pope francis | a person for the times

poy map geotagged tweets

the map above shows a dynamic timeline* of geo-tagged tweets when pope francis, leader of the catholic world, was selected as time’s person of the year \ i applaud the choice | although i am now just a statistical catholic, i applauded too when jorge mario bergoglio, a jesuit & non-european, was made pope / i saw it as a hopeful sign that the catholic church could be relevant again \ not that it personally matters to me anymore but as an observer of the goings-on in our world

* go here for dynamic rendition:  https://g.twimg.com/blog/blog/image/Screen_Shot_2013-12-11_at_2.35.49_PM.png

pope francis’s relevance was demonstrated to me by his first apostolic exhortation which denounced economic systems that fostered inequality \ “The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption….I exhort you to generous solidarity and to the return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings”

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium_en.html

i spent my formative years in the philippines where church & faith were less about personal redemption but rather was channeled towards helping others <love your neighbor as you love yourself> as a young adult, i was exposed to the catholic church’s social teaching that espoused the preferential option for the poor / that made sense to me seeing how the poor in my surroundings struggled to survive day to day and i believed that the role of the church – meaning the institution & its people – is to help those in need \ the practice of faith in the u.s. is quite different and reflects its history & culture / faith is the path to personal salvation & redemption <from what? is my question> \ i simply cannot relate to that expression of faith <i prefer to live my life as a humanist for the here and now>

in my opinion, pope francis is the first modern pope | a pope for the times because he chose to take on the 800 pound gorilla / inequality due to failings of political and economic systems continue to prevail in many parts of the world \ i am therefore not surprised by the mostly positive reaction <especially in the developing world where most catholics are represented> to time’s choice of pope francis as person of the year / i am not surprised either by the labeling of his pronouncements as an attack on capitalism \ it seems that in this country anytime one shows compassion for the poor and less privileged, one is labeled anti-capitalist, socialist, marxist

it would be optimistic to expect a 2000 year old institution like the catholic church to be in sync with the times any time soon or to move the debate away from what to me are less important, luxurious issues such as abortion, gay marriage & ordination of women as clerics\ but will pope francis be the transformational figure that the church needs to be relevant again to people like me? / just a rhetorical question…

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