Comments Off on Scholars say love for the poor illuminates Pope’s first six months
Washington D.C., Sep 20, 2013 / 12:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his first six months as Roman Pontiff, Pope Francis has shown his distinct style through a “prophetic” concern for the poor and a continuing outreach to those on the margins of society, say Catholic observers.
Kurt Martens, an associate professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., told CNA that Pope Francis, through his actions, has “gained a lot of credit in secular society, among those who were skeptical towards the Church.”
A study by Pew Research Center, released Sept. 12, found that nearly 80 percent of Catholics in the U.S. hold a favorable view of Pope Francis, while just four percent said they hold an unfavorable view. Support among the general U.S. population was also high, with 58 percent of respondents saying they view the Pope favorably.
A Pew analysis explained that these numbers have remained “largely unchanged” since Pope Francis was elected six months ago, on March 13.
Martens noted that some of this support could be part of a “honeymoon phase,” which may decline as the Pope addresses more controversial topics. However, the scholar also said that non-believers and lapsed Catholics are finding the Pope largely sympathetic.
Among the highlights of the last six months, Martens said, was the Pope’s call for a Sept. 7 prayer vigil for peace in Syria, which drew 100,000 people to St. Peter’s Square and prompted thousands of similar local events around the world.
This vigil could foreshadow Vatican diplomacy’s return to the “golden years” of the John Paul II era, which witnessed victory over Soviet communism and the prevention of war between Chile and Argentina, the scholar said.
He suggested that Pope Francis’ public stands, combined with the skill of the Holy See’s new Secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, could mean the Vatican will “play an even larger role” in international affairs than it has in the past.
“That would be great if the Holy See could play a renewed role as peacemaker in the world,” he said.
In addition, Martens praised the Pope’s “very strong attention to the poor,” characterizing this visible show of concern for those on the margins of society as “very evangelical and noble.”
He said that Pope Francis’ July 8 visit to refugee centers on the Italian island of Lampedusa was “very prophetic,” given the prevalent indifference to the plight of immigrants. The Pope was “reaching (Read More)