Elected monarchs are uncommon. Even less common are absolute, elected monarchs. Thus, the election of a new pope is something of a spectacle – it’s not exactly an everyday event.
Still, Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, the newly elected Pope Francis, has some long strides to go to restore the reputation of the Roman Catholic Church.
Francis cannot let the cover-ups continue. He has to work with law enforcement, not against it. No more trying to hide victims and no more paying them off to stay silent while the abusers continue to work with – and abuse – even more children.
Looking over Francis’ past work, I am torn. On one hand, he is a champion for the poor and downtrodden. He has crusaded for the right treatment of children, and the church could definitely use some people who are interested in treating children correctly.
He also has compassion for those less fortunate than himself and demonstrates modesty. Pope Francis has refused to live in the archbishop’s palace, instead preferring his small apartment outside Buenos Aires.
In 2012, he made a speech criticizing religious leaders and reminding them Jesus Christ bathed lepers and ate alongside prostitutes.
On the other hand, he has also supported the church’s stances against homosexuality, calling it “an attempt to destroy God’s plan” in 2010. He is similarly opposed to abortion and birth control.
I suppose it would have been too much to hope that one of the primary ambassadors for religion in the world still has a hang-up with people having sex unsupervised by priests.
It’s possible Francis will be a reformer and change the way that the church has been behaving. It’s possible that the string of firsts that this pope has ridden will continue with “first to accept that LGBT people are not damaged” or “first to realize that the Church’s stances on abortion and birth control don’t make sense together.”
It’s possible, but I don’t really think that those things will happen – and neither does anyone else, apparently.
“I don't expect him to change on doctrine, but he is a more pastoral person,” told Massimo Faggioli, Italian theologian, to Reuters. “It seems that this pope will be more aware of what life is all about."
Hopefully Francis will remember his humble livelihood in Buenos Aires and keep in mind the poor people that he has so often fought for.
Hopefully he uses his power as an absolute monarch to raise people up rather than keep pushing them down.