This morning’s inauguration of Pope Francis completes an astonishing week in which the prospects for the Catholic church no longer look quite so bleak. Perhaps the continuing spate of sex abuse scandals within its ranks have impressed upon its leaders the need to strip away some of the rottenness and baggage that have accumulated over the centuries, and to get back to the core of what serving Christ is about. Certainly that appears to be the driving vision of Francis, both in what he says and how he acts.
As Cardinal, he left the Bishop’s Palace in Buenos Aires to cook for himself in a small apartment; as newly elected Pope he was insistent upon paying his own hotel bill in Rome; there is therefore an integrity and simplicity to the Pope’s style that can only come from the manner in which he has lived his life. We must pray – Protestants and Catholics alike (even Pentecostal Anglicans!) – that this bright start is the beginning of a genuine, deep transformation that can only be good for the worldwide church, of whatever denomination.