Quite a lot, I think. While Shakespeare was correct when he said that a rose would smell as sweet by any other name, the word, itself, evokes impressions of beauty, delicacy and fragrant odor. Try saying the word rose to someone and they are likely to smile and even inhale as though to smell it. Say the word garbage and they will draw back slightly and even wrinkle their nose.
When I heard that the new pontif's name was Francis, my immediate thought was of a gentle, loving man, who championed the poor and who preached his beliefs through his actions as well as his words. More words came out: Jesuit (social justice, education, progressive, bucking the system), the first (going where no one has gone before, change) and humble (not impressed with your own level of importance).
And the dogmaic, hide-bound College of Cardinals elected a man like this to be Pope? I'm surprised that St. Peter's didn't rock on it's foundation. Is it possible that the Catholic church is willing to change? In a positive direction? Even a little?
I thought, "this is a good sign" and then I thought "do these words really reflect Jorge Bergoglia's true nature?" There are several types of flowers that are beautiful but smell like rotting meat (pollinated by flies) or have no scent (pollinated by bats). If you aren't familiar with their true nature it is quite a shock to stoop to one and expect a beautiful fragrance and recieve a repellent one or nothing.
When I heard that he refused to live in the Arch-bishops palace in Argentina, electing, instead, to live in a small apartment, cook his own meals and take the bus to work, I thought "Wow, a man who lives according to the beliefs of his faith regardless of his place in the hierarchy. A priest who embodies what Jesus stood for rather than the CEO of a major corporation."
I find the election of the new pontif a hopeful sign. But time will tell if he and his supporters can keep the old guard from torpedoing any change. I hope that he surrounds himself with like-minded men to help him navigate through the murky waters of the Vatican. Men who embody the true values of the church but can hold their own against the sharks that are just out for what power and resources that they can get for themselves.
There are many that fled the fold because it seemed that the wolf was masquerading as the shepard. Can Pope Francis gather in the lost sheep? We're lurking around the edges of the field waiting for a sign that it's safe to come out.