It was interesting to see a world not overly critical of the Church for a moment while the 115 Cardinal Electors were in the Sistine Chapel to deliberate and pray for the one who would lead them. Lots of names had been thrown around before hand, and many felt that if we had a early decision it would most likely be an Italian, or perhaps a European.
Ultimately once we were able to discern that the smoke was white we discovered that the man to lead the Catholic Church for the next period is from Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio. His father was an Italian railway worker and his mother an Argentinean. He grew up in Italy, and has a qualifications in Chemistry.
He trained as a Jesuit (Society of Jesus) and, has run a seminary, and has a personal devotion to Mary under Knots. He became a Bishop in 1992, and led the Bishops apology to the Argentinean people for te wrongs done by members of the Church during the military dictatorship in Argentina. He has also served as ordinary for the Eastern Catholics in Argentinean as they had no prelate of their own. He is liturgically competent in Eastern Liturgy.
He became a cardinal in 2001. Rather than live in the ArchBishop of Buenos Aries Palace, he has lived in his own apartment, taken public transport in preference to the chauffeur driven limousine, and chose to cook his own meals. His ministry has been marked by a degree of humility.
He was accused of being complicit in the imprisonment of two priests, and has denied this and certainly the case has not be upheld. This relates to the mid 1970’s under the dictatorship. Generally it is held that he did not collaborate with the dictatorship, and clearly there are those who thought he did not stand up enough. There are clear signs that as he has grown he has continued to take more of a stand for the poor and the oppressed and against the evils of oppression.
One of the great challenges that he faces as he comes for a part of the world where justice has been hard fought for on a daily basis, that the contemporary western world may not always understand where he is coming from, and his priories may be a fraction different.