Back in 2005, Bergoglio drew high marks as an accomplished intellectual, having studied theology in Germany. His leading role during the Argentine economic crisis burnished his reputation as a voice of conscience, and made him a potent symbol of the costs globalization can impose on the world's poor.
Bergoglio's reputation for personal simplicity also exercised an undeniable appeal a Prince of the Church who chose to live in a simple apartment rather than the archbishop's palace, who gave up his chauffeured limousine in favor of taking the bus to work, and who cooked his own meals.
Now, earlier today, he announced that he intended to have all the gold in the Vatican melted down and distributed among poor heterosexual women in the Church who have heterosexual children and have never had abortions.
Some expressed concern that the Vatican, without its gold, is like Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" in black and white. "Is there a single material item in the Vatican that is not forged out of gold?" asked one dumbfounded worshipper? And ask another: "Where will all the poor people's donations to the Church go if not toward gold and sexual predation lawsuits?"