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10 July 2013
Let’s hear it for Jorge Mario Bergoglio!
Well, that is in fact the guy’s real name but we have to admit he is perhaps better known as Pope Francis.
So hats off to Pope Francis! Or maybe we should use the traditional lingo of the Catholic Church and say “Laudemus Papam!”
So why should a blog which normally regards religion as the preserve of nutters be high-fiving the Vatican’s head honcho?
Well, for the same reason that we sometimes – very rarely, it is true – speak up for America’s politicians: when someone does something of which we approve, we congratulate them, whoever they are and wherever they come from.
So what’s the Pope been doing lately to merit our plaudits?
Simply doing what he said he would do when he became Pope on 13 March this year – refocusing the energies of the Catholic Church on the wretched of the earth.
It should not be forgotten that Jorge Mario Bergoglio chose the papal monicker of Francis – the first of 266 Popes to do so – in obeisance to St Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), who forsook a life of wealth to serve the poor.
So, true to his word, on Monday 8 July 2013 Pope Francis, an Argentinian of Italian extraction, pitched up in Lampedusa, making the first ever papal visit to this tiny Italian island with an area of about 20 km2.
The most southerly point of Europe, Lampedusa has become the preferred point of entry into the European Union for tens of thousands of penniless would-be immigrants who cross the hundred or so kilometres that separate it from Africa in overcrowded and often unseaworthy fishing-boats and makeshift rafts. Many never make it and drown at sea when their craft capsizes.
About 8000 immigrants are said to have landed up on Italy’s southern coasts so far this year.
John Hooper, the London Guardian’s Italy correspondent, took up the story in Tuesday’s edition, saying the Pope had lambasted the rich world for its lack of concern for the suffering of immigrants and inveighed against what he called “a globalisation of indifference”.
The thought of the immigrants’ suffering had come to him repeatedly like a “thorn in the heart”, he said. “We have become used to the suffering of others. It doesn’t affect us. It’s not our business.”
He also asked pardon for “those who are complacent and closed amid comforts which have deadened their hearts” and forgiveness for “those who by their decisions at the global level have created situations that lead to these tragedies”.
He also shook hands with some recent immigrants and praised the inhabitants of Lampedusa (population about 5000) for their solidarity with the incomers.
Not for nothing is Pope Francis’s motto “Miserando et Eligendo” – a text taken from the Homilies of the Venerable Bede, an English monk and historian (673-735) – which can be glossed as “Having mercy [on those who are despised] and chosing [them as one’s own companions]”.
And so say all of us!
Well done, Pope.
You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts. For instance:
1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)
3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
4. Capitalism in practice (4 July 2012)
5.Ladder (21 June 2012)
6. A tale of two cities (1) (6 June 2012)
7. A tale of two cities (2) (7 June 2012)
8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)
Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.