Catholics look for direction from new Pope

Published: Saturday, March 16, 2013 @ 6:53 PM
Updated: Saturday, March 16, 2013 @ 6:53 PM

            Pope Francis, born Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, was elected pope on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, taking over the office of pontiff after Pope Benedict XVI stepped down the previous month. Pope Francis is the first South American to be named Pope. He was elected on the second day of the conclave of cardinals, on the fifth ballot.
            Dmitry Lovetsky

University of Dayton student Katie Baglieri had been standing in St. Peter’s Square for about 90 minutes Wednesday when the smoke began to pour from the chimney, indicating a new pope had been elected.

“The energy of the crowd was insane,” Baglieri said. “It is difficult to put into words how awesome it was to hear the crowd chant “Viva il Papa” and “Papa Francesco” over and over again. Then, when he came out to speak the roar of the crowd was incredible.”

He, as the world now knows, is Pope Francis, the first pope to use that historically significant name, the first Jesuit pope, the first pope from the Americas. Across the region, just as across the world, Catholics are looking at Pope Francis’ background and life story – unique in so many ways compared to his 265 predecessors – for direction as to what his papacy will mean for the future of the Church.

Many say they believe he intends to reform the Church, which has been plagued by scandal, and will emphasize economic justice for the poor – a focus both of the Jesuits and Liberation Theology, which started in Latin American Catholic churches in the 1950s and 1960s.

The selection of the Argentina native has also thrilled Hispanics worldwide.

“It was a historic moment,” said Miguel Diaz, UD professor and the American Ambassador to the Holy See from 2009 until November. “Undoubtedly, the church has made history in terms of expanding in to a more catholic, with a little ‘c,’ universal fold and embracing a new face in leadership.”

The new pope is a bit of an outsider, at least in Rome, where the Catholic bureaucracy is dominated by Italians. Dennis Schnurr, Archbishop of Cincinnati, said he has never met him. Neither has Diaz, who has books in his UD office that were signed by several of the other cardinals who had been considered leading contenders to succeed Pope Benedict XVI. Diaz said Francis, then known as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was not one of the “Roman regulars, in terms of the Roman Curia.”

A Pope from Latin America would bring a definite change of perception, particularly on issues like poverty, said Jana Bennett, an associate professor of moral theology at UD.

“This is where liberation theology comes from, where there’s a strong focus on the people and focusing on the poor,” Bennett said. “That was a radical move in its time and I think it continues to be radical today.”

Picking a Pope who is not from Europe also sends a message that this is a global religion, representing people everywhere, she said.

“I think that’s what this pick means, that this is a church of the people,” she said.

Joe Valenzano, an assistant professor of communications at UD, said it was a day full of symbolism, starting with the chimney smoke, but the new Pope embedded a lot of symbolism himself, starting with his choice of name.

“Francis was someone who reformed the church and the church’s attitudes. He was very much about the poor, very much about helping people, which is also a lot about what this cardinal was doing in Buenos Aires,” Valenzano said

“He was of the people. He rode the bus to work. He lived in a very Spartan apartment. So there’s a symbolic link between the name and his background. And it also indicates what he’s going to do with the papacy.”

But despite the many firsts of this new papacy, some other things will not change — at least not rapidly. Few, if any, believe that Francis will suddenly allow the ordination of women priests, support gay marriage, or or change the Church’s views on abortion.

“Theologically, he’s conservative,” said Sister Louise Akers, a nun who was banned from teaching by the Cincinnati Archdiocese after she refused to publicly renounce her support for the ordination of women. “He’s a traditionalist.”

The new pope will have plenty of reform options, considering the ongoing pedophilia scandal, disarray in the Curia and the financial problems at the Vatican Bank, Akers said. But she said the choice of Francis, so different in background than other popes, shows that the College of Cardinals knows that the church is in need of great change, she said.

“We can expect no sudden change,” Akers said. “For me, there is a lot of hope. It’s not going to happen overnight, and this is one step in the long history of the church.”

Some are calling for rapid change. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s National Religious Leadership Roundtable called on Francis to re-evaluate the Church’s approach to gay, bi-sexual and trans-gender issues, noting that, as cardinal, he “spoke strongly against marriage equality and against the right for gay and lesbian people to adopt children.”

All Out, another gay rights group, went further, as spokesman Andre Banks said that “by electing Jorge Bergoglio to be Pope, the Catholic Church has renewed their commitment to oppose equality for lesbian, gay bisexual and trans people.”

As cardinal, Bergoglio called gay marriage “a lie aimed at confusing and fooling the children of God” and “a destructive pretension against the plan of God,” according to All Out.

