Last Wednesday, the conclave of cardinals made a swift decision regarding a replacement for Pope Benedict XVI, choosing Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Bergoglio is the first Jesuit and first South American to be elected pope.
The newly elected pontiff chose the name Pope Francis, in remembrance of St. Francis of Assisi and his devotion to the poor. Pope Francis has a track record of living simply, denying many of the extravagances that came with his position as Archbishop of Buenos Aires and now, the papacy. These things show his devotion to the poor and less fortunate. Combined with his commitment to the Jesuit mission, it is likely that the Church will place greater emphasis on social justice in the coming years.
Church leaders are often viewed on a lofty pedestal, distanced from the most impoverished Catholics. With the refreshing focus of Pope Francis, Catholics of all backgrounds all over the world can feel a closer link to the Church leaders and bigger part of the Church body.
Some were surprised at Pope Francis’ age of 76, expecting that a younger cardinal would be elected to the position. It is yet to be seen how Pope Francis will connect with the youth. This is a very important issue since the youth will shape the future of the Church.
Although it is important for the pope to adhere to the Church’s stance on controversial issues, it is also imperative that the Church adapts to increasingly important topics in this day and age. Pope Francis must find a way to engage all Catholics, especially the youth, so as to unify all Church members and embrace changing times. Church authorities should hold discussion forums to educate people more precisely on the Church’s position on various topics and clarify the reasoning behind some Church doctrine.