Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Breaking: Cardinals Elect New Pope
The Cardinals of the Catholic Church have elected the new Pope, Seventy-six-year-old Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, the first pope ever from South America, and probably the first non-European...although realistically, he's of Italian descent.
His election was somewhat of a surprise to outsiders, who expected that the Church might choose a younger man.
He will take the papal name of Francis.
Bergoglio, a Jesuit, is a member of the Church's conservative wing, but he is also known as a practical, Mr. Fixit type of administrator who did good work modernizing and revamping the Church's structure in Argentina.Apparently he finished second in the 2005 conclave that elected Pope Benedict.
Epect no changes on the church;s stance on abortion, same-sex marriage, and contraception. In 2010 he asserted that gay adoption is a form of discrimination against children, briniging him a public rebuke from Argentina's President, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
He’s also known as down-to-earth, living in an apartment instead of the more lavish living quarters designated for a Cardinal,rejecting a chauffeured limousine and taking public transportation public transportation instead, something that will probably cease now that he's Pope. He also reportedly made a fetish of cooking his own meals.
One clue to how Pope Francis will conduct himself - In the past, Cardinal Bergoglio has been outspoken about his belief that there is an “unjust distribution of goods.”
In 2007, he said, “We live in the most unequal part of the world, which has grown the most yet reduced misery the least. The unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to Heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many of our brothers.”
You can probably expect him to be much more oriented towards growing the Church in Asia, Africa and Latin America than Benedict or his predecessors were.
There's no clue how he is going to handle the challenges to the Church from radical Islam, or whether he will re-establish the church's relationship with Jews, something damaged gravely by Benedict.
Also, I note that at 76, Pope Francis is only two years younger that Cardinal Ratzinger was when he became Pope Benedict. I have a suspicion that he may be something of an interim figure, a good administrator who will reform the Church's bureaucracy, be a good steward and be, possibly, a kingmaker for the next Pope.