I observe from all over the world an extraordinary upsurge of optimism about the Church in its present (admittedly tricky) situation; several people, including one very senior religious sister, have said to me, by e-mail or telephone or in conversation, that they are feeling better about the Church than they have done for years. This is a very good indicator of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Anyone who tries to predict what shape Francis’ papacy is going to take is bound (like all those who so confidently predicted the outcome of the conclave) to end up looking stupid, so I am not going to do that.
The best thing about the present moment is that it does not feel like a victory for this party or that; instead it has the fresh and joyful unexpectedness that is the sign that the Holy Spirit has been at work. Let me conclude, therefore, by simply asking for the prayers of all readers, not just Catholic, nor just Christian, for the new adventure on which we are beginning. And even if you think that you may be atheist, I would still ask that you spare a thought for Francis I. We live in a world that is very closely linked, and the Bishop of Rome can influence that world very much for the better, if he will listen to the voice of God and to the voice of the poor. This is a very happy day for us all.