For the nation’s oldest Catholic university, the arrival of a new pope is always a big deal.
But for Georgetown University, the election of Pope Francis on Wednesday marked a singular moment. The Jesuit institution of higher learning in Northwest Washington contemplated the first time a Jesuit prelate had risen to become the Bishop of Rome.
On campus some marveled at the occasion but also pondered what it would mean for Jesuits and for the Roman Catholic Church in America.
“I’m sure there’s great rejoicing among the Jesuits,” said Chester Gillis, a theologian who is dean of Georgetown College. “But I’m not sure even they know what it means to have a pope from their own community.”
Gillis noted that the Society of Jesus, founded in the 16th Century, is known for its devotion to intellectual pursuits, education and missionary work with the world’s poor.