From a town on the Spanish Mediterranean I just witnessed on television the designation of the new Pope of the Catholic Church, which fell for the first time on an American cardinal, the Italian-born Argentine Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who from the St. Peter’s Plaza in Rome addressed the faithful and evoked his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who resigned weeks ago but is considered Pope Emeritus despite his retirement.
The unexpected new Pope was names after several ballots and two plumes of black smoke. According to media accredited in Rome, the 76-year-old Argentine cardinal will take command of the Vatican under the name of Francis I. He was archbishop of Buenos Aires and is the first Latin American and the first member of the Society of Jesus to lead the Catholic Church, that “will experience as of today an unprecedented situation.”
Bergoglio is considered “an orthodox Jesuit on dogmatic issues but flexible on matters of sexual ethics,” important issues given the demand for reform from the Curia, whose internal problems were reported in the media from the disclosure of documents known as Vatileaks and the crisis around the IOR — Institute for Works of Religion — analyzed in the last assembly of the Church.
It remains to be seen if the new Pope will be the ”pastor that announces the gospel and mercy” as Cardinal Angelo Sodano claimed. It is expected therefore, that he will address the challenges addressed in the days before the conclave, whose members exposed “The need for a strong pope, who can reform the Curia, organize ministries to make them more effective” and resolve leak scandals, plus “promote dialogue with Islam, address the role of women in the Church and the official position on bioethics at a time of global crisis. “
For Argentina, the appointment as Pope of the Archbishop of Buenos Aires may offset the crisis triggered by the defeat of the government’s claim to the Falkland Islands, whose citizens, in a referendum yesterday, expressed the desire to continue being a part of England.
Miguel Iturria Savón
13 March 2013