APPLETON - A Lawrence University professor has special ties to the new pope.
Gustavo Fares teaches Spanish and Latin American Studies at the school.
Fares says he met the pope on several occasions in the 1970s.
Even when he was a priest, a young Jorge Bergoglio, already had a specific focus for his ministry. And Lawrence University professor Gustavo Fares expects it will continue in his new role as pope.
"I know he has a special preoccupation for the poor and for social justice and I think that is a welcome message at this time," said Fares.
Fares met Bergoglio on several occasions in the 1970s. Fares says his cousin studied under the eventual pope at a seminary.
"I had seen him in that capacity two or three times, have dinner with the priests and he would be there and play soccer with them and he would be around."
Fares says he was secretly pulling for Bergoglio's election.
"Oh of course, imagine!"
But Fares admits it was a bit of a surprise.
"He won't even have time to go back to Argentina and pack and bring his clothes."
The election of Pope Francis is also big news for Hispanic Catholics in the Fox Valley who say they have high hopes for what he can accomplish.
"What I think the play is, is a new pope, in the new world, new hope," said Ernesto Gonzalez of Appleton.
"We think Pope Francis will keep things as they are right now with the church without too many changes and that probably will be of great acceptance to most Catholics," said Carlos Sevilla of Neenah.
And while Fares says it will take time for Pope Francis to settle into his new role, he says he expects great things from the new pope.
"He knows how to deal with politicians as well as church powers, so I think in that regard he is a man who is comfortable with his new job."
Fares says his cousin and family in Argentina have become very popular in the last 24 hours.
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