The election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now known as Pope Francis, signals a period of fundamental productive shift for the Catholic Church.Catholic followers aim to be praying that Pope Francis might lead the Church to change perceptions after the discovery of clerical incidents.
The election of Argentinian born Jorge Mario came as a surprise to many who expected a younger Pope. The astonishment, however, is that Jorge Mario is the first non-European Pope elected since 741 AD Pope from outside of Europe, signifying the Catholic church’s acknowledgement and recognition of over 40% of the world’s Catholics outside of Europe.
Pope Francis’ humility seemed to be visible for the world to see upon his appearance in St. Peter’s Square in Rome, reciting the Angelus prayer to thousands and asking his followers to ‘Pray for me’.
Pope Francis seemed to been praised internationally for his down-to-earth mannerisms, a trait evident in his personal settling of payments in the hotel he had lodged in during his time at the Conclave.
Jorge Mario presence within the Catholic Church, particularly in Latin America, might be attributed to the modernization of the formerly conservative Argentine Church, and as a Jesuit he appears to have deep knowledge of the Catholic order.The process of re-election prevailed the idea that the new Pope would need to be younger and able to evolve the Church.
Pope Francis, 76 years old, thus he may significantly have to drive his focus towards the Church’s modernization, continuing from predecessor Benedict XVI. Pope Francis’ previous life in the Catholic Church highlights an ideology that seeks to benefit those having challenges in civilization, and to far from overlook these things, however instead to ‘have a missionary role, that gets out to meet people’. Many might wish to see Pope Francis bring unity and a balancing force to the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis’ position as Pope may still be a challenging one. The Catholic Church is still affected by claims of clerical incidents, and debates arising over the role of women being far from allowed to fill vacancies in the Church. Jorge Mario is regarded as highly orthodox in relation to sexual matters such as homosexuality and contraception, in which he maintains his beliefs as a Catholic.
Pope Francis appears to be aware of the necessity of re-establishing a bond with the younger community of Catholic followers, and the need to offer an olive branch after the sexual incidents. Moreover, by electing a non European Pope, it may allow the Catholic Church to fade the stain of clerical incidents.
The election of an Argentinian Pope widens the opening for Latin America and their involvement in the Catholic Church, a possible route to unification and the improvement of relations. Therefore Pope Francis undoubtedly has a role to fulfil – being that of a Pope who is able to unite the Catholic Church together across the world in a move that seeks to build bridges with its followers.