The choice of the name, Francis, by the new Pope, is a stroke of genius. St Francis of Assisi is perennially the Catholic Church's most popular saint. To use the dreadful terminology of our time, St Francis is one of the most positive brands within the vast treasury of the Catholic Church.
This choice, which no doubt also reflects the Pope's spirituality, is a sign that the new man on St Peter's throne may have something of that genius for communications - or more crudely, public relations instinct - which so characterised Pope John Paul II, was so absent in the retired Benedict XVI, and is so essential in a modern pope. As Australia's Cardinal George Pell points out, the new Pope is a formidable man.
Argentina is a tough school. The Pope has done well there.
The main, indeed the only serious, reason people thought he was not a front-tier candidate before the election is his age. At 76 he is nearly the age at which Benedict became pope, only to feel he had to resign in his mid-80s.
Francis is going to be a central figure in global cultural dialogue, in the West, in Latin America, really in all parts of the world.
His election, so unpredicted, has wrong-footed the Western commentariat. This is even more the case because in many ways he defies simple labels. Is he radical, liberal or conservative, left-wing or right-wing, democratic or authoritarian, collegial or centralist? These labels have little application in this papal election. In any event, Francis is a complex man.
Certainly, he is doctrinally orthodox. He believes in the physical resurrection of Christ, the inerrancy of scripture, the promise of eternal life. These are his central beliefs. Almost his first official statement was to point out that without a spiritual rebirth, the church is in danger of becoming just another charity. This point is important even to non-Catholics, because it will colour everything else he says and does.
Second, the Pope is socially conservative, or perhaps more correctly, morally conservative. A pope from the global south, from the developing world, was always going to be a huge disappointment to Western liberals. Catholicism in the global south is much more conservative than in the secular West.
The new Pope's position on contentious issues is the same as previous popes, but he expresses these views with what would be regarded as shocking political incorrectness in the West. For example, he describes abortion as "equivalent to a death sentence". Gay marriage, he says, is "destructive of God's plan".
In many senses the Pope wants to put the church at the service of society, but one part of that service is to point out to society, at times rather trenchantly, where it has gone wrong.
But another dimension of the Pope's identity is his passionate advocacy of the poor. Latin America is the demographic heart of the Catholic Church. It is also a continent with many millions of very poor people. Francis regards extreme poverty as a violation of human rights. Yet he is a strong opponent of the now nearly dead liberation theology movement. His own example is salutary. Despite being archbishop of Buenos Aires, he lived humbly and spent much of his own time with the poor.
In Francis, the cardinals have elected a pope who truly has "mud on his boots". But to describe Francis as a social justice pope may be something of a misnomer. Enormous amounts of fatuous nonsense, and some downright nastiness, has been promulgated by Catholic peace and justice bureaucracies in the West, so many of which were, for a time at least, captured by the political Left.