Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was elected pope yesterday, becoming the first pope from South America. The new pope will take the name Francis. While his election was considered a surprise by some, since he was rarely mentioned as a frontrunner before the conclave, he was popular among the cardinals, coming in second in 2005 when Joseph Ratzinger became pope, according to an unconfirmed diary of one of the cardinals who was present.
This choice surprised some Polish church officials. “I don't know him at all,” said Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek on the TVN24 news station. “He's from outside Europe, and he's a Jesuit. It could mean that changes [to the Catholic Church] are coming.”
Vatican experts in Poland praised the choice, hoping Pope Francis could reform the Roman Curia, the Vatican's administrative body. “It's a clear signal that cardinals expect changes, fresh blood and new ideas,” said Artur Sporniak, a journalist from Tygodnik Powszechny, in an interview with radio station TOK FM. “They've made it clear that they want someone from outside the system to reign over Catholic Church,” he added.
Others are more skeptical. Father Kazimierz Sowa, director of religious TV station Religia.tv, said in a Radio Zet interview that he doesn't expect a revolution. “The balance of power might shift a little bit, and some interesting personnel changes in the Curia might occur.”
Polish President Bronisław Komorowski sent a congratulatory note to the Vatican, wishing the new pontiff “great strength in fulfilling his new and very important mission, not only for the Catholic Church, but also the whole world.” He also invited the newly elected pope to visit Poland.
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