Pope of Vatican CityNext
- In-Country Power
- International Power
- Military Strength
- Special Skill: Man of the People
- Official Title: Pope
- Government: Theocracy
- Years Left in Office: Life or till resignation
- Political Classification: Right
- Education: Theological Studies
- Age: 86 (born December 16, 1936)
Pope Francis Facts and Information
- Pope Francis I is the first Pope from the Americas & the Southern Hemisphere, and the first Jesuit Pope.
- The Pope is the head honcho of the Catholic faith, which has 1.2 billion adherents worldwide.
- To believers, the Pope is the ultimate authority and interpreter of their faith, and essentially a spokesman for the Almighty.
- Pope Benedict has championed a program of simplicity and universality, and worked to reach out to other religions.
- The Pope is contending with declining numbers of adherents and challenges from the secular, material world.
- The Pope is the only world leader that has a vehicle named after him..
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Plaid Avenger is with thee! Time to talk about the little man with the biggest hat who is the ruler of the smallest state on the planet! Of course I am referring to His Holiness, Pope Francis I of Vatican City, the 266th and current head of the Catholic Church! Wearing the crown of the city-state is of the least consequence when it comes to his real power and influence; it is the 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide that think that the Pope is the mouthpiece and spokesman for Jesus that really makes this man a force to be reckoned with, and a serious character on the world stage. So what is up with the ‘Papa’?
Well, he is new at the job here in 2013, and has come into the position in a rather unique way: the last guy quit! That don’t happen too often with popes, so this is a hurry-up offense in terms of learning the job on the fly. And the way he got the job is not the only unique aspect of this situation, as his background makes him quite unique as well: Pope Francis I is the first pope from the Americas! He is from Argentina! We got a real geographic original here!
Now I’m sure a lot of people are pretty curious who this new pope is, especially all the European fanatics who are devastated that this is the first pope NOT from Europe in over 1,000 years. Oh, and the guy from a thousand years ago was from North Africa…..so just across the Mediterranean Sea from the Papal Palace, which hardly dents their diversity for a last couple of millennium. The question is, why would they vote for someone who is not from Europe? Well let’s think of it this way: what continent has the majority of the Catholic people? Hint: it ain’t Europe!
Religious participation and membership has been on a steady decline for decades in Europe, as has their total population….despite the Popes preaching the evils of condoms, abortions, and birth control. Oh wait, maybe that’s why Europeans stopped going to church there to begin with….
But back to point: Latin America and Africa are now the places with the largest, and growing populations of Catholics in the world, so it does seem fitting that the Vatican has finally diversified to pick a leader from their growing base, not the declining one. It was important for the Catholic Church to bring in a representative of the majority of the people, rather than picking a stodgy old European dude to serve as an icon. Not diminishing the awesomeness of Pope Francis’s résumé and mad skills in his own right, but you gotta think that it was way past due for the church to diversify, if not modernize. Maybe that is next. But back to His Holiness…
What is interesting about the Cardinals’ choice for Pope is that they picked, for the first time, a Jesuit Pope. Now most of us are probably wondering what the hell that even means. Well, just as there are Sunni and Shia Muslims, there actually are sub-branches of the Catholic tree that differ slightly in form and flavor. So what is a Jesuit?
The Society of Jesus was founded by Ignatius of Loyola in 1540AD….and here’s a fun fact: Ignatius was born to a noble family, was known for being a lady’s man, and a kick-ass Spanish knight. But then he was wounded in the Battle of Pamplona and while he was healing for months and months, the one of the only books to read in the castle was the Bible. He read it and had a revelation to spread the word of God. So basically Jesuits around the world have been known for their dedication to education, athletics, and building boys into “Men for Others.” Jesuits are considered one of the most intellectual and education-focused orders because even with a college degree, they receive about 12 years of training, work and education before they are ordained. That’s a lot of time to teach in Jesuit schools (mainly all boys schools), and learn. And now back to our super-boy and new Pope: Francis served as Head of Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in Argentina from 1973-1979.
So, what will the Jesuit-Argentinian-American Pope do any differently than his predecessors? And what will remain the same? And what details from his past would give us clues to answer these divine questions?
Well, for starters, he is uniquely positioned to build stronger ties with peeps around the planet, and not just the Catholic ones. Pope Francis is known very well in Argentina of course, but also by a lot of other religious communities too, including the Jewish faith. During his visit to the Buenos Aires synagogue to examine his heart, Pope Francis said he would worship “like a pilgrim, together with you, my elder brothers”. Not only does he respect their religion, he even considers them elder brothers! Pope Francis was also the first public person to sign a petition condemning the bombing on AMIA (Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina) in 1994, and adamantly called for justice. The World Jewish Congress, Israel Singer, noted that he was impressed with Pope Francis’ modesty, remembering that “if everyone sat in chairs with handles [arms], he would sit in the one without.”
And it’s not just the Jewish community that shines to Francis, as he has fans in the Islamic world as well. Islamic Community in Buenos Aires said Pope Francis, “always showed himself as a friend of the Islamic community”, and a person whose position is “pro-dialogue”. According to them, Pope Francis immediately distanced himself from the quote from previous Pope Benedict XVI describing Muhammad as “evil and inhuman”...a statement that created outrage within the Islamic community, and which might “serve to destroy in 20 seconds the careful construction of a relationship with Islam that Pope John Paul II built over the last 20 years.”
