During the last week I was inspired to look towards the elections of the new Catholic Pope Francis, like the all Christian world.
Francis, in his worldly name Jorge Mario Bergoglio comes from Argentina where he has been a Jesuit Priest and later an Archbishop of Buenos Aires.
He leaves the impression of a very humble and friendly man. Francis is 76 years old, born in December 17 1936 in Buenos Aires in a working class family of Italian emigrants.
As a Pope, after his election, he has taken a name Francis to honour the great catholic saint of the 12th century – Saint Francis of Assisi who has been famous for his selfless service to the poor and sick and his love to God.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio also has been known for his ascetic lifestyle:
People who have known him in Argentina are telling that even as an Archbishop he was living in a small and simple apartment, often preparing his own meals and refusing to use expensive limousines, using the public bus instead.
Bergoglio has also been known for helping and drawing attention to the poor people and their problems as homelessness, prostitution, child abuse.
During a 48-hour public servant strike in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Bergoglio spoke about the evident social injustice: "poor people who are persecuted for demanding work, and rich people who are applauded for fleeing from justice".
In 2002, during an economic crisis, Bergoglio harshly criticized those in power, saying,
"Let's not tolerate the sad spectacle of those who no longer know how to lie and contradict themselves to hold onto their privileges, their rapaciousness, and their ill-earned wealth."
In 2011, Bergoglio decried sweatshops and homelessness in Buenos Aires as forms of slavery:
"In this city, slavery is the order of the day in various forms, in this city workers are exploited in sweatshops and, if immigrants, are deprived of the opportunity to get out. In this city, there are kids on the streets for years....... The city failed and continues to fail in the attempt to free them from this structural slavery that is homelessness.”
In one of his first speeches after the election he said he dreams about a poor church without extra luxuries and worldliness, but spiritual and evangelical church that is walking with the cross and God and is closer to the ordinary people and those in need.
It is reported the relations of the new Catholic Pope with other religious groups has been very good and respectful. I have no data of his relations with a Buddhism and Hinduism, but between his close friends have been people from a protestant churches, he has visited a Muslim Mosque and Islamic school in Argentina. Bergoglio also has attended Jewish Rosh Hashanah services in 2007 at a synagogue in Buenos Aires and participated in Jewish Hanukah festival in 2012.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio always has been supporting open and respectful relations between religions and believing, a lot like me, that there are many things we can learn from each other. In a book Sobre el cielo y la tierra (About the Heaven and Earth) in 2011 about the interfaith dialog Bergoglio wrote:
“Dialogue is born from an attitude of respect for the other person, from a conviction that the other person has something good to say. It assumes that there is a room in the heart for the person’s point of view, opinion, and proposal. To dialogue entails a cordial reception, not a prior condemnation. In order to dialogue it is necessary to know how to lower the defences, open the doors of the house, and offer human warmth.″
Pope Francis is the 266th Roman Catholic Pope, but the first from South America. Although most Popes have been from Europe, there have been a number of popes from Syria, Libya, Egypt and Jerusalem in the first thousand years of church’s history.
I wish him all the very best and I hope we will hear many good things about him in the future!