So after hours of waiting, the Vatican have finally signalled that they have chosen a new Pope, Jorge Bergoglio, now to be known as Pope Francis. But just who is Pope Francis, and can we expect to see any change in the Papacy under his term?
Jorge Bergoglio is the first Pope to come from somewhere outside of Europe, in fact he’s an Argentinean Jesuit (The Society of Jesus which focuses mostly on missionary work). While Bergoglio was working in Argentina he was a firm advocate of helping the poor and he himself lived a life that adhered closely to that of Christ. Bergoglio famously declined use of the Pope’s personal villa in Argentina, instead opting to live in a small, down town apartment where he cooked all of his own meals and rode the bus to work every day. He seems like a pretty decent guy doesn’t he? Well, during his time in Argentina, the government was a dictatorship and, like most dictatorships, people died. Lots of people. Now, after this regime fell, the church was criticised for not doing more to help people and specific criticism was levelled at Bergoglio in particular because of the deaths of some of his own Jesuit colleagues. He was asked to testify in court to defend the church but due to his position in the Church at the time, he was allowed to use a special exemption and therefore didn’t show. The later governments of Argentina wanted to legalize homosexuality and distribute free contraception’s. Bergoglio protested, he said that gay marriage went against God’s natural plan and that gay marriage and adoption was harmful to children. These claims give us an insight into the Papacy of Pope Francis.
When Pope Francis came out on the balcony to greet the huge crowds that were waiting for him, he was dressed in plain white. Compare that with the previous Pope’s wardrobe.
You know for people who condemn homosexuality, they sure do dress well…
It’s all crimson reds and golds; it’s hardly in keeping with the lifestyle of Christ. Pope Francis has a firm belief in the aesthetic life of Christ and has a history of helping the poor and shunning wealth, he’s even called the Catholic Church out on there excess. Pope Francis will probably keep this aesthetic lifestyle even when presented with the keys to one of the most lavish palaces on the planet. He’s also notoriously camera shy, so he’s not interested in the fame or the wealth. This isn’t to say that his Cardinals will follow him in this approach. He may well be a more Christ like Pope than those before him but there’s no guarantee that the rest of the Church will follow him in adopting it. Another problem comes when we look at his attitude towards homosexuals and contraception. He’s probably been more outspoken about the issue than Ratzinger ever was and now he’s one of the most powerful men on the planet, if not the most. I can’t say that the Catholic Church will change for the better. While Pope Francis’s aestheticism provides a good example to Catholics worldwide, he’s probably not going to be able to reform it to the extent that it should and his views on homosexuality and contraception are only going to cause the Papacy’s stance on them to get far stronger and more oppressive. The only good thing to come out of Pope Francis’s term is that his lifestyle will provide a stark contrast to that of the Cardinals in the Vatican and maybe people will finally start seeing the Vatican for what it really is; a business, and a murderous one at that.