SABC News - New Pope greeted with mixed feelings :Thursday 14 March 2013

New Pope greeted with mixed feelings

Thursday 14 March 2013 17:00

SABC

Newly elected Pope Francis is the first Jesuit to be Pope.

Newly elected Pope Francis is the first Jesuit to be Pope.(REUTERS)

The Jesuit Institute of South Africa says it's delighted with the election of Pope Francis as the new head of the Catholic Church.  

The 76-year-old Argentine cleric is the first Jesuit to be Pope.

The Jesuits are a prominent religious order within the church, and have about 18 000 members world-wide

“I think what’s important for me is that we have the best man for the job. It sounds as though the cardinals have been very clear in voting Francis the 1st in as our next Pope, that he is the best man for the job someone who will bring about healing and reconciliation within the church and beyond," says Regional Superior of the Jesuits in South Africa, Father David Smolira.

"(Pope Francis is) someone who can really connect with people who's got a real pastoral feel and a pastoral concern for people, so I’m very encouraged,” he adds.

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) however says it does not expect any changes on how the Roman Catholic Church deals with issues related to the empowerment of women, HIV and contraception, following the election of a new Pope.

TAC has always been critical of the church for its stance on contraception, as it still prohibits the use of condoms.

In recent weeks, Durban-based Cardinal Wilfred Napier has said he will not allow the distribution of condoms at any Catholic school as part of government's efforts to curb teenage pregnancy, and the newly-elected Popeis said to be very conservative on issues of abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage.

“The TAC does not expect anything earth-shattering from the new Pope, we always know that Catholics and the leaders at the helm will always be conservative on the issues especially around women and women being able to make their own choices," says the TAC's Nonkosi Khumalo. "We hope though that his appointment will take a different route from the old ones that we know.  We hope that they will start seeing things for what they are in responding to issues of HIV and also issues affecting women and how they make their own reproductive health choices.”

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