Jorge Bergoglio begins his papacy as Francis I facing the challenge of a Catholic Church caught up in a burdensome contradiction with modern society, because of its negative attitude to sexuality and women.
The new pope’s choice of the name Francis, to honour the Catholic Church’s patron saint of animals and the environment, has awakened the hopes of ecologists and others who are concerned about rampant consumerism and the deterioration of the planet.
Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff, a leading exponent of liberation theology, the progressive current in the Latin American Catholic Church, does not believe reports that depict the new Pope Francis as collaborating with Argentina’s 1976-1983 dictatorship.
Argentine archbishop Jorge Bergoglio was selected as pope at a time when the Roman Catholic Church in this South American country is facing a rebellion by priests and laypersons who reject the role of the church leadership during the 1976-1983 dictatorship and the lack of reparations for past omissions and complicities.
The selection of a Latin American pope, who is known for his austere lifestyle and his work with the poor, has created a stir among Catholics in the region, who are confident that Pope Francis will help bolster the Vatican’s tarnished reputation.