Andrew Brown tells us with confident prognostication that the choice of Bergoglio as the new pope shows a decisive shift from Europe, and, laying it on a little more thickly, suggests that the election of “Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio to take office as Pope Francis is an extraordinary leap away from the conservative and cautious nature of the last two papacies.” Not to allow that piece of non-information to stand by itself in lonely ignominy, the goes on to say that
[t]he election of a Latin American Jesuit would also have been unthinkable 30 years ago.
Electing a non-Italian was almost unthinkable little more than forty years ago, so this doesn’t add much of substance to the opening piece of padding. Others are a little more awake to the realities of the world. Some have called the 78-year-old a caretaker pope. What more can a 78-year-old man be expected to be? And in the Globe and Mail (which has done its best over the last while to mimic the most downmarket of local newspapers) Margaret Wente shows that she is at least alive to some of the problems facing the church, problems from which, from all accounts, the new pope won’t save it:
The Church embraces an ancient set of values that the modern world rejects. It’s hierarchical, rigid, top-down, secretive, centralized and authoritarian. It demands obedience at a time when more and more Catholics demand self-determination. It has largely been unable to appeal to a rising, urban, educated middle class.
The press, predictably, seems to have gone all gaga over the fanfare, the sumptuous vestments, the ritual, the colour, and the pretence of piety — falling hard for the holiness illusion — but seem not to have any idea at all about the reality behind the benign face of the new pope, or what his election really portends.