I was very happy to read news reports of Argentine Jorge Bergoglio elected Pope Francis. His elevation from being Archbishop of Buenos Aires to Pontiff of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church is a watershed event in history. He is the first Pope from South America (although he is still of Italian ancestry). That is a win-win: it is a morale booster to Hispanics and still eases the minds of traditionalist Italian Cardinals who might have otherwise been reluctant to embrace "change."
Although the world rejoices now, I would cautiously remind my fellow Catholics to be mindful that Pope Francis is likely to be a "transitional Pope" or "caretaker Pope." At age 76, he is unlikely to have a papacy as lengthy as the late, great Pope John Paul II. Additionally, he is the first pontiff with only one lung. His duties are arduous, even for a much younger man.
I extend my best wishes and prayers to new Pope Francis. I hope his pontificate will be a success and that Catholics worldwide will mentally "brace themselves" for the next conclave, which is likely to occur relatively soon — within a generation — or sooner.
James A. Marples
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