|
|
The Suburbanite
  • For Catholics, a jubilant day of firsts

  • The issue: Selection of pope

    Our view: Pope Francis faces enormous spiritual and temporal challenges

    • email print
  • The issue: Selection of pope
    Our view: Pope Francis faces enormous spiritual and temporal challenges
    A  big news story is not always a significant news story, but the election of a pope is both. Roman Catholics around the world cheered the choice of their new spiritual leader Wednesday on a day of many firsts. And many non-Catholics are fascinated as well by the selection of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, who becomes the first non-European pope in more than 1,000 years, the first from South America, the first Jesuit and the first to take the name Francis.
    The announcement and first appearance of Pope Francis capped four weeks of suspense and speculation following Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement that he would resign, itself an unprecedented act in modern history. “It was like waiting for the birth of a baby, only better,” a resident of Rome told The New York Times.
    Speculation about the direction in which Pope Francis will take the church will continue, of course. Some of it likely will turn out to be as wrong as the endless guessing about front-runners was, and the predictions that the College of Cardinals would take weeks to make its decision.
    What isn’t in question are the immense challenges facing the new pope, from falling membership in Europe and the United States and the priest sexual abuse scandal to temporal issues such as infighting among Vatican administrators and
    investigations of the Vatican Bank.
    In the meantime, Catholics and non-Catholics alike will start to get a better sense of how this humble man takes to the world stage.
    And Catholics and non-Catholics alike can anticipate a first that is more astonishing than all the others: seeing a new pope greet a pope emeritus.