‘Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected in a surprise choice to be the new leader of the troubled Roman Catholic Church, taking the name Francis I and becoming the first non-European pontiff in nearly 1,300 years. (13 Mar ch 2013)’.
‘The first Latin American pope, Argentina’s Jorge Bergoglio is a moderate known for his strong negotiating skills as well as a readiness to challenge powerful interests’.
The first non-European Pope may have been born on the other side of the world, in South America, but his heritage is still resolutely European and white . . . still he seems to be quite different from his two staunchly conservative predecessors, John Paul and Benedict. The BBC gives this short press review: ‘The first non-European leader of the Catholic Church for 1,300 years is pictured on most front pages, waving to the thousands of people gathered in St Peter’s Square. “Pope Francis the humble” is the main headline in the Daily Telegraph, which says he appeared “as surprised as anyone” by his election. The paper describes him as the “antithesis of Vatican pomp”, highlighting that he is “a man known for catching the bus and eschewing the luxuries of high office”. For the Independent, he’s an “inspired and original choice” and a signal that “change has come” to the Catholic Church. The Sun says that when Pope Benedict announced it was time for a younger man, “few imagined his replacement would be 76”, but the paper reckons Francis has “energy and charisma”. The Guardian welcomes an “extraordinary leap” from the conservatism of the last two papacies, and a “decisive shift in the church’s centre of gravity”. The Daily Mail asks simply whether he can “clean up his troubled Church?”. The Times believes the new leader of the Catholic Church gives “every indication of inspiring admiration, even devotion, as well as respect”. But it goes on to add that the Argentine is “not untainted by controversy”. The Sun reports, bluntly, that “Pope Francis wants Britain to hand back the Falklands”. The former Archbishop of Buenos Aires has said previously that the islands were “usurped” by Britain, and in 2010 he insisted the Falklands “are ours”. Several papers also report that he’s been accused of complicity in the kidnapping of two liberal Jesuit priests by Argentina’s military junta, during the so-called dirty war. He has denied the allegations, and insists he helped many dissidents during the dictatorship’.