Pope Francis Portrait Painting

Pope Francis

The council of Cardinals has spoken. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, has been named Pope and had taken the name of Francis. What do we know of this man? He is 76 years old. He is a Jesuit, the first of this order ever elected to the papacy. He is from the Americas, again the first ever from that region. He has taken the name of Francis, the first Pope to take that name.

In choosing the name Francis, he has already started a frenzy of speculation. Did he select the name to honor Saint Francis of Assisi, a wealthy young man who turned his life to living in poverty and helping all in need? That is the current line in the news. Did he take the name from Saint Francis Xavier, one of the founders of the Society of Jesus (Jesuit order) to which he belongs? His motives have not been explained, but in the long run, does it matter?

The airwaves have also been filled with speculation of how the new Pope will make the Catholic Church “Relevant”. This is a spectacularly arrogant question posed by human secularists. They have been trying to train generations of children to consider religion to be marginalized and have had some success, probably on the order of 20 million people who really agree with them. With this backing they want to know how the Pope will make a church of 1 billion people relevant.

The question that is really being asked is, how is the Pope going to steer the Catholic Church to be more in line with the teachings of the American media and academia? Specifically, the pundits want to know how the Pope is going to embrace gay marriage and abortion. They will be shocked and appalled that he considers adoption by same sex couples to be child abuse and that he considers abortion to be murder. These are basic teachings of the Church that do not change just because of public opinion polls in New York City.

Will the Pope institute changes? Definitely. Will those changes deviate from the fundamental teachings of the Church? Definitely not. Every person in the world has their own beliefs and desires, those are not the concern of the Pope. The Pope has the responsibility of steering the largest single religious organization and organism in the world. He has to care for, speak for, answer for and teach over 1 billion people. In some ways he represents all Christians, even those who have specifically denied his authority.

Will his stance on cultural issues hold back the Church? To some the answer will be yes, to others the adherence to tradition will be comforting in a troubled world. All of us can pray that he makes good decisions and if you are religious, that he listens to the Holy Spirit and does what is right in the eye of God without consideration of the acclamations of men.


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