March 31, 2013 | by Matthew Murphy
Pope Francis Begins Papal Legacy

Earlier this year, Pope Benedict XVI chose to step down from the position as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, citing his being “tired.” Whether that alibi stands the test of time remains to be seen. However, the church goes on and the College of Cardinals had to elect a new leader. Many were wondering if this would be the first time the leader of the Vatican would be from the Western hemisphere.

Their thoughts were quenched March 13 of this year. The newly elected pope is Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina; he chose to take the name of Pope Francis.
The Argentine chose the name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi. Pope Francis is first papal leader from the western and southern hemispheres and is also the first pope who is a member of the Society of Jesus.

Although religion was always important to Pope Francis, it was not always his plan to become a priest. As a student, he studied chemistry and psychology. However, he found his way into the church in 1967 and was ordained as a priest two years later.

On June 27, 1992, he was ordained a bishop, with his official title being Titular Bishop of Auca. The newly ordained pope was made a cardinal during February 2001. Pope John Paul II ordained him when he traveled to Vatican City.
Many people have been asking questions about Pope Francis. Some of these include electing a South American pope; others include the idea of his very clean record.

To answer the first question, religion is widespread now; very few religions are only practiced in certain areas. Eventually, a pope would be from another part of the world; the world is much too large to leave the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church to Europeans alone. Apart from Italy, the United States has the most cardinals in the world.

To answer the second question, you may have to delve a little deeper. There was much controversy around Pope Benedict XVI’s election to the papacy. He grew up as a child during the World War II; he was a German as well.

Many people of the Jewish faith felt slighted that a man who had been part of Hitler Youth had become the leader of the world’s largest Christian religion. To counteract this belief, many feel that Pope Francis was elected due to a very positive record of working with other religions, specifically his positive relationships with the Jerusalem and Islam.

It will be about five years before people will be able to accurately judge Pope Francis not just as the leader of a religion but as a leader in general. With the world in constant turmoil, sufferers of the Roman Catholic Church will look to the newly elected Pope Francis during trying times.

He may not affect the world economy directly, but he does indirectly. His job is to make sure that his followers have the belief to keep going.

For the first time in a long time, a leader has emerged from South America who can be a positive. So often, South American leaders are met with distaste. Names like Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, General Augusto Pinochet of Chile and Medellín Cartel leader Pablo Escobar. Those three people are arguably the most famous residents their respective nations have ever seen.

However, in Argentina, Pope Francis will probably only reach as high as number three, despite being a shining light. In Argentina, the beautiful game is true religion. The derby matches between Boca Juniors and River Plate are the stuff of legends.

Despite having the ability to be a national treasure, Pope Francis will never pass the likes of Diego Maradona or Lionel Messi, the best soccer player on the planet. If the pope can pass those two, he will leave a truly remarkable legacy.

Matthew Murphy

Sports Editor

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