POSTED: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - 5:00am
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - 5:04am
Baton Rouge, LA (NBC33) — One year ago Tuesday, Pope Benedict took the historic step of resigning from his position, a decision that has had a strong impact on young, local Catholics.
"A lot of kids who really weren't into their faith at all we're loving the new Pope because he was really moving," Reid Frances said.
It had been nearly 600 years since a sitting Pope chose to step down.
"It surprised me a little bit," Frances said, "because it hadn't happened in forever."
"I think you could kind of see he was getting older," Patrick Lawler added, "and it just, at some point, it's good to bring in a breath of fresh air."
Pope Francis was selected to replace Pope Benedict about a month later. While Benedict focused on the academic side of Catholicism, Francis looks for the more practical aspects.
"(He) emphasized the parts of the gospel that are not judging," Lawler, a senior at LSU, noted, "and that are, emphasize the loving aspects, I thought."
Pope Francis has been outspoken about social issues, including saying that he would not judge gay people and calling for a reduction in economic inequality. He has earned respect from people who felt marginalized, without upsetting the Church's religious base.
"He's really shown how living out the gospel and the Catholic Church can be a loving institution," Lawler said.
"I mean, if you really listen to what he actually is saying, it's all with Church teaching," Frances, an LSU freshman, pointed out. "He's very knowledgeable and he knows what he's talking about."
Pope Francis has made humility and service the hallmarks of his papacy. And that's bringing a lot of young people into the Church.
"I think it's resonating with people," Lawler mentioned, "because I think there's a whole group of people, of all ages, but especially younger kids that want to develop their faith, and I think a big part of that is saying that you can use your faith to affect and make the world a better place."
"You know, some people can't vote because they're underage; they're going to be the leaders of our world some day," Frances added. "And they need to be informed, they need to be trained to know what they're doing, and I think Pope Francis is going to be a big part of that."