By SHANNON VENEGAS
The newly elected Pope of the Catholic Church not only comes from a different area of the world but brings a new name, a fresh outlook on papal customs and a set of decisions that show he is not taking sides.
Pope Francis I took his name from Francis of Assisi, a saint who gave up all of his wealth to serve the poor.
Pope Francis has made it clear that he wants the Catholic Church to be a “Church for the poor.”
In addition to his decision to reside in a simple suite at a Vatican hotel as opposed to the Papal apartment, he spent his Holy Thursday washing the feet of prison inmates at a juvenile detention facility.
In addition to serving the poor, Saint Francis was also a proponent for the environment and animals — a lover of all that is living. By choosing this name, Pope Francis is showing an appreciation for all living creatures, including the environment.
According to Sister Joan Penzenstadler, vice president of mission and identity at Mount Mary College, the Pope has also upheld the decision from Pope Benedict XVI to reprimand a majority of the sisters in the United States.
He met with a delegation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in April and informed them of a plan to have three bishops oversee a program of reform.
This decision affects 80 percent of the sisters in the United States who were reprimanded for focusing too much on economic and social inequalities and not enough on combatting abortion.
Beyond these first obvious choices, it is important to observe some of the more major decisions that could positively affect the future of the Church.
According to Sister Linda Marie Bos, one decision to watch for is how he plans to lead the Church as he deals with the reform of Curia, the central governing body of the Church.
“He has appointed a task force of some very strong individuals to help him govern and to suggest reforms,” Bos said. “Which suggestions he decides to act on will be very revealing.”
Sister Joan Penzenstadler also commented on the strength of the new Curia.
“Over the years, a few of these cardinals have voiced concerns about aspects of Vatican operations that are in need of serious revision, and two of them have played central roles in response to the child sexual abuse crisis,” she said.
With the choice of a name that promotes peace and a love for nature along with his conservative decision regarding the sisters in the United States, it seems Pope Francis is not taking sides.
He is showing a love for all living beings: the unborn, the poor, the environment and all its living creatures.
And with a strong governing body, Pope Francis I is sure to breathe life into a struggling Church.
“Early indication is that the Pope will take a hands-on approach to leading the Church,” Bos said. “He also seems to take a global view of leadership and of the Church. I am hoping that his Jesuit training and his respect for Francis of Assisi shape his thinking as Pope.”