Distancing yourself away from the head of your own religion for the sake of another’s does display incredible integrity, bravery, and compassion…and by most descriptions, Francis I has all that and a lot more. Lastly, Pope Francis has also written about his commitment to open and respect interfaith dialogue as a way for all parties engaged in that dialogue to learn from one another. Dude, this Francis guy is putting himself way out there, right from day 1 on the job!
BUT!!!!!! Don’t think for one minute that Francis’s open-minded attitude toward other faiths makes him any sort of internal reformer or new-age liberal Catholic! Hell no, with the emphasis on the old-school version of Hell! He is def a man of traditional conservative values, and is quite outspoken about his strong beliefs. He is NOT a proponent of gay rights, gay marriage, abortion, use of birth control, or any number of bedrock Catholic conservative views. Pope Francis called gay adoption “discrimination against children,” and elaborated that the practice was “depriving [children] of the human growth that God wanted them given by a father and a mother.” Yep, he ain’t changing his mind about gay rights or anything else in this category of thought.
But just because he is a socially strong conservative, that doesn’t mean he only vocalizes against abortion and homosexual marriage: Pop Francis has also criticized priests who refuse to baptize babies born to single mothers. It is increasingly common world-wide for babies to be born out of wedlock, and thus are withheld from being baptized by priests. New Pope no like: Pope Francis says the priests are holding, “the people of God from salvation.”
But perhaps the most controversial part of his résumé pertains to the kidnapping of two Jesuit priests by the Argentinian Navy. If fact, he was accused of being involved in the kidnapping; however, no evidence has pointed to that, and he has admitted his inability to stand up for the problem at hand. If anyone really questioned if Pope Francis has the testicular fortitude to piss people off, this will show you. Pope Francis requests for more political dialogue, reject intolerance, and criticize exhibitionism on the first National Government holiday in 2004 in front of the then president Nestor Kirchner. He called out the president so insultingly that he considered the Pope a political rival and suspended the Cathedral mass the following National Day. During his time as archbishop, Cristina Fernández rejected 14 requests for meetings by Pope due to his confrontation with politics in Argentina. Don’t piss him off because he will be the first to get in your face for it.
Now I bet most people always picture priests, Cardinals, and the Pope to be quite boring people who determines what is right and wrong in current disputes which usually takes out all the fun in life. Well Pope Francis isn’t quite that way at least. Pope Francis, like most Argentinians, is an die hard soccer fan. Francis is not only a supporter, but is literally a card-carrying member of Buenos Aires’ San Lorenzo club. The team was named for a priest, San Lorenzo, who let children play in his church’s courtyard. Unfortunately his team sucks since they are currently 12th in the Argentine Primera Division. This little guy is defiantly isn’t too old for the youth, he has a twitter that has passed 10 million followers, yes you read correctly 10 MILLION peeps wanting to see what this dude has to say! The only other world leader that has had more followers than Papa Francis’ 10 mill is Barack Obama! Aside from keeping up with the social media, Pope Francis also likes to dance. “I like the tango a lot, and when I was young I used to dance it,” he said in a 2010 biography about him “El Jesuita.” He gave up tangoing when he gave up girls and “discovered my religious vocation.” Pope Francis would drink and read the bible with you if you are a friend of his… how awesome is that? He is also known to be quite the friendly guy with the public, and on the Papal Mass back in 2013 he rode around the crowd in an open buggie shaking hands with hundreds of people, which certainly pisses off those Swiss Guards trying to protect his life! And in 2014’s Palm Sunday homily, he made those guards mad again when he posed for “selfies” with young people and also sipped tea passed to him from the crowd. He is even getting his own magazine dedicated to the weekly doings, sayings, gestures and activities of the 265th Successor of Peter. For only 50 cents you can pick up your own copy of “My Pope” magazine that hit newsstands in March of 2014… I mean come on this guy is the coolest of the cool when it comes to being a Pope! One of the greatest points about Pope Francis is that he is changing the way high powered religious people will be treated. As the Archbishop of Buenos Aires he turned down the opportunity to live in the palatial Archibishop’s residence, opting for a spartan apartment as well as cooking his own meals and taking the bus. He even chose to take a minivan with the other cardinals after he was elected pope rather than ride in a special sedan. Pope Francis told Argentinians not to travel to Rome to celebrate if he was appointed but to give their money to the poor instead. After being elected pope, he remained standing on the same level as the cardinal-electors rather than sitting in a throne. He is changing the way the church is run, and time will prove it.
But let’s end on an angelic high note: Essentially, in a world full of ignorant fray, Pope Francis I is diligently trying to be a cool cat, and do what leaders of religious institutions and state apparatuses are meant to do…namely, make life better for the folks in their flock. While the Pope may only have official leadership over the world’s smallest country, both in terms of area and population, his power and his peeps stretch into almost every other country on the planet that contains part of his 1.2 billion strong Catholic contingency.
Wherever there is a Christian following, especially of the Catholic denomination, and a church in which they gather, he has unsurpassable authority and astronomical levels of influence. This is why the person in the papal office holds such importance in the rest of the world, and the politics around which it revolves. He is the highest cleric in a faith comprising 1/5th of the world’s population; he has the power of excommunication, (that’s the ultimate shit-list!), he commands a sovereign nation inside the city of Rome, and he rocks the most awesomely funny hats in style. To top it all off: the Popemobile. Nuff said.
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