Commentators on right wings sites here in the US, who prefer those small chapels filled with the like minded, have reacted with horror. 'Non habemus papam,' wrote one in Latin yesterday on the Free Republic website, meaning we have no pope.
'We’ve got problems, worse than we imagined,' wrote another about the new pontiff.
Others were unequivocal: 'Pope Francis, I am done with you. Enjoy your 'new' church.'
Although it's still much too early to determine what Pope Francis stands for or what he could come to represent, one very telling detail about his life has caught my eye this week. His favorite film is Fellini's La Strada he said.
That film, roughly, is about two different ways to live in the world - one way is to see life as a shrewd speculation, an opportunity to promote your own advancement, a lifelong self-interested scramble for whatever crumbs fall your way before you die.
The other way to live is the open hearted way, where your primary goal becomes the quest for love and the willingness to share your own love. On this path your life will be enriched only in direct proportion to your willingness to share what's inside you. You are your own fortune, what you get will be the mirror of what you give.
Most people don't have the courage to live this way or take this path. Jesus did, but there have been few enough willing to follow his example.
The moral of La Strada (which means 'The Way') is that even the most selfish, loveless nature can evolve and become better. We watch it happen in the film, leaving us to wonder if it can happen in life?
La Strada may hold a clue to Pope Francis' deeper nature. If it does what it tells us is that it will be his faith in love that is so troubling to his critics. Each time he faced an intractable social issue he has picked faith over ideology. He has picked forgiveness rather than a fight.
'I see the church as a field hospital after battle,' Francis said. 'It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars. You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else.'
It looks like he’s only getting started.