Probably everyone knew before me about the white smoke. I was at the Hammersmith bus station when I checked my e-mails and saw a news flash from the Washington Post. So, it was quick and relatively painless. The new Pope is from the New World (the jokes about Argentina getting the Vatican and Britain keeping the Falklands are flying already) and a Jesuit. Two firsts for the Papal Curia.
Presumably, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, chose the name of St Francis Xavier as his own. Damian Thompson has an interesting blog on what the new Pope will have to tackle first. Unsurprisingly even for those of us not of the Roman persuasion it is the "corrupt structures of the Vatican curia" that Benedict XVI failed to reform. Perhaps being from the New World will help Francis I - he is less likely to be an insider - but, on the other hand, the Vatican being just like any other political structure, being an outsider has its own problems. On whom can he rely?
What I find somewhat amusing is the need so many people feel to make ridiculous, would-be funny (for which read not in the slightest bit funny), clever-clever and self-satisfied comments. It is as if the only thing that many people have kept when all knowledge of history has been discarded is a rather silly feeling of anti-Popery.
Incidentally, I understand he is not totally sound on the Falklands question but the days of the Vatican actually mustering an army, let alone a navy are over. He will have his hands full with other matters.