Yesterday Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was elected to replace Pope Benedict XVI.

After two days of discussion, the conclave announced that they had selected Cardinal Bergoglio to lead the Catholic Church and assume the name Pope Francis. He is the first Latin American pope, as well as the first Pope selected from outside Europe in more than a millennium.

Despite being lauded as a champion for social justice and the poor, Pope Francis shares the very conservative social views of his predecessor. Vocal in his opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage, and the ordination of women, Pope Francis frequently came into conflict with the Argentine government. During the debate to legalize same-sex marriage in Argentina, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner criticized the then-Cardinal, “It’s worrisome to hear phrases such as ‘war of God’ and ‘projects of the devil,’ which are things that send us back to medieval times and the Inquisition.”

Pope Francis takes the helm of the church amid scandal of the previous Pope’s involvement in cases of priest pedophilia and corruption within the Vatican. During his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI came under scrutiny for the Vatican’s handling of sexual abuse by priests in the United States and throughout Europe. In 2011, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Survivor Network of Those Abused By Priests (SNAP) filed a case against the pontiff in the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity in a cover up by Vatican leadership in cases of sexual abuse of children by priests. In addition, the Vatican came under financial scrutiny in 2012 when the Pope’s personal butler released private documents of the pontiff in an attempt to expose the corruption of the church.

Media Resources: New York Times 3/13/2013; Washington Post 3/13/2013; Feminist Newswire 2/12/2013, 7/15/2010

Saint Peters Square and cathedral during sunset, Rome from Shutterstock

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