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Letters: Francis likely transitional

Published: Tuesday, March 19 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

In this photo made available by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis delivers his speech as he meets the Cardinals for the first time after his election, at the Vatican, Friday, March 15, 2013. Pope Francis offered intimate insights Saturday into the moments after his papal election, telling an audience with the press that he was immediately inspired to take the name of St. Francis of Assisi because of his work for peace and the poor, and was embraced by another cardinal amid applause inside the conclave.

, AP

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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

Provo

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