On the subject of the new Pope, Sam has this to say:
One of the protagonists of BLOOD OF THE LAMB is a fellow named Thomas Kelly, a Jesuit priest. We chose that order because Jesuits are the intellectuals of the Catholic Church. A Jesuit scholar honest with himself is forever caught in the tension between knowledge and faith. The best of them are fearless in the face of knowledge, believing any truth can be reconciled with the larger truths of theological doctrine. About doctrine they’re extremely conservative. Pope Francis can’t be expected to encourage debate on, much less support, issues like gay marriage or the ordination of women. But the order also has a strong strain of belief in and activism on social justice issues. It would be no surprise to see Francis focus on rooting out the endemic problem of child abuse; on redistributing Church wealth and pushing governments to more equitable treatment of the poor; and at the same time demanding that his now billion-strong flock swerve right, to the conservative path. Keep in mind, though, that pretty much all the Cardinals eligible for the job were conservative, having been elevated by either the last Pope or the one before him, neither of them progressives in any sense. A reformer was out of the question from the start. Although one could wish Francis’s stance were more progressive, it’s also true that if the conservative path in his definition includes social justice and humility in the tradition of St. Francis, that could set a tone the entire world could use, right now.
And let us add: from a writer’s viewpoint the tension between learning and faith makes a Jesuit a perfect character. When knowledge comes up that threatens Father Kelly’s faith, his training demands that he not turn his back on it; but he has serious trouble admitting new concepts into his world view. Until… well, you just might have to read the book.