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Pope Francis I
March 13, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
I have a few initial thoughts on the new Pope Francis I, formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina.
I saw his welcome speech and thought he seemed informal, likeable and down to earth. He asked for the crowd and people watching over TV and the Internet to pray for him and also led them in prayers for churches worldwide, prayers that every Catholic child learns by age 6 or 7: the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be. This could only have made everyone feel part of the occasion.
By initial press accounts, Bergoglio is a theological conservative, which was probably inevitable for the new Pope based on the turn the Church has taken in recent years. On the other hand, Bergoglio was noted for his strong concern for the poor and dislike of pretension. He gave a speech last year scolding priests who refuse to baptize the babies of single mothers, noting that this could only drive people away from the Church and that Jesus Christ himself sat down with prostitutes. He chose Francis as his Papal name after Saint Francis of Assisi, a saint famous for his ministry to the poor as well as his love of animals and the environment.
Bergoglio is a chemist and also made a habit of cooking his own dinner and taking public transportation. He's also a Jesuit, the first one from the order to become Pope. That's an order noted for producing strong intellectuals who sometimes have criticized Church theology. Some of his fellow cardinals apparently think he's a saintly fellow. He's also the first Pope from the Americas.
I don't know if it's terribly wise to choose a new Pope who is already 76, particularly since Pope Benedict recently resigned because his poor health means he can no longer do the job. On the other hand, maybe it should be a new tradition for Popes to abdicate when they no longer feel up to the job.
What do you think of the new Pope Francis I?
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