Austin Catholics hopeful about Pope Francis
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With only a couple of weeks left until Easter, local Catholics are breathing a sigh of relief now that they have a chosen leader.
"It's all something new for all of us," Bishop Joe Vazquez with the Catholic Diocese of Austin said.
Vasquez led the midday mass at Austin’s St. Mary Cathedral Church on Thursday, thanking God for choosing Pope Francis to lead the church.
"We see him as a great gift to us in the church,” Vasquez said. “This pope is the one that God has chosen for us in this particular time in history."
Vasquez says the public should not expect radical change from Pope Francis.
"He's from the Americas. He's also a Jesuit, and that should not make us uncomfortable at all. We should be eased about that," he said.
Joe Geisler is a lifelong Catholic and hopes Pope Francis will stick to tradition. Geisler would also like to see Pope Francis lead the church longer than his predecessor. He says it would help Catholics like him better connect with the Pope.
"I had more of a connection to Blessed Pope John Paul II, for instance,” Geisler said. “It's a matter of time before we will develop a real connection to our new pope."
He’s a new pope whose conservative approach to homosexuality, abortion and contraception has troubled more progressive Catholics.
But Bishop Vasquez believes parishioners will learn the new pontiff's thoughts, ideas and perspective as Easter approaches.
"That's one whole week where we are going to listen to the Holy Father. We are going to find out a great deal in Holy Week, I think," Vasquez said.
Pope Francis held his first mass as pontiff at the Sistine Chapel Thursday. He also plans to visit Pope Benedict XVI in the coming days.