Without a doubt the media attention given to the election of a new pope reached an all-time high this past week. Worldwide coverage was given to the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as pope.
The Roman Catholic Church cardinals, meeting in Rome, elected on the fifth ballot a cardinal who took the name of Pope Francis I. His election was a “first” in several categories: First pope from the Americas; first Jesuit pope; and first to take the name Francis. He has been described as a man of simplicity. He believes in social justice and has a strong reputation of working among the poor and afflicted. He is a traditionalist in Catholic teachings.
Because there are about 1.2 billion Catholics in the world, with 40 percent in South America, because the cardinals come from many countries, and because of the pomp and traditional election process of a new pope, the world was tuned into the massive media coverage. It rightly was called a historic event.
It is a challenging time for the pope since some aspects of the modern culture contrast sharply with the fundamental teachings of the church, internal scandals that must be resolved, and a Vatican bureaucracy that many believe should be reformed.
From what is known about Pope Francis, his style will be different from other popes, simple, and his focus will be on people, especially the poor.