Many Catholics are hopeful the new pope will initiate needed change in their Church. There are some early signs that his papacy might be different. But it remains to be seen whether Pope Francis will be a proponent of change or an opponent to it.
In my reading this week I came across a fascinating story about St. Francis that speaks deeply to that last commitment to work toward the repair of an ailing church. This story is a challenge for us all.
Imagine what could happen if Pope Francis truly follows in the footsteps of his namesake. Imagine a more peaceful world that respects religious difference. I believe it can happen.
In a moment of silence at St. Peter's, we saw something we don't see much on the world stage: authentic humility. That's the essence of our faith, and that's what will renew our Church.
When the new pope supports the freedom and equality of all people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and when he shows the world that he has the courage to expose and prosecute every child-raping priest in the Catholic Church, I'll have some respect for him.
On the night of his election, as Francis bowed before the multitudes, the world fell silent for a few moments, as if to catch our collective breath for what is already proving to be a ground-breaking moment in the Church's long history.
Until a week ago, there had not been a pope who also belonged to a religious order in more than a century and a half. No Jesuit had ever been elected pontiff. I had thought this would never happen, in part because Jesuits make a promise not to seek ecclesiastical offices.
Between losses to charismatic Protestantism and a growing number of the religiously unaffiliated, especially among the region's impoverished youth, Catholicism in Latin America finds itself at a critical juncture. New Evangelization will thus most likely become the focal point of Pope Francis' papacy.
In accepting the papacy, Pope Francis now is shrouded in the protection of the church's political vestments. As representatives of an interreligious university, we trust that Pope Francis will wisely recognize the transparency of his new clothes and hew to the naked simplicity of his namesake's example.
We pray with DignityUSA, with Mary Hunt, and with all those who pray that the Pope lives up to the Roman Catholic Church's stand on human rights and dignity for all people.
Pope Francis could use the choice of his name to recall the message of St. Francis' teaching on the holiness of self-chosen poverty, not just for individuals but especially for the church which claims to represent the message of Jesus himself.
If St. Francis' love for all of God's creation, animals, plants, rivers and mountains is alive and with us today, just like his ascetic mission of poverty, then so is his bold peacemaking with the Muslim world. This is a mission worthy of his name, and one can only hope that the current Pope Francis heeds this call.
The Republican Party, in the wake of its failure to retake the White House, and the Catholic Church, in the aftermath of a series of scandals, actually have a lot in common.
Saint Francis and Sultan al Malik found something special from God in each other that changed their worlds for the better. In their memory, I wish Pope Francis all the best, and all the blessings God can give him in his life and his service.
It feels once again that a pope is about to let fresh air run through every aspect of the Church. He may transform its grinding politics, financial imbroglios and leadership vacuum. He has the ability to deal directly with the serious sins of the recent past and clean house. Let the wind blow!
The idea that, by choosing a non-European as pope, the Vatican leadership has signaled that it understands the need for change is laughable.