The Catholic Church has seen some astonishing developments in recent weeks.
Last month Pope Benedict became the first pope to retire in 600 years. Now his successor is the first pope from Latin America, the first Jesuit to be elected to the papacy and the first pope to take the name Francis. In his first address as pope he asked |people to pray for him, and he will need those prayers.
The Church is facing dwindling congregations. One of Pope Francis’ major tasks is to make the Church more relevant. While he is conservative on issues such as abortion or gay marriage, he is a man of humility and a supporter of social justice, two virtues of immense value to a Church seeking to restore some of its moral authority. He will also need to reform or rejuvenate the Vatican itself.