The view from Argentina: A surprise choice, even for us

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No one expected an Argentinian Pope. Not even we Argentinians, writes Juan Diego Brodersen, News Editor, Yahoo! Argentina

At the last election for Pope Benedict in 2005 there were rumours Jorge Mario Bergoglio might be in the running. But not this time.

Back home in Argentina, he is known because of his austere tastes, for being a Jesuit and occupying the position of bishop and cardinal of Argentina.

He was born in Buenos Aires, the Argentine capital, in 1936, being the son of two Italians, Mario and Regina. He began his service in the church at the age of 21 and is a professor of theology.

He is a cultured man who is a fan of the Russian writer Dostoyevsky and, of course, the Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges.

He is known to live simply even though he is a cardinal and lives in a simple flat in the second floor of the Curia building of Buenos Aires Cathedral.
Last year, on the controversial subject of gay marriage he spoke out against it calling it a 'God war'.

So, in 2005 although a strong candidate it was not his time but eight years later. Nobody expected a Latin American Pope, and even less, an Argentinian one. He is now in the spotlight over how he deals with the challenges facing the Catholic church and its 1.2billion followers.

The reaction from the media in Argentina has, after the initial surprise, focused on his tense relationship with President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

La Nación, a conservative newspaper, was the first one to do this and went with the headline: “The new Pope and the Kirchner’s: a tense relationship”.

Clarín, a more moderate newspaper but also opposed to the Government, had exactly the same story (with a similar headline).

On forums and in the comments beneath articles users argued whether the world would now have a conservative Pope or if he’s going to be able to make changes to the Church.

But overall the one area drawing the most comment was the subject of his relationship with the President which can be summed up by this question: Would Cristina Fernández de Kirchner ever kiss the Pope’s ring?

Meanwhile, in social media, especially Twitter, all manner of topics have been trending globally. Ranging from #LosArgentinosDominamosElMundo (Argentines dominate the world) to #Bergoglio #LaBarraDelPapa (The fans of the Pope) and #OrgulloArgentino (Argentinean pride).

And, naturally, the national passion for football also came into play.

The new Pope has always been a San Lorenzo fan, a team from a typical neighbourhood in Buenos Aires, Boedo.

Up to now, the team could proudly show a picture of him on their t-shirt saying 'The Cardinal'. Now one could say they have moved up a 'spiritual league' with their famous supporter and can proudly write 'The Pope'.

It's also worth remembering that San Lorenzo fans are know as, yes you guessed it, 'The Saints'.

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