Daniel Frondorf, the leader of the Cincinnati branch of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said that Pope Francis has an opportunity to bring justice to abuse victims.

“By dismissing from ministry those bishops and cardinals who have been credibly proven to be enablers of abusive priests, Francis will send a message that a new day has indeed dawned in the Vatican: accountability will be required from not only those who perpetrated the crimes, but from those who looked out for the interest of the church instead of that of the children,” Frondorf said, calling for a world-wide extension of reforms undertaken by many North American bishops, such as finger printing, background checks, and victims’ assistance programs.

Those who challenge the new pope for reform and change point to his new name, that of two important saints: St. Francis of Assisi, a reformer who focused on helping the poor, and St. Francis Xavier, one of the first Jesuits.

“When I heard the news that a Jesuit brother of mine would be the next Pope, I was completely stunned,” said Michael Graham, president of Xavier University. “That the Holy Spirit should choose a man from the tradition of Ignatius Loyola to lead the Church must be a deep consolation for anyone and everyone associated with any Jesuit ministry throughout the world.”

Peter Huff, who holds the Besl Family Chair in Ethics, Religion and Society at Xavier, said the Jesuits were “formed with a very independent spirit from the beginning,” leading to jealousy and distrust from older orders. Because of that, there for centuries the view that a Jesuit would never be named Pope.

“We seem to be entering a new chapter,” Huff said. “Jesuits are known for their social activism, their concern for the poor and their concern for building institutions, particularly educational institutions.”

Diaz said he hoped that the new pope would follow the example of Francis of Assisi, known for his humility and his willingness to challenge the abuse of power and privilege.

“If he follows the example of the name of the saint he’s chosen, I think we’re in for an interesting ride in the next few months and years,” Diaz said.

Preliminary hearing today for Dayton mom accused of shooting, killing children 

Published: Thursday, May 18, 2017 @ 10:40 AM
Updated: Tuesday, May 30, 2017 @ 5:13 AM

DAYTON — A city woman accused of shooting two of her children in the head is scheduled to appear in Dayton Municipal Court today. 

Claudena Helton, 30, is facing several charges including attempted murder and assault charges, according to online court records. 

PHOTOS: Police respond to the scene, neighbors react

Two children were shot in the head just before 10 a.m. May 18 on Lori Sue Avenue in Dayton.

  • The children, ages 6 and 8, died as a result of their injuries
  • Dayton police booked the children’s mother, Helton, on attempted murder charges
  • A third child was unharmed inside the home

The children who  were shot, Khmorra Helton, 8, and Kaiden Helton, 6, suffered life-threatening injuries and died at Dayton Children’s Hospital on May 21.

An 11-year-old girl was not injured.

MORE: Mom had faced earlier child endangering allegations

RELATED: 6 recent times children have been gunshot victims

The Helton family confirmed to our newsroom that no funeral or memorial service will be held for the Helton children shot to death. The family declined further comment, but added they are not participating in any fundraisers.

VIDEO: Neighbor creates memorial

Stephen Fletcher, of Springfield, father to 6-year-old Kaiden Helton, said he had only met his son about four times since he was born.

"I'm devastated right now; I can't sleep, I can't eat, I don't even know what to do with myself," Fletcher said. "I have no answers for nothing."

PHOTOS: Lori Sue Avenue scene

Helton appeared in Dayton Municipal Court on May 22. The judge set bond at $1 million for her. She is being held in the Montgomery County Jail on multiple charges.

Helton was initially held on attempted murder charges but those charges are expected to be upgraded after her two children, Khmorra and Kaiden Helton, ages 8 and 6, succumbed to their injuries on May 21 at Dayton Children’s Hospital.

The judge said after the hearing that the suspect may not realize her children are dead.

Helton has prior child endangering charges in Dayton.

A neighbor living across the street from where the children, both under the age of 10, were shot said a woman was outside the home naked when she saw police responding.

“She just stared at me,” the neighbor, who did not want to be identified, said. “I yelled to the neighbor to give me a sheet and I covered her up.”

RELATED: 6 recent times children have been gunshot victims

On the day of the shooting, Dayton police Major Eric Henderson said responding officers discovered two young children, both under the age of 10, suffering from gunshot wounds. A third child is safe. The condition of the children is unknown at this time, Henderson said.

Police found the children in the front yard of the property.

“It’s an unfortunate incident,” Henderson said.

One woman who lives in the neighborhood reacted to the shooting of the two children. 

“I was completely devastated. I was heartbroken. I was crying. I was emotional,” said Deona Terry, who has four children. “My friend called me hysterical because someone called her and told her, and then as I pulled up I heard the news, and then I found out it was some kids who graduated from the same school as my daughter.”

