We have a Pope!
Jorge Cardinal Bergolio of Buenos Aires becomes the 265th to wear the shoes of Peter, taking the reigns of the stressed Catholic church as Pope Francis.
He becomes the first non-European pope since Peter founded the Church. He’s the first from South America; the first from the Americas, and the first to take his regnal name in honor of the co-founder of the Society of Jesus Francis Xavier. He is the first Jesuit pope.
A humble man who gave up his limousine and driver and reported to his office by taking the bus with the people he served, Bergolio is very conservative, upholding the church’s position on abortion, homosexuality, and civil rights. Though of Italian roots, his life has been spent as a conservative within the Jesuit order, and a leader in the Catholic faith throughout South America.
Many American and European Catholics had hoped for a pope that would liberalize the faith, allow priests to marry, accept homosexuals into the faith and take a more secular view of abortion. This pope is more likely to disappoint them, but as time moves forward these things may still come to pass. At ages 76, Bergolio may not be pope more than 15 years, a period when new cardinals, and existing ones may evolve in their positions on these and many others.
His papacy may be expected to change much in the administration of the Church, improving many of the governance issues plaguing the Vatican. We expect a very tough stance on other crises, such as paedophilia and sexual scandals.
Francis leads a population of more than 1.3 Billion people on this planet, and is the only religious leader whose impact crosses continents to almost every nation. As pope, Francis will have the ear of every political leader, and the influence to change politics throughout much of the world.