New pope represents break with tradition

Pope Francis

The election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires as supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church was unusual for several reasons.

These include his choice of papal names – Francis, the first pope to take that particular appellation – and that he is the first pope from the Americas.

But it’s also noteworthy that Francis is the first pope to come from outside Europe in nearly 1,300 years, since Gregory III was elected in 731; that he is the first Jesuit to be elected; and that he is only the second pontiff in 1,100 years to take a name unused by a predecessor.

Also, Francis will not use a Roman numeral after his name. There will only be a Francis I after we have a Francis II, a Vatican official quipped to the Associated Press.

The last pontiff to choose a previously unused name was John Paul I, who reigned for 33 days in 1978. However, his name a combination of that of his two immediate predecessors, John XXIII, 1958-63, and Paul VI, 1963-78.

Prior to John Paul I, the last pontiff to employ a new name was the little-remembered Lando.

According to a 1910 entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia, Lando was a native of the Sabina, Italy, and was believed to have been elected pope in July or August of 913. He died the following year, in either February or March, after a reign of a little more than six months.

“Nothing more is known of him except that he was a worthy man, and granted a privilege to a church in his native Sabina,” according to the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Gregory III, the last pope from outside Europe, was born in Syria and ruled from 731 to 741. Gregory left more of a mark than Lando: he sought to temper the iconoclastic tendencies gaining steam in the Byzantine Empire, restored the walls of Rome in response to threats from the Lombards and promoted the Church in Northern Europe.

He also banned the consumption of horse meat, both domestic and wild.

It is apparent that given the challenges facing both the Church and the world as a whole today, Francis will likely face issues of greater importance than the need to strengthen Rome’s walls or pondering whether horseflesh should be allowed at the dinner table.

And one can only hope the Lombards don’t grow restless again.


6 thoughts on “New pope represents break with tradition

  1. Love that Gregory111, the Syrian, banned horsemeat, given the horse DNA scandal in Europe at the moment. 🙂 Great hopes that Francis might effect change in Rome – interestingly,although many Irish are in Rome for the Rugby match at the weekend, they did not go to the Vatican for the papal election,saying that in the child sex rape scandals in Ireland and how they were dealt with,kept them away .

    • It’s going to take a long time for the Church to make amends for the sins of a few. Not to excuse the inexcusable acts committed by men of the cloth over the past few decades, nor to excuse others who covered it up, but the Church is run by humans and humans are imperfect and fallible.

      One can only hope that the Church has learned that its first goal should be to protect innocent lives, not to look out for itself.

    • If the allegations are true, then, yes, it would be extremely bad news. I would have to imagine, however, that some sort of vetting process would have taken place over the years, whereby cardinals eligible to be elected pope would have had their records scrutinized, especially in the wake of the pederasty scandals of recent years.

      • One would certainly hope so. The RC Church needs saving from itself, these days. It would be good to see the sort of root and branch reform that would make it more relevant in the early 21st century. With the global economic crash and the scandals in the finance markets one might ask where was the church of Jesus the scourge of the moneylenders? That question could be asked of all the Christian faiths.

        Ironically, the Saudis and other Gulf potentates used to do most of their financial transactions in the “Western” world beyond the restrictions of Islam on usury, etc. What did that say about Judeo-Christian civilization?

      • If I understand Islam correctly, lending money at any rate of interest is considered usury. Very few banks or individuals are going to put their money at risk without some opportunity for a return (interest).

        What went on in the huge financial corporations and the ensuing mess it caused was scandalous certainly, but I’m not sure that that particular mess can be attributed to Judeo-Christianity.

        What’s more discouraging, in my opinion, is that even one church official, never mind dozens or more, turned a blind eye to sexual abuse by priests of their flock. The welfare of a single individual should take precedence over protecting the reputation of a parish, diocese or even the entire church when unethical actions have taken place.

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