People were seen attempting life-saving measures on the two children who were found wounded in the front yard from a shooting in Dayton.

A graduation event was going on at the school nearby. That school was on lockdown for about half an hour, and then the lockdown was lifted.

Approximately eight police cruisers and crime scene tape are blocking the area of the 3800 block of Lori Sue Avenue this morning.

The police activity was reported around 10:40 a.m. and initial reports indicated that Rosa Parks Early Learning Center may have been placed on lock down.

Initial dispatch records indicated police and medics were dispatched on a report of a child not breathing, however we are working to learn if that is what officials discovered when they arrived on the scene.

Police have asked witnesses and citizens with any information about the incident to call 937-333-COPS.

1 killed, at least 1 injured in shooting at Middletown bar

Published: Tuesday, May 30, 2017 @ 4:51 AM

Middletown Police who responded to a home in the 1200 block of Short Street just after 9 p.m. Sunday found Crista Virginia Nitz dead on the floor of a bathroom.
Staff Writer

One person killed and at least one other person was injured in a shooting at D & J’s Nite Spot in Middletown early Tuesday morning. 

>> Read the latest local stories in the Miami Valley 

Police and medics were dispatched to the bar at 1200 Elliot Drive around 1:45 a.m. Tuesday on reports of multiple shooting victims at the establishment, Middletown police said in a media release. 

One victim, identified as Julian Marquis Johnson, 23, of Middletown, was shot and pronounced dead at the scene. 

A second victim, only identified as a woman, was also found with a gunshot wound and was transported to Atrium Medical Center, but her condition was not released. 

Police said a third person might have been hit by gunfire, but fled from the scene. Officers said they followed a blood trail to the area of Roosevelt Boulevard and Elliot Drive where they believe the victim was picked up in a vehicle. 

RELATED: Miami Valley’s Most Wanted

The suspects fled the scene before officers arrived, but police did not indicate if they had a description of the suspect.

Police said detectives are working to determine if this shooting is related to previous shootings in Middletown over the last few days. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Middletown Division of Police at 513-425-7700.

We’ll update this page as new details become available. 

For updates and more news click here to download our free apps.

Crash, overturned semi blocks Old U.S. 35 near Jamestown

Published: Tuesday, May 30, 2017 @ 4:20 AM


UPDATE @4:52 a.m.

The westbound lane of Old U.S. 35 is closed after a semi crashed onto its side.

The semi, which is full of sweet potatoes, remains on its side. 


A crash has reportedly left a semi on its side on Old U.S. 35 near Jamestown Tuesday morning. 

>> Read the latest local stories in the Miami Valley 

Deputies and fire crews were dispatched to the area of the Jamestown Church of Christ on Old U.S.  35, about a mile east of U.S. 35, around 4 a.m. on reports of an overturned semi. 

The truck was reportedly hauling sweet potatoes, according to scanner traffic from the scene. 

Old U.S. 35 is reportedly blocked in both directions due to the crash.

We’ll update this page as new details become available. 

For updates and more news click here to download our free apps.

NB I-75 reopens in Butler County after early morning crash

Published: Tuesday, May 30, 2017 @ 1:57 AM
Updated: Tuesday, May 30, 2017 @ 4:35 AM

UPDATE @ 4:35 a.m. 

All lanes of Interstate 75 in Butler County have reopened after a crash shut down the northbound lanes for around three hours, according to dispatchers with the Hamilton Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. 

>> Read the latest local stories in the Miami Valley 

State troopers said the crash was originally dispatched as a crash with injuries, but additional details on the incident were not available. 

RELATED: OSP investigates cause of fatal crash on Ohio 129 on Monday

We’ll update this page as more details are released. 

UPDATE @ 2:45 a.m. 

Police from other agencies are diverting traffic from northbound Interstate 75 onto westbound Ohio 129. 

Officers said the suggested detour is westbound Ohio 129, to northbound Cincinnati Dayton Road, to eastbound Ohio 63. 

Additional details about the crash remain unavailable. 


All lanes of northbound Interstate 75 are shut down just north of Ohio 129 in Butler County following a crash Tuesday morning. 

Dispatchers with the Ohio State Highway Patrol confirmed troopers were dispatched to a reported crash that occurred before 1:30 a.m. on northbound Interstate 75, between Ohio 129 and Ohio 63. 

Dispatchers confirmed the northbound lanes of the highway were shut down, but it was unknown when the highway would reopen.

Additional details were not available. 

We’ll update this page as we learn more. 

For updates and more news click here to download our free apps.