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It’s still much too early to say what the election of Pope Francis will mean both for the Catholic Church and for the world. Unsurprisingly, the cardinals elected a man known for his orthodoxy on cultural issues such as gay marriage and abortion. The leadership of the church remains unwaveringly orthodox, especially on the matter of abortion. Thus, focusing on Pope Francis’s social conservatism is mostly unhelpful. If the cardinals had elected a pro-choice pope, that would have been real news.
What is interesting, however, is that Pope Francis is Argentine, making him the first non-European pope to be elected in more than a millennium. He’s also a Jesuit, which is perhaps even more surprising than his nationality.
“Perhaps for the first time in modern times, the global outlook of the church is reflected at the highest level of the church,” Rev. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, an East African Jesuit, told the National Catholic Reporter.