There is another thread about the new pope, but it’s basically filled with pope jokes. On a more serious note, the Catholic Church cardinals have elected a new pope, and he will have signifcant influence over the church and its 1 billion members during his reign. In some ways, the cardinals’ choice is encouraging. His given name is Jorge Mario Bergoglio, and he is from Argentina. He took the name Francis in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, a humble friar who lived in poverty, administered to the poor, and founded three religious orders (within the Catholic Church) during his lifetime. He is the first pope to take the name Francis. He is the first pope from outside of Europe in 1000 years. He is the first Jesuit pope. When he was elected, he refused to sit on the White Throne in the Sistine Chapel as his fellow cardinals congratulated him, as is customary. He refused to stand on a platform during his first blessing to his followers at St. Peter’s Square. He refused to wear papal regalia during the blessing, wearing only a simple white cossock. He asked the crowd to pray for him first. Before he was pope, when he was first elected as cardinal, he told his supporters in Buenos Aires not to pay for the flight and hotels and other travel costs to see him elevated to cardinal in Rome, but to give the money to the poor instead. He lived in a simple apartment instead of the cardinal’s palace. He cooked all his own meal. He refused to be chauffeured in a limo, choosing instead to take public transportation.
He is very clearly, a humble man. Peggy Noonan noted in an article today that the abuse scandal of the church was founded in arrogance - specifically, the belief that special people like priests deserve special privileges, and any abuse can just be handled by the church internally. Francis I seems entirely without arrogance. I think there is a good chance he will take a dim view towards abuse of children by priests.
He’s not perfect, or an ideal choice in my view. He’s rabidly anti-gay marriage and adoption, and led the effort against the Argentinian president as she tried to legalize both (she succeeded, he failed). But he’s also a 76 year old Catholic priest, so this isn’t a big surprise. Still, altogether I think he is a good choice for a church no longer taken seriously even by many of its followers. St. Francis believed God called him to fix his broken church. I think Francis I has heard the same call.