BY ASHLEY CURRIE
White smoke rose from the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City on March 13, marking the election of a new Pope, and possibly the beginning of some much-needed change in the Roman Catholic Church.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina was elected and chose the Papal name of Francis in honour of St. Francis of Assisi, who is known as the patron saint of animals and the environment and who chose to give up his worldly life to live a life of poverty.
This new Pope also embraces the simple life. According to www.guardian.co.uk, Pope Francis, the son of an Italian railway worker and a housewife, likes to travel by bus, used to live in a small flat instead of a formal bishop’s residence, and he told Argentinians not to travel to Rome to celebrate if he was appointed but to give their money to the poor instead.
He also chose a simpler, and less expensive, silver papal ring instead of a gold one.
His election marks some firsts for the church, leading people to be cautiously optimistic about some possible progression in its old-fashioned ways. Pope Francis is the first pope to be a Jesuit, the first to come from the Americas, and the first to come from the Southern Hemisphere.
According to guardian.co.uk, Pope Francis has said he believes that adoption by homosexuals is a form of discrimination against children, but that he also believes that condoms “can be permissible” to prevent infection. Although he is conservative on church doctrine, Pope Francis has also criticized priests who refuse to baptize babies born to single mothers.
Although he is head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis is showing some sympathy toward the general beliefs and practices of many modern Catholics. Although allowing condoms or baptizing babies born to single mothers are small steps, they are steps in the right direction.
For the Catholic Church to have a leader who is at least open to some changes is a really big deal.
It won’t be tomorrow and it won’t be next year, but these positive signs mean, hopefully one day, the Catholic Church will recognize it is in the 21st century and finally embrace change.
The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.