So we now have a new Pope: Francis I. The 266th Pope in the two thousand year history of the Catholic Church is an interesting and in some ways transformational choice. As is usual in these papal conclaves, the man chosen was a complete surprise. How this man will guide the Church in the future will be even more interesting to watch. For the first time since Columbus reached the Americas in 1492, the New World now has its own Pope. As a pope from Latin America, this makes sense, since Catholicism was first nurtured in the New World by the Spanish in Latin America. North American Catholicism is a later development. Theologically and doctrinally, he is very orthodox, so we should not expect any changes on matters such as priestly celibacy, sexual ethics, etc. On these issues I will continue to advocate what I believe to be the proper changes that need to be made or at least seriously considered. Besides, it takes the Church centuries to evolve on certain issues, so no one should expect any dramatic changes on certain doctrinal issues in our lifetimes. On issues of social justice, however, he seems to be a man of true substance, someone who has a deep love and concern for the poor and the downtrodden. His name, Francis, inspired by the life and works of the wonderful St. Francis of Assisi, proclaims to the world the importance he gives to works of mercy and charity and humility.
In a world where economic inequalities seem to grow each day, where cold and unbridled global capitalism seems to control most aspect of our lives and we are all becoming expendable clogs in a gigantic corporate machine, Pope Francis I will be a welcome influence in promoting true and real social justice.