Others will also recall it now, but I am grateful to Mark Chater, director of Culham St Gabriel's Trust in Oxford, for reminding me of one of the most significant sayings said to have been received from Christ by St Francis of Assisi: "Francis, go repair my house which, as you see, is falling completely to ruin."
The election of Argentinian Cardinal-Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ, to be Pope Francis I is historic in four senses. The new pontiff is the first non-European to be Bishop of Rome for a millennium, the first Jesuit, the first from Latin America, and the first with deep origins in the industrial working class.
I have often been critical of the Church of England’s leadership for being slow to speak out on issues of economic justice. I’m therefore delighted that 43 CofE bishops have criticised the coalition for cutting benefits (or technically, for raising them by one percent, which is below the rate of inflation and therefore a cut in all but name).
As black smoke continued to rise above the Sistine Chapel earlier today, and as speculation bubbled in inverse proportion to the amount of information coming out of the Vatican about the papal conclave (that is, given the secrecy surrounding it, virtually none), journalists were faced with the task of finding something to do to 'keep the story alive'.