This week the Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church elected a new Pope. Going into the conclave there wasn’t a front runner like there was in 2005 when Benedict XVI was elected. When he was known as Cardinal Ratzinger, he was a major force within the Vatican. The new Pope Francis, formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, is a little bit of a curve ball in my opinion. As a non-practicing Roman Catholic, I was expecting the cardinals to vote in a out of touch conservative individual and they surprised me. They picked a South American Jesuit.
I am very partial to the Jesuits because I am the product of years of Jesuit education. In today’s Times, the paper wrote a quick article about the Jesuits. They are the most educated priests within the Church and they stress social justice and simple living. They know how the world works in so many words. Many work in ministries that serve the poor directly. Also, the Jesuits are mostly liberal. From what I’ve read, Pope Francis is theologically conservative, which is a little bit of a disappointment. He was appointed by John Paul II, who was very conservative, so he reflects those views. The one thing with the Jesuits is that they do have to fall in line with the Vatican, but if you ask them in private they will speak their opinions. I remember in college when a Jesuit stated that he was pro-choice and backed up his opinion.
Back to Pope Francis, the Times has published many articles about him. I like what I’ve read, especially about the modesty of the man. In my opinion there is a large gulf between the leaders of the institution and the people they serve. Pope Francis lived in a small apartment, cooked his own meals, and rode the bus in Buenos Aires. I really like that he stressed serving the poor when he was a cardinal.
What waits for him as the new pope? A very “screwed up” Roman Catholic Church. The institution needs to refocus on serving the poor and underserved. It needs to step forward instead of back like it did under Benedict.