MSU community reacts to Pope Francis
By Kelsey Block
EAST LANSING – Since his election in March, Pope Francis has made several controversial remarks surrounding the “narcissism” of the Vatican and gay rights. His views have spread around the world and people right here on Michigan State University’s campus are taking notice.
Leila Wyatt, a MSU sophomore who describes herself as nonreligious, said she feels Pope Francis is bringing the religion to people who may have an initial offset.
“I feel like he makes it less weird,” she said.
Rev. Anthony Strouse of St. John’s Catholic Church and Student Center in East Lansing said that he thinks the new pope, elected out of Argentina, is leading Catholics to proclaim the Gospel more effectively.
“First and foremost, Pope Francis hasn’t changed anything the church has actually taught,” Strouse said. “It’s just that people who were on the fringes are starting to look in again. That is a great gift. It’s one of the blessings of Pope Francis’ pontificate … There’s something about him where you just want to say, ‘I want to talk to this guy.’”
Katie Diller, director of student outreach at St. John’s, said she agrees with the pope, but noted that there are problems in every kind of system.
“Wherever there are people there will be problems,” Diller said. “Wherever people are they can become comfortable … The pope is trying to remind us to divest. He’s saying the church has to strip itself of all the honors and freebies and riches that have come along with being successful.”
Mina Lott, an MSU junior, said she thinks that Francis’ papacy will change the way people view the religion as a whole. The 19-year-old agnostic described the pope as “less uptight.”
Still, some are skeptical of whether there are big changes in store for the church.
John McClendon, MSU professor of philosophy and adviser to the Secular Spartans, said that, while there is “no doubt” Francis will change the way the church is viewed, he can’t help but notice major problems with the institution itself.
“Overall I would say that my response will be to look more closely at the root issues than just at cosmetic changes,” he said. “I don’t think we’re going to see those kinds of root changes.”
As for the future of the church, McClendon said that he thinks political persuasion will play a big role in determining Francis’ popularity.
“The prior pope was more concerned with reconciling with more conservative members of the church,” McClendon said. “There is a trend now within the church where Francis seems to be more concerned as to how he can reconcile with the more liberal elements in the church.”
Pope Francis’ Original Interview with La Repubblica
Further Reading from The New York Times
¿Porque? Upswing in Spanish speakers as number of Latino speakers falls
By Kelsey Block
EAST LANSING – According to a recent trend found by Pew Research Center, the number of Spanish speakers in the United States is expected to rise. However, the trend also states the number of Latinos that speak Spanish is projected to fall to about two-thirds of the Latino population by 2020.
Estrella Torrez, assistant professor of the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University, said she has seen the trend reflected in her own work with Latino youth but does not think it is specific to Latinos.
“I think that it’s not necessarily a new trend, it’s just the third generation trend,” Torrez, 36, said, noting that the third generation tends to be more disconnected with their grandparents’ native country because they are embedded in U.S. culture.
Kimberly Gilmore, a 22-year-old dietetics major, said that she has noticed Pew’s trend in her Latina friends.
“It’s just them assimilating into American culture. English is their first language at home; it’s more prevalent. It helps them with school,” Gilmore said, adding that some of her friends can speak Spanish but not write in the language.
Torrez also suggested that the upswing in the number of non-Latinos learning Spanish is partly explained by economics.
“A lot of time people learn Spanish because they think they’ll have an economic leg up. People who are bilingual have a stronger command of skills that will end up translating into higher economic gain,” she said.
David DeSelliar, a MSU junior, said he thinks the trend is “weird.”
“I feel like [Latinos] are losing their tradition, losing their roots, and becoming Americanized,” he said.
Still, the 20-year-old chemical engineering major said that he thinks there are important benefits for Latinos who know English.
“I think English is pretty much taking over the world,” DeSelliar said, adding that he has not studied a language other than English.
Jonathan Montalvo, a Spanish teaching assistant at MSU, says he isn’t surprised by Pew’s findings. Montalvo, a native Spanish speaker, added that he doesn’t usually have many Latino students in his classes.
“However, I don’t think it means that Spanish will be completely lost, I think we may have variations of Spanish, which many people would not consider Spanish, but who are you to judge?” Montalvo, 25, said. “Language is a living institution and it changes, language is not a fixed category with fixed characteristics.