Duluth Papal Historian Shares Thoughts on New Pope

By KBJR News 1

March 15, 2013 Updated Mar 15, 2013 at 9:26 AM CDT

The world's one billion plus Catholics are celebrating their new faith leader; A man who has already captivated a globe with his background and humble demeanor.

Father Richard Kunst of St. John's Catholic Church in Duluth has been watching the latest happenings in Vatican City very closely and joined Courtney Godfrey on KBJR 6 and Range 11 News Today to talk about the election of Pope Francis.

Father Kunst owns the world's largest private collection of papal artifacts outside of the Vatican, and takes a personal interest in papal history.

"I do it religiously everyday, I look for items," says Kunst. "It is really like my life work in some ways--besides the priesthood--it is my hobby."

In the last week, all eyes have been on Vatican City. Father Kunst believes the fascination with the happenings in Italy lie in the fact that the Pope is the leader of one of the largest faith communities in the world.

"The Pope is the moral authority of the world, even if you aren't catholic."

Plus, he says, this is the first time in 600 years that there has been a Pope Emeritus, making the conclave a unique event.

Pope Francis chose his name St. Francis of Assisi, a saint known for his work with the poor.

Formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis has always put heavy emphasis on living simply, and supporting the poor. But Kunst says he chose the name for other reasons as well.

"St. Francis is also the saint of Europe, so I think he wanted to show some solidarity with the people of Europe and the new world."

Kunst says this is a special day for Catholics in the Northland and beyond because there is a spiritual leader again.

"The Pope is not just the leader of a small sovereign nation, he is our spiritual father," says Kunst. "It's a fresh beginning."

To watch the full interview with papal historian Father Richard Kunst click the video.

Courtney Godfrey
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