Catholic League To Newsmax: New Pope a “Traditionalist’’ With Liberal Touch

Image: Catholic League To Newsmax: New Pope a “Traditionalist’’ With Liberal Touch (Getty Images)

Wednesday, 13 Mar 2013 05:12 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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Pope Francis will rule the Roman Catholic Church by tradition, but be slightly more liberal than previous pontiffs, says Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

“Of course, he’s going to be a traditionalist,’’ Donohue told Newsmax TV’s “The Steve Malzberg Show.’’

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“Will he make changes? I hope so because even those who are conservative like myself say the church has changed, it can change, and it will change on a number of things … [I expect] a slight shift in a more liberal direction.’’

Donohue said the selection of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a Latin American cleric, is a positive move for the church.

“There’s no question about it that the Catholic community is concerned about the loss of Catholics to other religions, particularly evangelicals, in Latin America,’’ he said.

“Now we’ve gotten away from the Eurocentric pope, haven’t we? We’ve had a Pole and we we’ve had a German, who broke the Italian tradition, now we have an Argentinian who’s breaking the Eurocentric position.’’

Donohue said the Vatican’s new pontiff is a bit older than he expected and had not been mentioned among the top handful of candidates.

“[This] indicates to me perhaps a lot of the frontrunners probably could not get the 77 votes that are needed, in which case now you look for a man that could kind of fit everybody’s shoes,’’ he said.

Watch Steve Malzberg 3-6 PM ET at or listen on SiriusXM Satellite Radio America’s Talk 166.

“I’m happy for the Latinos in particular because like I said they’re the ones who surged in St. Peter’s Square. They, more than any other particular segment of the Catholic population, have been rooting for him in Rome.

“There’s a lot of pride there and to break away from Europe is a fresh breath of air. I don’t know enough about him in terms of his ability to govern, because that’s one of the serious questions asked, that somebody has to take on the Curia, which is the Vatican bureaucracy.’’

Donohue said the new pope’s choice of the name Francis is an inspiring one.

“St. Francis is obviously a hero. He gave up everything in order to become a priest, so this is a striking moment,’’ Donohue said.

Pope Francis’ first order of business, Donohue believes, will be to project
“a certain degree of humbleness and humility’’ to the world.

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