Watching the elevation of an Argentine cardinal to the papacy of the Roman Catholic Church, we were reminded that the word “catholic” means “universal.” The Catholic Church is, indeed, a global institution, and as the first pope to hail from Latin America, Pope Francis promises to affirm the church’s broad reach beyond Europe. Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, is the first non-European pope in more than a thousand years.

Francis has his work cut out for him. The church has been rocked by scandals involving the sexual abuse of children by some priests — and subsequent attempts by church leaders to cover up that abuse.

The new pope’s challenges are of special interest in heavily Catholic south Louisiana.

We know that many local Catholics will be watching the new pope, and praying for his success. But even beyond the ranks of Catholics, popes are regarded as world leaders.

Francis has newfound influence to do good in the world. We hope he meets that promise.