Updated at the bottom: A UCLA professor weighs in on the question and says yes. First posted at 12:18 p.m.

Perhaps in a nod to its Spanish speaking majority, the Catholic Church today announced that Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina is its new pope.

He will apparently go by the name of Pope Francis I.

So is this guy the church's first Latino pope?

Tough question:

That's like asking if L.A. mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti is Latino (he insists he is, pointing to his family's time in Mexico).

Argentinians are often of pure Italian blood, and Bergoglio's name certainly points to that.

The question is, how do you define Latino? Does a Latino have to have indigenous blood?

Credit: Time

Credit: Time

Anyway, the guy speaks Spanish, Italian and German and is, at the least, the first pope from Latin America and the New World.


[Update at 12:58 p.m.]: Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, associate professor at UCLA's Cesar E. Chavez Department of Chicana/o Studies, votes no doubt when it comes to the question of whether Bergoglio should be considered the church's first Latino pope.

“Yes,” he says. “We can consider him Latino in various respects.”

He says using a test of indigenous blood — the pope's parents are from Italy — “would eliminate a large part of Latin America and a lot of Latinos.” (Salma Hayek and world's-richest-guy Carlos Slim of Mexico might not be considered Latino if indigenous blood were used as the litmus test).

“More important,” Hinojosa-Ojeda says, “is the experience, not the genetic background.”

He said the conclave was clearly conscious of Bergoglio's Latin American roots when it elevated him today:

It's part of a zeitgeist. I definitely think that the Vatican and Latin Americans and Latinos in the United States are considering this absolutely a move toward recognizing the importance of Latino Americans and Latinos in the global church.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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