Kathryn Lopez

Rome -- "May God forgive you." That's Cardinal Timothy Dolan's translation of a joke that Pope Francis told the College of Cardinals a day after being elected the 267th pontiff.

Having watched the prayerful mien of some of the cardinals going into the papal conclave that would elect Argentinean Jorge Mario Bergoglio pope, I have reason to believe that God had something to do with Papa Francisco, as the Romans call their bishop.

Others, of course, see it otherwise.

"I don't think he's what we need right now in the Catholic Church," Madeline Cuomo, the sister of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told Crain's New York Business. "We're looking to move the church forward, with gay marriage and women priests. He's going to turn back the clock."

Her father, former governor Mario Cuomo, had this to say: "(Cardinal) Dolan would probably have been closer to where the church is at the moment."

Funny he should endorse Cardinal Dolan, despite the fact that Dolan asked the current Gov. Cuomo to step back from his insistence that abortion access expand in the United States.

The governor, for his part, takes a more positive view of what he's seen of the new pope thus far: "I think it's exciting that he's from the Americas," he said. "His life story is inspirational in many ways. Obviously, we're just learning about him, but what you hear about him, the decisions he's made, the way he's led his life, the modesty of it, the humbleness of it, I think is quite praiseworthy."

The rating system here seems a bit unhelpful.

Forget being the leader -- as a member of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis believes the Word of God and lives it in more than an obligatory or agenda-driven way. The Gospel and the Sacraments are his mission and mandate. We best welcome him to the international scene, and into our lives, as a teacher, pastor and father.

When I stood in St. Peter's Square watching the white smoke and waiting for the Habemus Papam, I observed that the pilgrims gathered didn't desire to see a favored candidate so much as they wanted a Holy Father. The new pope leading the crowd in prayer was a spectacle of quiet devotion, a reminder of the inner life that undergirds society.


Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.