    to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’"
  7. Pistol
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    Pistol - March 14, 2013 1:55 pm
    Donald M Religion is based on scripture, and tradition. You are correct a church can evolve with age. For example like mass in other than Latin. Women's place in the church. Etc. But acceptence of gay marriage, abortion is on the scripture side. The church teaching is you must love the "sinner" but not the sin. This is no different than someone committing adultery. Also traditionally poor countries have more active christians than richer societies. The bible quotes Jesus as stating it is more difficult for a rich man to reach heaven then a poor man. I'm a conservative Catholic but I would have no problem with married priests or women priests. I would have a problem with the church changing it's doctrine againist scriptural dogma.
  8. Pistol
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    Pistol - March 14, 2013 1:45 pm
    madtaxpayer "another possible pedifile"? Using that as logic every new born male baby, for that matter female baby is a potential pedifile. Having wives would stop pediflies? Really? We have had a number of sexual assaults in Missoula area lately, and most were by adults with opposite sex partners. None has been a Catholic Priest.
  9. DMcG
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    DMcG - March 14, 2013 1:12 pm
    madtaxpayer Why is it when someone doesn't know what they are talking about they bring up old history. Yes, the Catholic Church had a few Priests who were pedophiles and a few misguided people who didn’t do the right thing, but there are over 1.2 billion Catholics in the World and around 65 Million in the US. In every group there is bound to be a few bad apples (I could mentioned numerous other religious groups and public entities that have suffered from similar crimes and attempted to cover them up). You may notice (but I doubt you would) that the majority if not all of the cases took place over 40 years ago. After all this publicity of old cases, the Catholic Church is actually one of the safest places for young men and women due to the changes that have been put in place.
  10. madtaxpayer
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    madtaxpayer - March 14, 2013 12:21 pm
    oh by all means be excited about another possible pedifile. Amazing how this world can celebrate such a corrupt religion. How many more boys have to be molested for this world to realize these men need wives!!! God ain't cuttin' it for them!!!

  11. DonaldM
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    DonaldM - March 14, 2013 11:01 am
    I have to support Ms Emmons' remarks. The early church had female Priests and possibly even female Bishops. There is no Doctrinal reason to oppose female Priests. Mary Magdalene was much more than a groupie. Some believe that she was the 1st among the Apostles. She got demoted later by a celibate, male Hierarchy.

    The 2nd Vatican Council declared that that the Church is all of the people of God; not just the Magisterium(ordained leadership). She has her opinion, the parish Priest has his. One doesn't void the other's unless is relates to Doctrine, and a female Priesthood is unrelated to Doctrine.

    The Catholic Church has three areas of Authority: Doctrine(see the Nicene Creed); moral teaching; and Discipline. Even Papal Encyclicals aren't Doctrine, but fall in the category of Moral teaching.

    Moral teaching is what most people think is doctrine, but is not. The teachings on sexual behavior, birth control, "social justice", and other behaviors are in that category, and are not "Doctrine" and are thus subject to change as more about such issues is understood, and are subject to each persons individual conscience.

    The sexual teachings are not found in any Creed. Most were invented by the "Natural Law" movement of the Middle ages/late dark ages when Aquinas and Scholasticism developed a systematic theology. (purportedly) Celibate Priests invented the teachings against contraception, no divorce and remarriage; no sex-in thought, word or deed, outside the boundaries of a sanctified marriage, etc. These are all deficient teachings and need serious revisiting, and are much of why so many Catholics are no longer active in the Church; and all so unnecessary.

    Discipline(custom) is not doctrine. Such issues as Mass on Sundays, or Saturday night, or Holy days. Priests vestments, Priest facing the people or away; Mass in Latin or the vernacular, priestly celibacy(the Eastern Rite of the Roman Catholic Church allows married priests), Mass facing the people, or not; female priests(I know some will disagree here but there is no mention in any Doctrinal Creed that addresses this issue); and most other things that Catholics encounter in their interactions with authorities in the Church are found either under the heading of "moral teaching" or "Discipline", neither of which is binding in conscience and is subject to change.

    This new Pope has a hellish job ahead of him; probably more than one man can handle, but I wish him well.
  12. AARGH
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    AARGH - March 14, 2013 9:12 am
    Good point Denise!
  13. AARGH
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    AARGH - March 14, 2013 9:11 am
    Re-Ject in Montana. Who are you to judge? Sure you have the right to say what you want. However if you're just going to be a DB, then keep your opinions to yourself. I don't agree with a lot of things you do in your gay community, but I'm not going to belittle your organization.
  14. Drummer
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    Drummer - March 14, 2013 8:51 am
    I don't believe Pope Francis would approve of what the Jesuits in this country have evolved. And, these women at St. Francis in Missoula have been a part of those progressives, along with Perry who have driven traditional Catholics out of their Church. The Pope in Rome will not impact the locals, as the locals will do what they want to do anyway, operate in the separate way that they have in the past. Their celebration is "shallow," but they will capitalize on this event. People who have left St. Francis had their Faith intact beforehand, and I wonder how many souls were lost because of the regime that has been in charge at St. Francis.
  15. montanamuralist
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    montanamuralist - March 14, 2013 8:15 am
    Just a word of congratulations from a non Catholic on your new leader. I will say I am disappointed that there is not more room for change in the Catholic Church as many of us who could be potential members of that community find the resistance to basic truths in our society to be a roadblock to being able to share and feel comfortable in that spiritual community. I love the candles and the statues. I dislike that women are still seen as secondary citizens in the church. I dislike the idea that birth control is something to be avoided despite the economic truths in which most of us live and that having 8 children is not an honor but a burden unfortunately, not because we would not want children, but it is impractical in this society from an economic point of view. So I have no great hope that Pope Francis will change any of that or update the Church in a way that is meaningful for most non Catholics and make us feel the nudge to join that community. Rather I hope he will be a transition that leads to that change over time.
  16. Re-Made in Montana
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    Re-Made in Montana - March 13, 2013 10:11 pm
    Just call him what he is.. head conspirator.
  17. Montana82
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    Montana82 - March 13, 2013 7:47 pm
    Looks like there's some dissent in the office at St. Francis Parish regarding Church teaching. I think the Missoulian should have clarified Ms. Emmons' comments with what Father RIch Perry believes. I think it's a newsworthy event if a Missoula Catholic Parish is going on the record saying women should be priests.
  18. Pistol
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    Pistol - March 13, 2013 6:45 pm
    Sounds like a few ladies at St Francis Parish have an agenda! From what I have read about the new Pope he is not a progressive. Just because the Jesuits, some not all, are deemed more progressive then other priests doesn't mean he is. Plus let's face it Europe, and the US have more progressives than other areas of the world. Also in the US approximately 7% of the world's Catholics live in the US, let's say half are progressives. Hardly enough to sway church doctrine. He seems like a Pope that is going to reach out to the poor, and developing countries. More than change mandated church teachings.
  19. Denise Moore
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    Denise Moore - March 13, 2013 6:14 pm
    Ummm... It's "Pope Francis". Or, "The Pope". Not the familiar "Francis". Just as you would refer to President Obama, not Obama. Please.
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