Lawyers give seal of approval to Pope Francis

Lawyers are already reacting favourably to the news that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio has been named Pope.

Bergoglio, who will take the name Pope Francis, was chosen by cardinals of the Roman Catholic church yesterday to be the 266th pontiff. Francis, who is from Argentina, is the first Pope to come from the Jesuit order and is the first non-European to be elected for nearly 1,300 years, according to reports. The church had been seeking a new head since 28 February, when incumbent Pope Benedict XVI resigned his position.

Speaking about the appointment, Peter Smith a barrister working at a commercial law firm in London, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that the church has reached out to a leader from Latin America. South America is a fast-growing region in terms of political and economic power and, with the World Cup and Olympics coming to Brazil in the next few years, as well as the Catholic World Youth Day, culturally too. Pope Francis will be a great representative of that continent, I am sure. He will also bring a practical knowledge and intellectual concern with social justice and the ‘preferential option’ for the poor.”

Meanwhile, Thomas Chacko, a barrister at Pump Court Tax Chambers, believes that the new Pope’s experience with poverty could lead to greater emphasis on financial reform.

“While Benedict was very concerned about the inequitable way the international economic system often works, I think Francis, having more experience of being on the wrong end of international financial power, may come to this with a greater sense of urgency,” said Chacko.

“His observation that the poor who object to being made poorer and thrown out of work are criticised as unrealistic while the very rich, who can move from country to country free of the consequences of economic disaster, remain respectable even when it was their decisions that led there, suggests that he is going to attack the self-justifying explanations given for not reforming. So we may see more concrete proposals made for how the international financial system could be reformed, how tax on international profits could be spread more fairly between developing and developed nations, and how to get the international elite to come back down to earth.”

Another legal personality that may well take an active interest in the new Pope is Mr Justice Tugendhat, who is a member of the St Thomas More Society in London.