Habemus Papam! We have Pope!
Jorge Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, has been elected as 266th pope, succeeding Benedict XIV who resigned on the last February.
This is a big surprise for two reasons: firstly, the Argentinean archbishop was not seen as a favourite – even as a challenger – by the experts of the Vatican especially face to Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milano and Marc Ouellet, archbishop of Quebec. Furthermore, the one who now is named Francis comes from Latin America, which is new for the Catholic Church.
The reactions regarding his election were quite positive, some people insisting on the modest and simple behaviour of a Pope reputed for his involvement and his proximity vis-à-vis the poorest in Argentina and his weak consideration for the protocol. Such a profile is quite welcomed at the moment the Church of Rome is experiencing a quite important decline and a loss of influence although it remains.
Indeed, the Francis’ mission is simple: guaranteeing a certain renewal of the Church less on the values but rather on exemplarity to be more legitimistic. Electing him, the conclave probably looked for giving a positive image to a Church of Rome tarnished by repetitive scandals and paedophilia and other burning issues plus a more and more distrust of some believers in Europe, a continent where the crisis of the vocations is the most important and where the Catholic Church is experiencing the stronger and stronger concurrence of Protestantism and Islam.
The election of Jorge Bergoglio as Pope is quite logical insofar as he comes from a continent where the Catholic Church is progressing and more and more influent. Indeed, I think it would have been a mistake to elect a Pope coming from Europe or even North America at the moment the future of the Church of Rome is more in Latin America and Africa than in Europe.
But what Pope Francis is going to bring to the Catholic Church and what is the pontificate looking like? He is introduced as a simple, ordinary and ground man, in spite of an embarrassing past due to his ambiguous attitude during the military dictatorship in Argentina in the 1970’s and his very conservative point of views on homosexuality or the involvement of women of the Church. The most progressive people – which I was part of – within the community of believers probably will be disappointed a little bit and would have wished a more involved and open Pope. But, the accession of Francis means a major turning-point in the Catholic Church History insofar as this is the occasion for it to come back in certain simplicity and certain humility, more in accordance with the evolution and the current and upcoming challenges of our world. Despites its convictions and its principles, the Catholic Church must be able to question and reform itself if it still wants to weigh and remain credible and influent especially. This is the mission Francis received, probably to prepare his successor better.