I must admit that I did not know anything about the new Pope when I posted my enthusiastic, Spanish-English post below. I was just happy to see the first Pope come from the New World.
The New York Times has just published a more in-depth column on who the new Pope is and what we may expect of him.
I have posted a few excerpts and summaries at the end of this column. To read the entire article, please go here.
As a South American myself, I am extremely proud, and humbled, that our newest Pope is the first Pope from Latin America, the first Pope from the New World — the first from outside Europe in more than a thousand years.
It seems appropriate to include in our announcements and felicitaciones one in the native language of Francisco I, courtesy SDPNoticias.com:
El cardenal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, de nacionalidad argentina, 76 años de edad, es el nuevo Papa. Se hizo llamar Francisco I.
Así lo anunció el cardenal Jean-Louis Tauran, quien salió al balcón principal de la Basílica de San Pedro para anunciar a quien sustituirá a Benedicto XVI.
Francisco I, de orden jesuita es el papa 266 de la Iglesia católica.
En su mensaje desde el balcón, Francisco I pidió una oración por Benedicto XVI y rezó su primer Padre Nuestro.
“Rezemos uno por el otro, rezemos por el mundo entero, para que haya una gran fraternidad”, externó.
In a fine column by Rahel Donadio and contributed to by others, Donadio expresses hope that in choosing Francis, the cardinals are sending “a powerful message that the future of the church lies in the global south, home to the bulk of the world’s Catholics.”
As has been abundantly made clear here at TMV and elsewhere, the Times also points out that Francis is inheriting “a church wrestling with an array of challenges that intensified during his predecessor, Benedict XVI, including a shortage of priests, growing competition from evangelical churches in the Southern Hemisphere, a sexual abuse crisis that has undermined the church’s moral authority in the West and difficulties governing the Vatican itself.”
Add to that “power struggles over the management of the Vatican bank,” the challenge of making the Vatican bureaucracy “– often seen as a hornet’s nest of infighting Italians — work more efficiently for the good of the church,” and the need to “give local bishops’ conferences more decision-making power to help respond to the needs of the faithful,” and one gets the picture.
And, have I mentioned, “handling the sexual abuse crisis”?
The man who will be tackling all these challenges is described by the Times as a “humble man who spoke out for the poor and led an austere life in Buenos Aires. He was born to Italian immigrant parents and was raised in the Argentine capital.”
In addition to living in just a simple apartment in Buenos Aires, Father Thomas Rosica of Canada, another Vatican spokesman, recalls: “He cooks for himself and took great pride in telling us that, and that he took the bus to work” rather than riding in a car, according to the Times.
In a statement today, President Obama highlighted the compassion, humbleness and New World roots of Francis I:
As a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us, he carries forth the message of love and compassion that has inspired the world for more than two thousand years—that in each other we see the face of God. As the first pope from the Americas, his selection also speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world, and alongside millions of Hispanic Americans, those of us in the United States share the joy of this historic day…
But back to some cautionary words by the Times.
For example, the Times says, “Francis also is a doctrinal conservative who has opposed liberation theology, abortion, gay marriage and the ordination of women, standing with his predecessor in holding largely traditional views” and reminds the readers of then Bergoglio’s being “less energetic…in urging the Argentine church to examine its own behavior during the 1970s,” during the “Dirty War.”
But the Times also writes:
In a long interview with an Argentine newspaper in 2010, then-Archbishop Bergoglio defended his behavior during the dictatorship. He said that he had helped hide people being sought for arrest or disappearance by the military because of their political views, had helped others leave Argentina and had lobbied the country’s military rulers directly for the release and protection of others.
I personally am excited about our new Pope and I hope that, with God’s help, he can turn things around for the Catholic Church, especially in the realm of tolerance, social justice and women’s rights.