Last night, my friend Cecilia, who is from Argentina, asked my opinion on the new Pope. I initially withheld comment, but after careful consideration, I believe this is a topic that is important to the international community at-large, and is worth addressing...especially since there are socio-economic implications tethered to his holiness.
Everything about Francis I, is different. He has foresaken the Papal residence in the Vatican for a humble apartment that resembles a barracks. He held a televised Easter service that showcased the Shroud of Turin for the first time in a very, very long time. He also opts to wear simple white garb in lieu of the traditionally ostentacious Papal vestments. I, myself am not Catholic, but there's something endearing about this man. He's very humble...a man of the people who champions the poor. His hands-on approach makes me believe that perhaps he's better suited to address global poverty than Jim Yong Kim of the World Bank. Keep in mind, that everything the new Pope has done has been in the first two months of his Papacy. The cultured, western Europeans, and even some Brazilians and Argentinians, are quick to label Americans as naive when it comes to global affairs, and even devoid of a sense of empathy as it pertains to wage/class disparities, but it's been my experience that Americans are very in-tune with the global market as well as culturally significant subject matter. The troubling statistic is that for every worldly, intelligent American, there are ten "Larry the Cable Guys" and "Kim Kardashians". It's that kind of misrepresentation that has pigeonholed our country as a mere reflection of Miami, New York, or L.A. We are greater than the sum of our parts. How does the latter half of this tie in to the new pope? Well, during the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment, Catholicism experienced a very corrupt and troubling period that sought to expunge scientific ideas from being disseminated. Those people like Newton, Galileo, and other brilliant minds, were branded heretics and in opposition to the church. If you fast-forward to Francis I, you can see a shining example of how the office of the Pope too, is more than the mere sum of its parts. I may not see eye-to-eye with the new ultra-conservative Pope on every moral issue, but I do believe him to be a truly decent man whose presence in the Vatican is a breath of fresh air for Catholics and humanists alike.