The other day our five-year old son was having a conversation with Alison about the papal elections (he goes to a catholic primary school).  ‘Mummy, you know the cardinals and the popes?  Are they all boys?’  Alison: ‘yes, they are at the moment’.  Son: ‘I hope they don’t choose me’.  Well, no one was relieved as he was when the white smoke appeared from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel last night and the world was introduced to Pope Francis I.  We don’t know a great deal about him at the moment, and much of the speculation as to his likely style is shooting in the dark.  However, I found I quickly warmed to this man with a modest bearing, gentle face, simple delivery and tantalising choice of papal name.  He is the same age as Pope John XXIII, one of the last members of a religious order to be elected pope (though I believe John Paul II was a third-order Carmelite).  I’m not expecting another Vatican Council, but I’m hopeful that his apparent commitment to the poor and to a less regal style can be a blessing for the Catholic Church.  I’m not a Catholic, but he has my good wishes and prayers.

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