THE new pope will be well equipped to deal with the major issues facing the Catholic Church, according to Vicar General of Sandhurst Diocese Monsignor Frank Marriott.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina became the first Jesuit to become Pope yesterday, taking on the name Pope Francis I.
Monsignor Marriott said former Bishop of the Sandhurst Diocese, the late Joseph Grech, met with the then Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 2009 to give a series of talks.
Bishop Grech said the Archbishop was highly-educated, compassionate and did a lot of work in calming tensions between Catholics and Pentecostal Christians.
“He came home very enthusiastic about the welcome he received, about the initiatives that he (Pope Francis I) was undertaking and the spirit of his involvement with the Pentecostal movement of Latin America, which hasn’t been the most harmonious,” Monsignor Marriott said.
He said his ability to reach out to people of all denominations would be needed in a challenging time for the Catholic Church.
“The issues in Latin America won’t be the same issues in Rome (but) I think he’ll certainly be well equipped to deal with major issues of the day,” Monsignor Marriott said.
He said choosing the name Francis I was significant, as it could be in homage to prominent Jesuit Francis Xavier, or Francis of Assisi.
“Francis Xavier was a missionary in the 16th century and he worked on reaching out to people everywhere,” he said.
“But he probably named himself after Francis of Assisi who was also a missionary and had a real love for animals and nature. He tried to teach us to respect the earth more and I think that’s a direction Rome will be heading towards.”