Pope Francis

Posted By Horizon Staff March 28th, 2013 in News : 0 COMMENTS

Josh Straschewski
Staff writer

A South American country of origin and Jesuit roots have prompted much discussion following the induction of Pope Francis into the papacy, March 13. His induction signals a shift in focus for the Catholic Church. After a rather abrupt and unorthodox transition in leadership from the late Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis had to pick up the pieces and start where Benedict left off. At the end of Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy there was rumored theological tension between the Islamic and Catholic faith. This was in part due to comments made by Pope Benedict towards the leaders of the Muslim world, comprehended by Muslims to be negative remarks toward their faith.

While in Vatican City, Pope Francis made it clear that one of his intended goals was to do away with the religious chasms created by a miscommunication between faiths. He is embracing his role within the Catholic Church as pontiff, stating, “My wish is that the dialogue between us should help to build bridges connecting all people, in such a way that everyone can see in the other not an enemy, not a rival, but a brother or sister to be welcomed and embraced.” (NY Times)

This declaration signifies his intention to make net gain in the development of capacity for an understanding of God not just within the Catholic Church, but in religion on a global scale.

During a meeting between the Pope and spiritual leaders from various other countries, he commenced the dialogue by saying, “Fighting poverty, both material and spiritual, building peace and constructing bridges: these, as it were, are the reference points for a journey that I want to invite each of the countries here represented to take up.” (NY Times)

Moving away from over-evangelical impositions of a separate theological sphere encourages collective thinking and peaceful cooperation between different faiths, all seeking to more fully understand God. Pope Francis intends to look past the differences and more towards the similarities between religious communities.

Popes choose their own name when appointed to the papacy, and the new pope’s selection of the name “Francis” refering to Francis of Assisi, symbolizes the “poverty, humility, simplicity, and rebuilding [of] the Catholic Church,” says CNN Vatican analyst John Allen. If Pope Francis lives up to his name and fulfills the dreams he envisions for the Catholic Church, his papacy may not only spark a metamorphosis within the rigid structure and function of Catholicism, but also provoke spiritual unification of a world that has for so long been content to live in religiously fragmented polarization.

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