In a move clearly intended to solidify one of its strongest population groups; namely, Spanish speaking Roman Catholics, the Cardinals have chosen Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina to be the next pope. He chose the name Francis intentionally as a way of signalling his desire to return the Roman Catholic Church to “basics” and care for the poor, an issue about which he is passionately committed.
We can expect the new Pope to be…traditionally Roman Catholic. We can expect
him to reflect the commitment of the Jesuit order historically to standing
steadfastly against the Lutheran Reformation. He is a traditional Hispanic Roman
Catholic. In his very first remarks, the bishop with the new pope, announced a
plenary indulgence for all listening and watching the events.
The new pope took the name Francis in honor of St. Francis of Assisi because
he is a lover of the poor, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Tom Rosica told CNN.
Also, the new pope should be known as Pope Francis, not Pope Francis I.
Further, reports indicate that he has been highly critical of the intrenched
bureaucracy at the Vatican and intends to “clean up the mess” there. The “mess”
there may be much more than meets the eye.
On moral issues, there is little doubt he will continue the Roman Church’s
steadfast opposition to abortion and homosexuality, etc.
From all accounts, he is a humble and modest man who deliberately avoided the
lavish trappings of his office in Argentina and chose to live in a single small
room in a downtown building in Argentina, heated with a simple stove. He
preferred, when possible, to cook his own meals and would make a point of
sitting in the back of the room during gatherings of bishops and Cardinals. He
is known as an intellectual who would admonish his priests to get out among the
people in the slums of Buenos Aires, doing so often himself. He vigorously
condemned priests who refused to baptize babies of unwed mothers, calling out as
unfaithful hypocrites. He rejected the outspoken feminist leader of Argentina
and condemned her views on homosexual marriage, abortion, etc.
Here is his admonition on baptizing children of unwed mothers:
“In our ecclesiastical region there are priests who don’t baptize the
children of single mothers because they weren’t conceived in the sanctity of
marriage,” Bergoglio told his priests. “These are today’s hypocrites. Those who
clericalize the Church. Those who separate the people of God from salvation. And
this poor girl who, rather than returning the child to sender, had the courage
to carry it into the world must wander from parish to parish so that it’s
Bergoglio stated about homosexuality:
In a letter to the monasteries of Buenos Aires, he wrote: “Let’s not be
naive, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive
pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but
rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the
children of God.” He has also insisted that adoption by homosexuals is a form of
discrimination against children. This position received a rebuke from Argentine
president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who said the church’s tone was
reminiscent of “medieval times and the Inquisition”.
We Lutherans can be thankful for Pope Francis’ support of traditional
Biblical values on key moral issues. At the same time, we will continue the work
of the Reformation and continue to insist on the Gospel reformation of the