Mrs maytrees and I watched the announcement live on BBC2, of the appointment of His Holiness Pope Francis I (perfectly timed to coincide with my return home from the day job) and were impressed at the Vatican's pageantry.
It was good also that one of the first actions that Pope Francis took was to emphasise that the traditional plenary indulgence would extend to those listening or viewing on Radio and TV.
The fact that he is the first Jesuit Pope is a surprise. As it happens with two others I was having a working drink/meal with a local Jesuit at the Dog and Fox on Tuesday night less than two days before the Vatican's announcement, who said half jokingly, that he hoped the new Pope would not be a Jesuit! I can sympathise with that comment but personally consider that the Church needs as much intelligence coupled with humility as it can muster in these difficult times. The Society of Jesus is renowned for including among its members several men with with really great minds. (The issue of possible women catholic clergy is one for separate consideration at another time though).
My own view is that he is a great appointment; humble but very intelligent with little negative background (no one has none). He is well placed to tackle some of problems affecting the Church as a non-Italian and I look forward to seeing how the Church in Europe will develop now.
Hopefully he will attract back younger generations who have been swept along by consumerism and put off by the rigours and yes, some hypocrisies of the Church.
Something though probably an exaggeration to say that 'much', is made in the Guardian newspaper this morning of the reports that Pope Francis failed to support two Jesuits who were kidnapped from their church and tortured by the Argentian regime in 1976 and then subjected to torture at a time when the new pope was Jesuit Provincial in Argentina. One of the two men died some years ago but the other is alive and still a member of the Society of Jesus. From the newspaper report though there has been a reconciliation between the two men which in my view gives grounds for much optimism.
Frankly what one does or does not do in the face of brutal regimes is nearly always easy to criticise. Only martyrdom tends to avoid such criticisms but I am not sure that death of great leaders is necessarily the best way forward for the ordinary man and woman who endure such oppression and have to live on perhaps grindingly so after the deaths of such leaders.
The fact that Pope Francis is also an Argentinian makes for some interesting diplomacy re the UK but that surely is a side issue. Nonetheless I was pleased that David Cameron spoke up while attending a meeting in Brussels whilst at the same time as emphasising his respect, shortly after the announcement from the Vatican, expressing his supportive view about the decision of Mrs Thatcher to re-take the Falkland Islands in 1982 for the local population which did and still does not want Argentinian occupation.
It will be interesting to see whether Pope Francis arranges to visit this country and if so when. The British visits made by his two immediate predecessors including one which before it took place the Falklands war issue had raised the possibility of cancellation, were far more successful than anyone here had expected A third papal visit to this country would surely be successful.
The Church, the planet and us all are facing an extraordinary number of huge problems. I hope and pray that Pope Francis will be instrumental in bringing the common good to the fore facilitating attempts and bringing justice and peace to these and us all..