It’s my Opinion

IT looks rather like Jorge Mario Bergoglio is going to a great deal different than those who have gone before him in high office. But Pope Francis - as he will better known - at least seems to have a sense of humour, if reports from the Vatican are to be believed.

After being appointed the new Pope gave a dinner for those who had elected him, giving a short speech in which he said: “May God forgive you for what you have done.”

A good start, though nobody will be fooled by the serious, mammoth task he faces in his bid to put right the many issues of a stuttering Roman Catholic Church, battered by recent scandals, not least here in Scotland.

The fear of many commentators, and I’m to modest to describe myself as one of them, is that in the palaver of making the new boy look like a radical, no inroads will be made to basic issues, not least facing up to contraception, allowing priests to marry, and clearing the way for justice to be seen to be done to those children abused and then forgotten by the church.

Of course, Pope Francis cannot be expected to turn it all around in his reign, which I fear will be too short, given his age, though I do hope he will step up to the mark with statements of intent, benefitting all denominations, or indeed those of no religious persuasion.

For make no mistake, the papacy plays a key role in world affairs. We would do well to listen to his pronouncements, but give him time, even if the 76 year old does not have much of it to make his mark.

The appointment of a non-European Pope is significant, but once again the church cannot afford to adopt a self-congratulating stance, saying: “Didn’t we do well.”

We need - nay the watching world demands - action, not just words from a man who looks like he has the will, the ability, the humility and above all the compassion to deliver a package of meaningful love, concern and a new direction for a church which I dare to suggest has lost its way.

A dose of more dogma would not be useful, of helpful to his cause, something I suspect the new boy knows.

I just hope Pope Francis still gets time to follow the fortunes of his favourite football team, which is San Lorenzo who if I recall were the first Argentine side to win the double, in 1972.

Talking of the beautiful game, some of you have impolitely challenged my credentials to speak about the ills of the game. In particular my observations on the irrational, unsporting behaviour of Sir Alex Ferguson have not gone down well with some of you.

Sorry, but I stand by my comments, based on being a student of the game since the 1950’s, attending three European finals, including ‘the’ final of 1960 when Real Madrid turned in performance still shown us the ultimate game, being in almost every big ground in Scotland and England, including Old Trafford where I respectfully suggest most of the Fergie fans have never set foot.

But not one to hold grudges, I welcome the more thoughtful of you who like to take me on to continue the debate.