Just over a month after learning that the so-called “Green Pope” would resign his post due to poor health, the Catholic world has chosen a new leader. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires will assume the position of Pope, the first ever from South America. His predecessor, Benedict XVI, was decidedly pro-environmental, teaching that stewardship of natural resources was commanded by God.
Will the new Pope, dubbed Francis, live up to, or perhaps continue, Benedict’s eco-friendly doctrine and writings? We poked around in what little biographical information is available and were quite encouraged by the findings.
First, all of the reports and articles we’ve read about Francis thus far indicate that he’s a humble man and a champion of the poor, two characteristics that are far too rare in the world today. The Rev. James Martin, one of the best-known Jesuit priests in the U.S. and the editor-at-large of America magazine, said the “choice of a Jesuit pope fills me with joy … The name Francis is a clear indication of his desire to focus on the poor.”
We also learned that Francis is a fan of small, efficient living spaces and public transportation, too trends it would be awesome to see him support from his office. “As archbishop of Buenos Aires, he reportedly rode the bus to work, did his own cooking and visited the poor in Argentine slums. Instead of living in an archbishop’s palace, he chose to live in a small room in a downtown Buenos Aires home,” reports the Huffington Post.
Although he’s not likely to reject the Vatican Palace for a studio apartment (he’s probably not allowed to anywhere) there’s no doubt that his preference for efficient living will lead him to enjoy the papal audience hall’s solar panels and rooftop garden. Will he also continue to use the electric cars Benedict acquired for the Vatican and its police force? Only time will tell.
As the new leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, assuming power during a time of scandal and unrest in the church, it will be interesting to see the issues he chooses to make his own. Here’s hoping that a sense of responsibility toward the planet and her resources will be one of them.