March 13, 2013

It's Pope Francis I, formerly known as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina -- and a vocal advocate for the poor. (Hence, the name, in honor of St. Francis.) As you would expect, he is against gay marriage and abortion. He is also the first Jesuit to become Pope:

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, from Argentina was elected as the Catholic Church's new pope Wednesday night. Thousands of Catholics gathered under umbrellas outside St. Peter's Basilica, eagerly listening to the church's 266th pontiff, who addressed the faithful from the balcony.

Dressed in white, Bergoglio, who is now the first pope from Latin America, recited the Lord's Prayer.

The new pope replaces Benedict XVI, whose surprise resignation last month prompted the 115 Roman Catholic cardinals to initiate a conclave, a Latin phrase meaning "with a key," to pick a new leader for the world's almost 2 billion Catholics.

Bergoglio, a Jesuit, is the first pope ever elected from Latin America, a region of the world with 480 million Catholics. He won the necessary two-thirds vote after only two days of the conclave. Bergoglio was archbishop of Buenos Aires, but stepped down last year.

This seems promising:

Bergoglio often rode the bus to work, cooked his own meals and regularly visited the slums that ring Argentina's capital. He considers social outreach, rather than doctrinal battles, to be the essential business of the church.

He accused fellow church leaders of hypocrisy and forgetting that Jesus Christ bathed lepers and ate with prostitutes.

"Jesus teaches us another way: Go out. Go out and share your testimony, go out and interact with your brothers, go out and share, go out and ask. Become the Word in body as well as spirit," Bergoglio told Argentina's priests last year.

And this does not:

The extent of the church's complicity in the dark deeds was excellently set out by Horacio Verbitsky, one of Argentina's most notable journalists, in his book El Silencio (Silence). He recounts how the Argentine navy with the connivance of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now the Jesuit archbishop of Buenos Aires, hid from a visiting delegation of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission the dictatorship's political prisoners. Bergoglio was hiding them in nothing less than his holiday home in an island called El Silencio in the River Plate.

The most shaming thing for the church is that in such circumstances Bergoglio's name was allowed to go forward in the ballot to chose the successor of John Paul II. What scandal would not have ensued if the first pope ever to be elected from the continent of America had been revealed as an accessory to murder and false imprisonment.

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