Pope Francis, the Choice

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With a focus on compassion, the leader of the Catholic Church has become a new voice of conscience. Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs explains why Francis is TIME's choice for Person of the Year 2013

On the edge of Buenos Aires is a nothing little street called Pasaje C, a shot of dried mud leading into a slum from what passes for a main road, the garbage-strewn Mariano Acosta. There is a church, the Immaculate Virgin, toward the end of the ­pasaje—Spanish for passage—where, on one occasion, the local priest and a number of frightened residents took refuge deep in the sanctuary when rival drug gangs opened fire. Beyond the church, Pasaje C branches into the rest of the parish: more rutted mud and cracked concrete form Pasajes A to K. Brick chips from the hasty construction of squatter housing coagulate along what ought to be sidewalks. The word asesino—­murderer—is scrawled in spray-paint on the sooty wall of a burned-out house, which was torched just days before in retaliation for yet another shooting. Packs of dogs sprawl beneath wrecked cars. Children wander heedless of traffic, because nothing can gather speed on these jagged roads. But even Pasaje C can lead to Rome.

As Cardinal and Archbishop of Buenos Aires, a metropolis of some 13.5 million souls, Jorge Mario Bergoglio made room in his schedule every year for a pastoral visit to this place of squalor and sorrow.­ He would walk to the subway station nearest to the Metropolitan Cathedral, whose pillars and dome fit easily into the center of Argentine power. Traveling alone, he would transfer onto a graffiti-blasted tram to Mariano Acosta, reaching where the subways do not go. He finished the journey on foot, moving heavily in his bulky black orthopedic shoes along Pasaje C. On other days, there were other journeys to barrios throughout the city—so many in need of so much, but none too poor or too filthy for a visit from this itinerant prince of the church. Reza por mí, he asked almost everyone he met. Pray for me.

Written By: Howard Chua-Eoan and Elizabeth Dias
continue to source article at poy.time.com

29 COMMENTS

  1. As Cardinal and Archbishop of Buenos Aires, a metropolis of some 13.5 million souls, Jorge Mario Bergoglio made room in his schedule every year for a pastoral visit to this place of squalor and sorrow.­

    He would walk to the subway station nearest to the Metropolitan Cathedral, whose pillars and dome fit easily into the center of Argentine power.

    That sounds like very RC. culture:- Poverty and squalor with rather splendid cathedrals!

    @OP – With a focus on compassion, the leader of the Catholic Church has become a new voice of conscience.
    Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs explains why Francis is TIME’s choice for Person of the Year 2013

    She is a former elder and deacon of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City.

    No biased vision through theist blinkers then????
    I would have thought Peter Higgs was the goddamned person of the year, but maybe I’m biased.

  2. This was predictable enough really. None of these articles will look beyond the humble man, and see the best cynical PR coup and rebranding success of the 21st century …… or possibly any century.

  3. I have the ear phones on listening to a victim give evidence to the Royal Commission in OZ. I now need to say ‘Catholic Church’ I sincerely hate you bastards and hope you die a quick but painful death!

  4. He may well be a good and caring man, but he needs to take a long, hard look at the policies of his church. Why is it that poverty is rife in countries that have majority Catholic populations? I’m thinking of places like The Philippines and many South American countries. Perhaps the population of Buenos Aires wouldn’t be so high and impoverished if not for the RCC’s hardline policy on contraception.

  5. In reply to #1 by Tahoe Blue:

    Check out their choice for 1938

    Which was a German politician named Adolf Hitler. But in all fairness to TIME, they did not describe him in anything but highly negative terms, and their “award” is not for Good, or Bad, or anything else “Person of the Year,” just whoever they think had the greatest impact on affairs, good, or bad. Within that frame of reference, Hitler may not have been a bad choice, and does not imply for a moment that TIME thought him anything other than the evil despot he was.

    Bear in mind, that until Pearl Harbour, there was a strongly anti semitic and pro Nazi movement in the United States. This bloc strongly criticised TIME for its negative portrayal of Hitler.

  6. Let’s give him a break and see what he’s going to do tomorrow and the day after that. So far, he has been very respectful of non-believers. And he has been concentrating about issues of social justice and helping the poor, good stuff. And contrarily to his predecessor, he has been ignoring theological babble while concentrating on practical issues. If he liberalizes Catholicism, that can surely not be bad.

    • In reply to #10 by Fouad Boussetta:

      If he liberalizes Catholicism, that can surely not be bad.

      “None of which makes him a liberal—he also says the all-male priesthood is not subject to debate, nor is abortion, nor is the definition of marriage.

      He doesn’t have that choice or that decision to make. His hands are tied by dogma and doctrines and by the bishops and the bible as being the inerrant word of his god. He is never likely to declare that priests and nuns will never again have to take a vow of celibacy, or that The Church will now allow female priests, or that Catholics can now use unlimited methods of contraception or obtain abortions on demand, or that homosexuals are free to practice their homosexuality, whatever the laws of society say.

