Pope Francis: Media reaction to the first Latin American pontiff

Pope Francis leaves the Basilica in Rome The world's media believe Pope Francis has much work to do to solve the problems plaguing the Catholic Church

The election of Pope Francis marked a number of firsts for the Catholic Church - the first Latin American pontiff, the first Jesuit and the first Pope to name himself Francis.

His first day as head of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics is a busy one, with the appointment of his senior Vatican staff, preparations for his first Mass and a likely visit to his predecessor Benedict, Pope Emeritus, all planned.

The Argentine and former Bishop of Buenos Aires is also faced with a raft of challenges ahead. The Church is dogged by scandal over its handling of clerical sex abuse, corruption and alleged infighting.

The following is a selection of how the world and UK media have digested the papal appointment.

World media

The fact that "the shoes of the fisherman will now be worn by a Latin American heralds not just a new stage for the Catholic Church", but also "a realignment within the world of this region" where over 40% of all Catholics says Carolina Barros in the Buenos Aires Herald.

Bergoglio is the first Latin American pope in the 520 years since Americas were first evangelised. "He also stands out as a Jesuit from the Americas, from where a 1767 royal decree expelled his order from all Spanish crown lands, rewriting history." But, Carolina Barros adds, the political and spiritual worlds will be realigned too. Pope Francis could assist change in Latin America - notably the "painstaking process of opening up" in Cuba and countering "the social ravages of advancing drug-trafficking" in central America.

Chile's representative at the conclave, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz agrees that the conclave's decision is significant for Latin America, says a leader article in the Santiago Times.

"Bergoglio's stance against gay marriage, however, predictably earned him the ire" of gay rights groups in in Chile, the paper says. The Movement for Homosexual Liberation and Integration (Movilh), which promised to protest against any papal visit to the country said in a statement: "Once more the Church chooses as the head of the Vatican a promoter of hate toward social diversity and a model of homophobia and disdain for sexual minorities."

A USA Today editorial says the Church sorely needs rebuilding, "particularly in the United States and Europe, where tens of thousands of children have been sexually abused by priests while church leaders stood by, enabling the crimes and in some cases covering them up".

If Pope Francis wants the world to know that such acts will no longer be tolerated, he has the means, says USA Today: "The pontiff can remove those responsible and set rules to ensure that there is no repeat. The Vatican's banking and other scandals are of a different magnitude, but the principle is the same: The Church cannot restore its stature while coddling wrongdoers."

Having a pope who is deeply committed to "tirelessly promoting justice and peace" is an absolute necessity in many parts of the world where "war has become the norm, and where even nuclear war is not only thinkable but a real possibility", says South Africa's Southern Cross said in an editorial.

Pope Francis, according to the paper, also faces a host of "serious threats to human life and dignity". In response to "cold-hearted indifference" experienced by the "poor, hungry, homeless, jobless, medically uninsured, undocumented, and on death row, our new pope needs to ceaselessly and courageously stand up and proclaim 'No!' to all of this cruel injustice".

UK media

It's a shame that Cardinal Bergoglio never had the opportunity to mingle incognito in the bars of modern Dublin, where he would have found intense hatred for the Catholic Church says Damian Thompson, in The Telegraph blogs. "Young Irish people especially can hardly mention the Church without a curl of the lip. Older folk, meanwhile, feel miserably betrayed."

"I know this is a downbeat response to what, for Catholics, is a joyful and hopeful event. But savage reform to the curia is required so that Pope Francis can (should he wish) take advantage of the successful Benedictine reforms," Thompson says.

Cristina Odone, in Daily Mirror opinion, says the new Pope's Jesuit order is famed for its rigour. "But in minutes last night he had cracked a joke. He told the 100,000-strong crowd: 'You must be wondering why, to find the Bishop of Rome, the cardinals had to go to the ends of the Earth.' This was real warmth. What better way to celebrate a fresh start?"

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