Written by Matthew Harper. Media by Bobby Williams.
After the shocking resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the new Bishop of Rome has been chosen, and it’s none other than former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, who has taken on the title of Pope Francis. While the world’s Catholics rejoiced at the announcement, others also saw Francis’s appointment as a possibility for exciting change and progress in the Vatican.
Although he’s been in power for hardly more than a week, many people are already enjoying the way Francis is handling the papacy. He’s often wandering into crowds to interact with the people of Rome (worrying his security detail, of course) and displaying views on world issues much differenlyt than those of previous recent Popes. There is some confusion as to his views on certain issues—his stance on gay rights isn’t clear, for example, as his public statements seem to denounce gay marriage even more so than his predecessor, Benedict. Despite this, he also reportedly tried to convince the Argentinian government to implement civil unions for gay couples, leading some to think he’s a supporter of gay rights, which would be a major step in a new direction for the Church—and it will of course take a while for Catholics to get used to a new face leading the Vatican. It looks, however, as though the excitement that started with the conclave to elect Francis has carried over into his early days as Pope.
One humorous incident that has already taken place happened when Pope Francis tried to get in contact with the general of his former Jesuit order. Francis decided to personally call into the Vatican to get connected with the man, but the receptionist who took the call didn’t believe it was actually the Pope, understandably assuming that it was a prank call. The receptionist reportedly replied to Francis’s call by saying, “If you’re the Pope, then I’m Napoleon!” While it’s said the receptionist is deeply embarrassed and upset by the incident, Francis himself took it very light-heartedly, as he seems to be taking every challenge he’s facing in these early goings.
Also earning the new Pope some brownie points with the people of Rome and those following his papacy was his trip to a hotel to pay his bill only a day after he was elected Pope. Francis, who had started his stay there as Cardinal Bergoglio, stopped by the front desk of the hotel to greet staff and take care of his bill. This amused some, as the Church controls the hotel—essentially meaning Francis runs the place. According to Time, Francis wanted to go back and pay the bill for his stay during the conclave leading up to his election because it would set a “good example of what priests and bishops should do.”
So while we haven’t seen many major challenges hit Pope Francis yet, the world seems to be embracing the new Bishop of Rome with open arms. It will be interesting to see how long this wave of approval holds, though as of now it seems the first South American Pope is going to be a very popular leader for a long time to come.