The people of Assisi had more reason than most to be pleased with the cardinals’ choice, as the new pope has taken the name of their beloved patron saint. The pontiff has not yet confirmed whether he was inspired by Francis of Assisi or St Francis Xavier, one of the first Jesuits, but it did not diminish the enthusiasm some in Assisi felt.
One man in the centre of town said: “As a resident of Assisi I immediately thought of St Francis. For me it is a beautiful thing.”
An Argentinian replacing a German seemed to make little difference in the German city of Cologne, though some may have prefered a younger man.
One woman said: “If he’s good for us, why not? He also spoke well
yesterday evening. We followed it on television. It wasn’t bad.”
“Expectations are high, but I doubt whether he can fulfil them at his
age”, commented one man.
While the reaction has been largely positive among Catholics worldwide there are corners of doubt. Some Spanish language media highlighted what they saw as a lack of criticism of Argentina’s former military rulers and Francis’ apparent tough stance against gay marriage.