      He can make small comments of his own to perhaps indicate that he is slightly human, but he is still a slave to the Church and will abide by all that they practice and preach.

      No he will not liberalize Catholicism.

      • In reply to #11 by ArloNo:

        He is never likely to declare that priests and nuns will never again have to take a vow of celibacy, or that The Church will now allow female priests, or that Catholics can now use unlimited methods of contraception or obtain abortions on demand, or that homosexuals are free to practice their homosexuality, whatever the laws of society say.

        I don’t see that contraception is that difficult for him to approve. The Church already approves trying to avoid conceiving for married Catholics. The only real argument is about the method. I can see anything that could be regarded as an abortifacient as more difficult but barrier methods like condoms would be easy. The next easiest thing would be women in some non-priestly role and non-celibate priests and nuns. It is already possible to be a married priest if you have brought your wife with you from the Anglican Church. There is not a lot of opposition to homosexuality in the Bible and you could arguer it away a result of the times that bit was written and not relevant now or as a ban on heterosexual men have sex with other men.

        He’s a Jesuit. They’ve been twisting the truth for centuries (see 2. below). He could sort all the above. He might want to start cooking all his own meals though.

        Jes·u·it·i·cal [jezh-oo-it-i-kuhl, jez-oo-, jez-yoo-]
        adjective

        1. of or pertaining to Jesuits or Jesuitism.

        2. ( often lowercase ) practicing casuistry or equivocation; using subtle or oversubtle reasoning; crafty; sly; intriguing.

        Michael

      • Catholic do not believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God.

        Catholics fully accept evolution and teach it in their schools – often by Jesuit priests.

        In reply to #11 by ArloNo:

        In reply to #10 by Fouad Boussetta:

        If he liberalizes Catholicism, that can surely not be bad.

        “None of which makes him a liberal—he also says the all-male priesthood is not subject to debate, nor is abortion, nor is the definition of marriage.”

        He doesn’t have that choice or that decision to mak…

        • In reply to #23 by Sara:

          Catholic do not believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God.

          Catholics fully accept evolution and teach it in their schools – often by Jesuit priests.

          Fully ? I though they believed it was guided by God. That’s not part of the standard scientific view of evolution.

          Michael

          • In reply to #24 by mmurray:
            >

            . #23 by Sara: Catholics fully accept evolution and teach it in their schools – often by Jesuit priests.

            Fully ? I though they believed it was guided by God. That’s not part of the standard scientific view of evolution.

            Not only is it not part of the theory, but it asserts the dishonest, anti-scientific, “true lies”, of the “RCC truly scientific manner”, for “true-believers”, to filter their evidence based scientific rational conclusions, through the evidence-free dogmatic preconceptions, of “faith-blinker” spectacles, which can see no contradictions.

            Catholic teaching and evolution

            1. Faith and science: “… methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are.” (Vatican II GS 36:1)

            The assertion that evidence produced by (“true”???) scientific methodology cannot conflict with faith-dogma is simply a lie! – It is the usual double-talk of asserted “true lies” to fudge around self-contradictions and scientific refutations!

          • In reply to #24 by mmurray:

            In reply to #23 by Sara:

            Catholic do not believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God.

            Catholics fully accept evolution and teach it in their schools – often by Jesuit priests.

            Fully ? I though they believed it was guided by God. That’s not part of the standard scientific view of evolutio…

            I am a bit unclear on what “theistic evolution” actually says…if it states that species evolve, but the whole mechanism needs to be guided by an intelligence in order for that to happen, otherwise evolution doesn’t work, then clearly it is incorrect…as far as we know, the basic natural laws are enough for evolution to take place. On the other hand, if they merely say that natural laws are enough for evolution to happen, but, on top of that, they believe a deity set up the conditions just so he would get, out of all the possible paths evolution could take, the exact results he wanted (for example…the deity just didn’t want humans to evolve into having wings, so he set up the conditions in order to avoid that outcome), then it sounds more like an “interpretation” than anything else…it doesn’t actually change or invalidate anything about the actual theory, it just adds some extra assumptions the theists want to believe, and since it doesn’t add or remove anything from the scientific theory, they just go with it.

          • In reply to #27 by JoxerTheMighty:

            I am a bit unclear on what “theistic evolution” actually says…if it states that species evolve, but the whole mechanism needs to be guided by an intelligence in order for that to happen, otherwise evolution doesn’t work, then clearly it is incorrect…as far as we know, the basic natural laws are enough for evolution to take place.

            They try to pretend that there is no conflict between the scientific laws and, “god fiddled with it in unspecified vague places to create man in his image”! The versions vary according to who is telling them!

