Francis' election as pope will strengthen the church

March 19, 2013

The election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the papacy is great news ("The election of Pope Francis," March 14).

Cardinal Bergoglio is a genuinely spiritual soul, and a man of deep prayer who tends to accent growth in personal holiness over efforts for structural reform.

An accomplished theologian, he is especially well known for his great personal humility. Despite his status as a prince of the church, he chose to live in a simple apartment rather than in the archbishop's palace. He also cooked his own meals and gave up his chauffeured limousine in favor of taking the bus to work.

The new pope is also a staunch defender of Catholic moral teaching. He has opposed the intrinsic immorality of divorce, homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage and contraception. In 2010, he was one of the first to propose that gay adoption is a form of discrimination against children.

His doctrinal orthodoxy has always emphasized Christ's mandate to love, and he is well remembered for his 2001 visit to a hospice where he washed and kissed the feet of 12 AIDS patients.

The new Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis, is a rare example of a humble intellectual. With him guiding the Barque of Peter the horizon looks bright not only for Catholics but for all men of good faith.

Rick Arlen

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