EDITORIAL: First Jesuit pope brings emphasis on social values

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Editorial - Vatican PopeFollowing the selection of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis, a popular talking point expressed in both the media and in personal sentiments is that he does not offer change. Catholics who wanted a more progressive leader cite his stances against homosexuality, abortion and birth control as reasons that his leadership may not be different from Pope Benedict XVI’s or any of his other predecessors. However, as the first Jesuit pope, Francis does indeed bring something new to the table, stressing and practicing values of peace, justice and charity that are at the core of our own university.

University President the Rev. Scott Pilarz noted on “CBS This Morning” last Thursday that despite the desires of many American Catholics to change Church doctrine on controversial issues, the pope’s duty is to serve the whole world and not just the United States. Therefore, Francis’ experience and dedication assisting in impoverished areas of the world is critical. Francis has said multiple times that Roman Catholicism needs to shift outward to the world beyond Rome, rather than being “self-referential.”

Francis’ strongest, most Jesuit attribute as pope is his focus on humility, dignity and social justice. His humility in particular shows through in his personal life since his election as pope – he deviated from Vatican protocol by shaking hands with people outside the Vatican’s gates; he rode a bus with the cardinals, rather than the papal limousine, when he was leaving the conclave; and he paid his own hotel bill and carried his own bags as he left.

We should approach formulating our opinions of the selection of Francis with the same sense of humility. Regardless of our personal opinions on Church doctrine and some of the more controversial issues facing the Church, looking at his selection through the lens of the rest of the world will help us see the positives he brings. Many Catholics might not think this decision helps the Church “move forward” or might say the Church is stuck in tradition, but if we consider every issue from the angle of a global community, we should be able to see that many can benefit from Francis’ service.

Jesuits have been known to be the order of the Church that sometimes strays from Church teaching because of their efforts to focus on social justice. Because of this history, Francis’ role as pope is an incredible and delicate opportunity for a restored sense of harmony. As the first Jesuit and South American pope, Francis’ service to the Church can benefit many of its members. We must have an open mind to understand that.

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