Monday, July 13, 2015

Pope Francis Travels to Latin America


Two people have dominated the news during the summer of 2015: Pope Francis (inspiring) and Donald Trump (sometimes amusing, but usually depressing).

Last week, the Pope traveled to Latin America -- in particular, to Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay. I gather that he chose these countries because they are three of the continent's poorest, and he is emphasizing the issue of global poverty.

In an article in yesterday's Times (here), Binyamin Applebaum compares Francis's focus on poverty (and its link to global warming) to Pope John Paul's challenge to communism in the 1980's. I like the way that Applebaum puts Francis in historical context, and I think the analogy to John Paul is accurate.

I think it's fantastic that Francis is so engaged on the issue of climate change. He is one of the few (only?) people in the world with the moral (as opposed to scientific) authority to speak on the topic, and I think his words could greatly influence (1) people's opinions and (2) government policy. I don't care if some of his prescriptions are not quite right; I'm just glad that he is focusing people's attention and efforts on the big picture of climate change and the urgent need to address it.

I love the photograph above, which accompanied yesterday's article and shows the pope with two children in Paraguay. It really emphasizes his humanity and ability to connect with people.

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