Jorge Mario Bergoglio was chosen yesterday to revive the Catholic church's image by becoming their public face as the 266th pope.
A humble and practical cardinal, he gave up his mansion and stayed instead in a small apartment. He'd take public transportation instead of the traditional chauffeur driven cars. The first Latin American pope, he promises to go a long ways toward reviving PR for the Catholic Church by personal demonstrations of concern for the common people.
Jorge is trading in his name for Francis in honor of Francis Xavier, who helped launch the Catholic revival in the mid-1500s. Francis Xavier co-founded the Society of Jesus AKA the Jesuits AKA “God's Marines.”
His co-founder was Ignatius of Loyola, who had a military background, inspired his new army of Jesuits to accept orders anywhere in the world and to endure extreme conditions, thus becoming fairly radical missionaries.
Now that those days of conquest and empire building are over, I suspect we are to assume that this new Pope Francis, who is a Jesuit, means to apply the enthusiasm of his name's sake to the practical business of improving the conditions of the people. He's a little backward on the topic of gay rights, but he believes in interfaith dialogue and is relatively progressive on the issue of contraception.
He made headlines in 2009 when he criticized the Argentine government, saying that it was "immoral, illegitimate and unjust" to allow inequality in the country to grow. "Rather than preventing that, it seems they have opted for making inequalities even greater." He said, "Human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that creates huge inequalities."
So, Pope Francis may actually be a humble champion of the people. He may lead a religious revival of humility and practicality, and (God willing) may actually revive the sagging image of the Catholic Church.
This just in: The Vatican insists that Jorge Mario Bergogli is not naming himself after the militant missionary who help start the Jesuits, of which the new pope is a member. Instead, he taking the name of the beloved mystic and social advocate St Francis of Assissi.