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A man of firsts, Pope Francis is remarkably humble and conservative

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 14th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

At the moment Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio became Pope Francis, the Catholic Church turned a corner. Francis has already set the expectation that he will be a different kind of pope, judging from how he has behaved in the past. Still, his conservative credentials remain beyond question and should be just what the Church needs at this moment of challenge.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - One of the first choices a new pontiff makes is what name to take. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio chose Francis, which is a first for the office. It's not just the choice of the unique name that suggests a break from the past, but it's also what the name implies.

Saint Francis of Assisi was an advocate for the poor and for humble and pious living. It suggests that Pope Francis will share a similar focus, emphasizing care for the poor as a major part of his administration.

Pope Francis isn't all just talk either. As a cardinal in Buenos Aries he lived in an ordinary apartment rather than a formal residence, he cooked for himself, and he used public transportation to get around instead of being driven by a chauffeur. He frequently visited area slums and has long been an advocate for the poor.

His humility is already becoming legendary. Even when he was to be presented for the first time, he declined the use of a platform that would have elevated him above the other cardinals, instead preferring to remain at the same height as they. "I'll stay down here," he is reported to have said. He then asked for a prayer for himself before administering a papal blessing to the crowd, yet another break from tradition.

Pope Francis I is also the first Jesuit pope, with a degree in chemistry.

He is also the first pope from the Americas.

If however, you think he may be a pope that will "liberalize" the Church, there's news about that too.

Pope Francis has already made his conservative credentials quite clear. He has spoken out firmly against politicians, doctors, and others who support anti-life and anti-family agendas, saying they should be denied communion. He is a staunch defender of life. He wrote and delivered a statement in 2007 which included the following statements:

"We should commit ourselves to 'Eucharistic coherence,' that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive Holy Communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortions, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated. This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals."

Pope Francis has already acknowledged the challenge the Church faces saying that he was answering God's call to "repair my Church in ruins."

Vatican experts say that his selection was a very careful strategic choice. Although hails from Argentina, his parents were Italian immigrants and he speaks Italian. It is believed this will give him enough insider clout to fit comfortably into Vatican life. However, he is also an outsider, and analysts say an outsider would be required to reform the Curia.

Let's pray they are correct.

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