Optimism, but some questions about Pope Francis

The election today of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio to be the 266th Bishop of Rome is a truly exciting event. As the first pope from the developing world and from the Global South, Francis appears to be the ideal man to lead the Church’s New Evangelization. He is by all accounts theologically orthodox, and more than likely to continue on the path laid by his two immediate predecessors on the critical social issues that confront us. He is also, by all accounts, a man with singular pastoral talent, and as such would appear to possess the gifts required to heal the wounds of the sexual scandals that have plagued the Church, and to reach out to the unchurched and the downtrodden. Many have also predicted that he is likely to seize the opportunity to drain the cesspool of the Vatican curia, which would indeed be a most welcome development.

So Cardinal Bergoglio’s election is indeed cause to rejoice. But a couple of questions nag. It is reported that Benedict XVI’s moth proprio Summorum Pontificum, which was intended to allow for a wider and more liberal celebration of the Tridentine Mass, has not been implemented in the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires. Until this point is clarified, and the degree to which Francis is willing to accommodate traditionalists, as Benedict was, this is cause for concern. In alike vein, it remains to be seen what Francis’ level of commitment to the Anglican Ordinariates will be. The Ordinariate was very much a pet project of Benedict XVI, and I pray that Francis will prove to be as welcoming to former Anglicans as was his predecessor.

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