This is the New Pope from the New World with the New Name. Elected this day, Wednesday 13th March, 2013, he is the First Pope ever to come from Argentina and is the first Jesuit Pope.
Pope Francis is the 266th Pope, and is regarded as the First Non-European Pope ever, although he is the son of Italian immigrants to Argentina. He comes from a military background and is 76 years old.
He has chosen to be known as Pope Francis, after St Francis of Assisi, the saint of the same name, who is the protector of animals and of the poor. He is the first Pope to use the namesake of St Francis of Assisi. This name is appropriate, because the care of the poor is a primary concern of this new Pope.
Pope Francis comes from the Society of Jesus, who are known as God’s marines. He is not only the first non-European Pope to ever be elected, he is the first Jesuit to be Pope: The Jesuit priests are known as missionaries and educators of the people.
The voting has just been completed at Vatican City, around 7AM New Zealand time. A Cardinal dressed in red has just appeared on the balcony overlooking St Peter’s Square, who made the initial announcement in Latin to the waiting crowds.
Pope Francis has just stepped out in his white robes, after the introduction by the man in red who was accompanied by two Cardinals in white garb, to make his first appearance to the thousands awaiting in St Peter’s Square in Rome. The crowds have been eagerly waiting the past 12 hours or more. He said a Prayer and the ‘Hail Mary’ for the people of the world.
Pope Benedict XVI stepped down last month, taking the world by surprise, and, presumably, the various squabbling hierarchies at the Vatican. His age, he said, was prohibiting him from carrying out his duties properly. No doubt, the issues of same-sex marriages, child abuse within the Church, the question of contraception, and perhaps his early history as being part of Hitler’s youth movement in Germany, may have caught him up in many unpleasant debates. He certainly looked years younger, and an awful lot happier, smiling with joy as he walked towards his helicopter which was ready to swiftly move him away, out of sight, out of mind from the world.
After several issues of black smoke in the early hours of our NZ morning, we finally saw the white smoke issue from the chimney of the Vatican around 7AM, on our tellies at home, which indicated that the voting had been successful, and the new Pope had been decided.
It is not too much of a surprise to learn that the Bishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina was chosen over the other candidates: For a start, he won the second highest amount of votes in the last Papal election. The other reason he might have been chosen this time round is that the Catholic population in Argentina, a tradionally Catholic country, has been declining. Only two days ago, BBC told us that Argentina has lost FOUR MILLION CATHOLICS over the past ten years. They have left the Catholic Church to join other denominations. Perhaps some of the four million people are people who have died, but the alarm bells in the Catholic Church have still been ringing as to the dwindling numbers of Catholics all over the world, and especially in Argentina. The Bishop of Buenos Aires has an evangelizing mission, and as the new Pope, he should be empowered to help bring more people back into the Church.
Pope Francis has stated that he wishes to politicize the Catholic Church again, so that it may influence the decision-makers of the world to favour the opinions of the Catholic Church.