Wednesday, March 13, 2013

No Pope Torvik for now.

The Roman Catholic Church has a new pope and it is not Mr. Torvik.  Instead, the Conclave of Cardinals went with Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina.  According to Slate, Cardinal Bergoglio (who adopted the name Francis I) is the first pope to: (1) to take the name Francis; (2) be a member of the Jesuits; (3) be from the New World; (4) to have only one lung.
I am not sure which of those four things is most surprising.  St. Francis of Assisi is one of the most prominent saints in the Catholic Church and the order he founded, the Franciscans, has had two of its members elected pope. Given that there have been 23 Johns, one might think that someone would have picked the name.

The New World became known to Europeans in 1492.  A streak of over 500 years without producing a pope seems like a long time until one considers that it has been about 1000 years since a pope wasn't born in Europe.  In a sense, the New World jumped the line ahead of Asia and Africa. 

Given the way that Asia and Africa have been treated, the fact that there has not been a Jesuit pope might  not be as surprising.  On the other hand, the Jesuit order is the largest order of priests in the Roman Catholic Church and was founded in Europe.  Those facts make it seem odd that a Jesuit hasn't been picked before.  It certainly weird to think that a Jesuit university won the NCAA basketball championship before a Jesuit was picked to be pope.  But that may not be a valid way to think about it.

The one lung thing is probably only remarkable to me as I didn't realize people could live with only one lung.  Nice to know that we have a somewhat redundant system when it comes to breathing.

Francis I is reportedly very keen on service to the poor (an area where liberals think the Roman Catholic Church usually does well) but not very keen on same sex marriage and free contraceptives (areas where liberals tend to think the Catholic Church does poorly).  The latter positions (if they continue now that Francis is calling the shots) probably make some pundits think they are geniuses. 

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