“The election of Pope Francis marked a change in the newspapers headlines regarding the Church,” according to Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, the secretary of the conclave that elected the new pontiff.
In a March 20 interview with CNA, Archbishop Baldisseri invited journalists “not to speculate too much” about why the cardinals chose Pope Francis, but he also maintained that “there was a need for a Pope of this kind, a shepherd able to guide and reform the Church.”
The “kindness of this Pope, who is very close to people, marked a changed in the newspaper headlines,” he underscored, adding, “his gestures will surely give a different image of the Church to the world.”
Right after the election, Jorge Mario Bergoglio put his red berretta on Lorenzo Baldisseri’s head. According to an ancient tradition, the newly elected Pope passes his berretta to the secretary of the conclave, thus indicating that he will be made a cardinal at the next consistory.
The last secretary of the conclave who inherited the berretta rossa from a new Pope was Cardinal Di Jorio, who received the red hat of John XXIII at the end of the 1958 conclave. Popes Paul VI through Benedict XVI decided not to follow the tradition, but Pope Francis returned to it.
Archbishop Baldisseri is not yet a cardinal, but he can wear the red hat.
For the time being, he no longer has to carry out his duties as secretary of the Congregation for Bishops. Instead, he will wait for the next consistory and a job that is in keeping with his new standing.
Meanwhile, Vatican analysts are poised to capture any sign that might indicate what Pope Francis will do with the high profile positions.
Whenever a new Pope is elected, the heads of all the Vatican departments offer their resignations until they are confirmed or replaced by the new pontiff.
So, right after Easter, Pope Francis will have to face some difficult choices, including the appointment of a new Vatican secretary of state.
The current secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, has been confirmed “donec aliter provideatur” (until it is differently provided), but he is 78, three years beyond the age of retirement.
According to officials who work for the Vatican Secretariat of State and who requested anonymity, the frontrunners for the new secretary are Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, who leads the administration of Vatican City State, and Cardinal Fernando Filoni, the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
But Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, who served as diplomat before taking the post as secretary of the Congregation for Bishops, is also in the running.
A secretary of a cardinal who took part to the conclave, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, speculated that Cardinal Bertello will be the final choice because he played a key role in the election of Pope Francis.
He explains that the cardinals in the Roman Curia “did not have a common line, and so Bertello worked with the uncertain cardinals, after their vote had been scattered during the previous ballots.”
The source also added that “cardinals wanted somebody able to give a fresh image to the Church.”
Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga underlined in a March 21 conversation that “now it will be easier for people to meet the Pope: his doors are always open.”
But officials within the Vatican Curia are still worried that Pope Francis’ honeymoon with the press will soon end.
An official who served in a Vatican pontifical council said on the condition of anonymity, “things will break up when the Pope will take position about in vitro fertilization or same-sex marriages.”
When Pope Francis was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he stood strongly against the “same-sex marriage” legislation that was eventually signed into Argentinean law in 2011.
On the other hand, Virginia Bonnard, an Argentinian journalist, claimed that “he simply followed the Episcopal Conference of Argentina line. He is a man of dialogue, more than a man of crusades.”