“Habemus Pamam Francisum,” reads the first Tweet from the new @Pontifex. The induction of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina is a sign of new beginnings for the Catholic Church. He is the first pope to ever choose the name ‘Francis I,’ a sign of his rebellious spirit, considering most Popes go by the more generic ‘Paul.’ Besides his name, Pope Francis’ progressive nature is indicated by his Latin America roots, a shocking choice by cardinals who haven’t chosen a non-European Pope in twelve centuries.
His origin played a strategic role in the cardinals selecting him to be Pope, as they have realized that a majority of the world’s Catholics live in the southern hemisphere. In selecting a Latin American Pope, the cardinals have revitalized hope and religious commitment among their largest population. A Jesuit, the new Pontifex is skeptical of authority, rather focusing on advocacy for education and service. Pope Francis demonstrated his humility and desire for reform on his first full day as Pontifex by avoiding too much pomp and circumstance. He entered prayer services at a Roman basilica through a side entrance, leaving 30 minutes later to return to the Vatican. Additionally, the Pope picked up his own baggage and insisted on paying his own bill at his residences at the Domus International Paulus VI, where he was staying before he was elected. Clearly, the Pontifex understands that he is always setting an example, and he seems to really be acting on his word of cleaning up the Vatican Bank from egregious spending.
Now 76, Pope Francis was formerly the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is likely to connect with many Catholics looking for reform in a Church plagued with scandal. He is known to be a “man of the people” through his simplicity and humility.
Formerly a tango dancer, Francis is able to relate to a wider audience. The son of an Italian immigrant, he cooks his own meals and takes public transportation, something New Yorkers can relate to.
Committed to the poor, Francis encourages Church officials to aspire to be like Jesus by helping others. Goals on his agenda including reforming the Curia (the group that runs the Vatican), cleaning up the Vatican Bank (limiting outlandish spending by Church officials) and help the Church rise from the negativity of its sexual abuse scandals.
Similar to all Popes before him, Pope Francis has some skeptics. He has referred to gay marriage as a “destructive attack on God’s plan,” and is opposed to using contraception and abortions.It is no shock that these statements can upset liberals, especially from New York, but Popes aren’t known to start belting ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina,’ and Pope Francis is no exception to this trend. There is no word on whether he will be grabbing lunch with Mayor Bloomberg but the Church officials and cardinals seem to be very pleased with their choice.
One thing is for sure, Harlem rappers A$AP Rocky and Azealia Banks would not be so pleased with Francis’ social views on gay marriage. It would not be surprising to see Banks, who is openly bisexual, devote a track on her new album to the Pope.
Rocky’s relationship with the Pope is also likely to be rocky. On his title track, Long Live A.S.A.P, Rocky rants “a bunch of hypocritic Christians, the land of no religion, my Santa Claus was missing catch you slippin’ then it’s Christmas.” While Rocky seems disappointed in the scandal and hypocrisy of the Catholic Church, he does seem wishful of social reform. A$AP Rocky battles topics like gun control, a particular issue in Harlem, and a reform Pope Francis would likely endorse if he was a New Yorker. Although Pope Francis has some social views that skeptics would call reactionary, he does seem very progressive for the Catholic Church, through his humility and simplicity. One would hope that other Church officials follow in his footsteps to find common ground with skeptics, moving past scandal and entering a modern, A$AP era.