WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Catholics around the world are celebrating the selection of a new leader for the church, Pope Francis.
Locally, one of America's most respected writers on religion and spirituality, Paul Wilkes, is applauding the decision.
Wilkes, who has written extensively on Catholicism and his journey as a Catholic, believes the choice of Pope Francis marks a break from the past, because he's a Jesuit and an Argentinian.
Wilkes said Pope Francis is different from the past two men who held the job. He described Pope John Paul II as a "showman" and said Pope Benedict was a "theologian and an introvert". Because Pope Francis is a Jesuit, Wilkes describes him as a "thinker" - which he believes will lead to more discussion on controversial issues facing church leaders, like allowing women to serve as priests.
Wilkes said Francis is a humble man, who is known for taking public transportation to work.
He managed to charm Catholics with his first words as pontiff.
"The way that Pope Francis bowed his head and said, 'You pray for me before I pray for you,' I think that's a very good sign in our church," Wilkes said. Here's a simple gesture saying this is a very tough job, I need your help."
When asked if this selection will help the church heal from the child sex abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic religion in recent years, Wilkes said, "I think this has a great deal to do with leading the church in a new direction. I don't think we can get rid of the sins of the past. I think what it's saying is we aren't going to do things the same old way."
Wilkes has written In Mysterious Ways: The Death and Life of a Parish Priest, The Seven Secrets of Successful Catholics and In Due Season.
He is also the executive director and founder of Homes of Hope India, a non-profit organization that helps orphaned girls in India.
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