Cardinals locked away in the Vatican today successfully voted on the 266th Pope. Jorge Bergoglio, 76, a relatively unknown Argentinian cardinal, has become the first man from the Americas to be elected to become the Pope.
As someone with no religious beliefs, I was surprised to realise I was actually experiencing some anticipation once the white smoke began to billow out from the Sistine Chapel’s chimney. It wasn’t because I particularly cared about the Pope – although I was hoping for someone with more progressive views than his predecessors – but more down to watching history in action. Rather boring history, maybe, but history nonetheless.
Unfortunately, despite the unusual circumstances regarding his election (the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, him being a non-European, creating his own Papal name, etc.), his beliefs appear to be nothing revolutionary. He recently described homosexuality as a “destructive attack on God’s plan”, and a quick bit of Googling shows his views on traditional issues such as abortion and euthanasia remain just as conservative. Couldn’t find much about his thoughts on contraception, but I don’t hold out much hope in having a Pope who’d actually contribute towards progress in fighting diseases like AIDS.
I expect this brief surge of interest in the Catholic Church is only temporary; unless Francis somehow manages to bring it into the 21st century, my normal criticisms should resume shortly.