The white smoke billowing out of the Sistine Chapel chimney, signaled a changing of the guard for the Catholic Church. Acknowledging the almost half billion Catholics who live in Latin America, the council of Cardinals finally recognized the "new world" by electing Archbishop of Buenos Aires, CardinalJorge Mario Bergoglio, as the next Pope.
The 76 year old Argentinian, will be the first non European Pope to be elected in over 1,000 years. He will be known as Pope Francis from now on, indicating he plans to model his life in the same prayerful and humble role as St. Francis of Assissi.
If it’s any indication of his future humility, Cardinal Bergoglio once went to a hospital where sick aids patients lay. He washed and kissed their feet as he said prayers, blessing and expressing his love for them.....He is also well known for his compassion and outspokenness for the poor and downtrodden
Another first is that he is from the Jesuit order, the Church has never had a Jesuit as Pope before.
Other “new world” Cardinals were mentioned as possible candidates for Pope as well, including Irish American Cardinals: New York's Timothy Dolan, and Boston's Sean O'Malley.
Cardinal Dolan, particularly would have been well suited to head the Church as he has a stellar reputation for accomplishing tasks, can maneuver through the world of secular politics and is a master at communicating with the media…Strengths necessary as the Church is besieged by a bevy of problems, including outside secular forces and competition from other sects of Christianity….But many other problems the Church faces, are of their own making.
Rumors swirled around the idea of having an American Pope. Some people think too much power is already vested in America and to have an American Pope would be too much. Others said they would be suspicious that an American Pope would be working for the CIA.
Although Latin America accounts for almost half of the population of Catholics in the world, it only has 22 Cardinals out of the approximately 125 elector Cardinals worldwide. So this new Pope signals the recognition that the Churches future growth, for now, lies in the developing parts of the world.
In spite of its problems the Catholic Church is the single largest religion in the world with 1.2 billion members. It is the wellspring of world charity in places where little of that exists and has brought education to millions who would have otherwise been denied a chance to be educated. The Church was also instrumental, under the helm of Pope John Paul, in bringing down the Soviet Unions Iron Curtain that had enslaved millions around the world.