            Theistic evolution – From Wikipedia

            Theistic evolution, theistic evolutionism or evolutionary creationism is the view that religious teachings about God are compatible with modern scientific understanding about biological evolution. Theistic evolution is not a scientific theory, but a range of views about how the science of evolution relates to religious beliefs. Supporters of theistic evolution generally reject the conflict thesis regarding the relationship between religion and science – that is, they hold that religious teachings about creation and scientific theories of evolution need not contradict each other.

            According to Eugenie Scott: “In one form or another, Theistic Evolutionism is the view of creation taught at the majority of mainline Protestant seminaries, and it is the official position of the Catholic church”

            Theistic evolutionism has been described as a form of compatibilism, and as such it is viewed with disdain both by some atheists and creationists.

            The (RCC) Church’s stance is that any such gradual appearance must have been guided in some way by God, but the Church has thus far declined to define in what way that may be. Commentators tend to interpret the Church’s position in the way most favorable to their own arguments.

  7. There is one important thing he doesn’t do. He has set up a church commission on child abuse. That is wrong. Child abuse is a crime. If one suspects or knows of a crime one is obligated to call the cops. They are equipped to deal with such matters. Until he brings himself to tell those under him that they should notify the civil authorities if they know of or suspect a crime the potential for coverup continues. As far as I am concerned he still puts his organisation outside of the reach of law.

  8. If the esteemed Francis hates poverty so much, shouldn’t he tell his devout, poverty-stricken followers that they should not have children if they cannot afford to? I fail to see what’s so wrong with contraception, it can only make life better for the people.

  9. I must say this pope is nice man, very tollerant and inclusive and very vocal about the plight of the poor.

    as leaders of international criminal gangs go he’s definitely one of the best and every time he says something nice and fluffy I forget all about the institutionalised child rape, imprisonment and trafficing his staff work so tirelessly to cover up

    well done vatican, once again you pull off a coup

  10. One might think that being the head of an organization that systematically demonized homosexuals, discriminates against women, interferes with women’s health, and actively harbors child rapists would be disqualified, but it turns out that such a person is given a tremendous amount of credit due to the fact that he is superficially, not as bad as his predecessors.

  11. I find this guy intriguing. He is certainly talking the talk, although I remain slightly sceptical of the stories of him walking the walk (which have the whiff of the PR machine swinging into action to bolster the words). Time will tell. I don’t think it’s fair to criticise him for failing to turn around the RCC in the limited time he’s been in the job. I suspect there may be a battle between conservatives and progressives within the church and, pope or not, it will take time to make significant change – like the metaphorical U-turn of an oil tanker. For now, I’m happy that he’s tempered the message in many respects. I deem that a good thing, even if it is ultimately all a cynical ploy on the part of the church to reposition itself.

  12. I have not read whole article because is to long :). But I liked this reminder on year 1938 from some members of this forum. What surprised me is that some fellow atheist on this forum state that pope is a quite nice guy; words like “good and caring man”, “helping the poor”, “nice”, “tolerant”,… . DIRECTOR OF AN INHUMANE ORGANIZATION CAN NOT BE THOSE THINGS!!! SORRY, BUT HIS VOCATION DISQUALIFIED HIM OF BEING “A NICE GUY”. THERE IS NOTHING NICE IN HIM OR IN HIS ORGANIZATION!! HE IS EVIL AND A BRUT BY DEFINITION!

    I wonder if some people here are really atheists. :)

    • In reply to #20 by Modesti:

      I have not read whole article because is to long :). But I liked this reminder on year 1938 from some members of this forum. What surprised me is that some fellow atheist on this forum state that pope is a quite nice guy; words like “good and caring man”, “helping the poor”, “nice”, “tolerant”,… ….

      i used these terms being sarcastic but I don’t think there was anything in my atheist membership pack that told me what opions I was supposed to have on individuals based on their association. For all I know the pope could be a nice man, might just be so deep in his delusion he fails to spot the unjust behaviour, he may be a stooge, or indeed he may be a champion for humanism embarking on a particularly long game to bring down the church.

      probably not but the fact is regardless of which organisation he is in charge of, i’ll leave words like “evil” to those who find it easier to seperate people into one of two categories than I.

      Judge on actions, not assumptions

      THERE IS NOTHING NICE IN HIM OR IN HIS ORGANIZATION!! HE IS EVIL AND A BRUT BY DEFINITION!

      chamagne or aftershave?

      I wonder if some people here are really atheists. :)

      ditto

  13. Nobody is evil and a brute by definition. I think we are all a mixture of good and bad. Evil is a theological term. What we don’t like and fear we may call evil. It is a human trait to think those who agree with you are good and those who disagree with you are bad. Life isn’t that simple. The present pope may be making reasonable statements as a PR gesture or it may be sincere. The fact is that he has sounded more reasonable than any pope since John XXIII who seemed like a good man to me. An atheist does not have to hate and condemn people who are not atheists. If we do that we are being as intolerant as those religious believers who reject those who don’t subscribe to their mumbojumbo.

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