Pope Francis’ visit will be profound moment for New York Latinos

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NEW YORK -- The historic spiritual trek of Pope Francis to New York City next week will have an impact on Catholics throughout the area.

It also will be a profound moment for the hundreds of thousands of Latinos that call the Tri-State area home.

Ana Burgos is already selling rosaries and Pope pins along St. Nicholas Avenue in Washington Heights. She says that this trip is important because Pope Francis has a message that brings all communities together.

Claudio Urbina of Queens feels that this is the right Pope for the right time in history, "He has a mentality that is much more advanced and in tuned with the times we are in."

Urbina spoke with PIX 11 News at the San Antonio Bakery in Astoria. The Chilean restaurant is operated by Mabel Santana, who on this day -- when not serving up "empanadas" or "alfajores" -- was dishing out her thoughts on a pope who connects to Latinos in a manner that no Pope has before, "We see him as part of us. We can relate to him because he's got a way of thinking, the way we do."

Christian Cheuque, a Chilean-American admits he is not as deeply religious as others but says that Latinos have two viewpoints of the pope.

"They see the pope not only as a religious figure but they see him as a political figure," Cheuque said. "So in that sense he has a lot of power and whatever he says people will sort of follow not necessarily do it automatically but they will give it thought."

Regardless, he says that having a pope who is Latino will undoubtedly strengthen the church with the community but at the same it will be mutually beneficial, "It's a big impact, having a Latino anything would make and is making a very big impact, simply because people feel like they can relate to him and more importantly they feel like he can relate to them."

One interesting note, PIX 11 News entered into several "botanicas" -- religious stores -- in Washington Heights and East Harlem where the pope is scheduled to visit a Catholic school. Surprisingly, we were not able to locate one candle with the image of Pope Francis. They tell us they haven't stocked them yet, but we did find a little angel.

Angel, a 2-year-old, was like nearly every Latino we spoke with. He was a fan of the had one wish, "Quiero ver al Papa Francisco."

Translation? I want to see the pope.

Little Angel, like the majority of New Yorkers, may need some divine intervention.

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