And so, the world has a new Pope.
As you’re probably aware, I’m not a Catholic and thus don’t believe the Pope represents me in any way (before God or man), or that he has any authority over me.
It is clear, however, that he is a significant world leader and that the kind of man he is will have an effect both on the Catholic world and the world as a whole. (Just as the new Chinese President will have an effect on the world even though he has no authority outside his own borders.)
I’m writing this early in the morning, having heard only the BBC’s woefully inadequate and pitifully unprepared report as the news broke last night (quote: “He’ll come out wearing the red shoes – or does he only get those when he’s…done, umm when he’s, when he actually becomes Pope?”), and a snippet on Radio 4 as I was waking up a few minutes ago. What I have learned, though, is very encouraging.
The first Pope ever to choose the name Francis – after St Francis of Assisi, who famously adopted an extremely simple, frugal lifestyle – when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires he shunned the trappings and privileges of power, travelling by public transport, living in a small apartment and even cooking his own meals. Doubtless that will all have to change now, but I think it is safe to assume that he will do all he can to resist the lavish lifestyle which could be his and seek to emulate the simple piety of his namesake.
He also opposed the introduction of a same-sex marriage bill in Argentina, bringing him into conflict with the nation’s President. His campaign was unsuccessful, but it tells me that he is a man of strong moral convictions who is not afraid to express an unpopular viewpoint or to stand up to authority. Long may that continue.
And finally he has spoken out against the “abominable crimes of abortion and euthanasia”, which anyone who knows me at all will know wins big points in my book.
I’m sure we will find out far more about Pope Francis in the days, weeks and months to come, but for me, early indications suggest that if there’s going to be a Pope, this is a good man for the job.
Picture Credit: “Habemus Papam” – Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., has been elected Pope Francis’ by Catholic Church (England and Wales) (Creative Commons)