In a year filled with students speaking out on a wide range of issues, Pope Francis and Lorde took unexpected stands on issues that mattered to them, challenging the beliefs of many in their respective communities and bringing new schools of thought into established paradigms. As we look back and celebrate their contributions to society and culture over the past year, we look ahead with excitement and anticipation to see how their work will continue to ripple a wave of positive change in the years to come.
Pope Francis: mtvU Man of the Year
Pope Francis, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio to Italian parents in Buenos Aires, assumed the leadership role of the Catholic Church in March 2013, while focusing on breaking down bureaucracy and making the church more inclusive and community focused. Months into his papacy, he surprised many by declaring that he would not judge a person for their sexual orientation, taking a bold stance on homosexuality that diverged from that of his predecessor. Continuing in his quest to unite rather than divide the Church, Pope Francis gave a high profile interview that appeared in Jesuit publications around the world in September, preaching love, acceptance and humility over dogma.
“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods,” said Pope Francis in the interview. “It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”
Instead, Pope Francis, who took his name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi to demonstrate his concern for the well-being of the poor, has used his power to focus the Catholic Church on fighting poverty, luxury and vanity. His own humility and outspokenness in the name of acceptance has brought a new, unexpected voice to the Vatican in 2013.
If only the rest of us wee laymen were as bold and non-dogmatic as our pope. The pressure’s on: look attractive. We’ve got to keep up: the world is watching and learning.
The above “article” may be the quintessential snapshot of the soft-ultramontanist dilemma. On the one hand, when “the secular media” glom onto the Francis Effect, his fans rejoice at how “the world is finally listening to the Church [again?].” On the other hand, when the same “secular media” run with the pope’s quasi-Catholic headscratchers, his trusty troupe of Papal Auto-Tuners wring their hands for a few moments, and then brush it off as “the usual secular spin.”
The reality is much starker: either the world is “getting” the Church’s authentic teaching, or it is not. The world is either hearing the Church–and thus Christ–through Francis, or it is hearing Francis despite the hoary old shadow of the Church. The farther Evangelii Gaudium recedes into the online Catholic ghetto, and the more loudly “the pastoral pope’s” Christianese mantras are broadcast to the world, the clearer the enduring nature of the Francis
Effect Affect becomes.
* According to The Washington Post (11 Dec. 2013), Pope Francis’s selection “makes him the third pope to appear as Time’s Person of the Year. Pope John Paul II made the cover in 1994, and Pope John XXIII was chosen in 1962.” For some reason, that lineage says it all–but I’m hesitant to ponder too deeply what it says.
When the Internet gets a hold of something….
I was sent the following under this heading:
“As a Catholic and a fan of ’30 Rock,’ I couldn’t be prouder.”