Any time of year is a good time to discuss poverty but the subject has obvious resonance at Christmas. Thus, unsurprisingly, Pope Francis recently wrote about the necessity of compassion for those on the margins. However, the Pope's letter also took capitalism in general to task -- troubling because the relationship between wealth creation and the alleviation of (some) poverty is often misunderstood. The Pontiff's critique will not necessarily correct this confusion. The Pope's letter is a broad-brush critique but thoughtful readers should pause, ponder and then object.
While there was undoubtedly something less than consistent about his "Stop being so preoccupied with abortion!/Let's talk about abortion!" chain of commentary this week, the Pope still deserves credit. His actions and words have been constant in their focus on delivering people help, love and protection, rather than on condemning people for their choices or natures. Even Pope Francis's anti-abortion comments to Catholic gynecologists on Friday seemed to centre on the dignity of life, rather than on the sin of those who would take it.
By washing the feet of two Muslims the Pope has sent a message that it is time for us to reach out to other faiths. This is also a message to Catholic Trustees to open the doors of our schools. Some Ontario Catholic school systems already allow non-Catholics to attend their elementary schools. Two years ago I heard one of these students speak at a conference. This student shared how much he enjoyed learning about Catholicism during the week, while he also liked learning about his religion on Saturdays. This boy of 10 or 11 had more interfaith respect and understanding than most of us can hope to learn in a lifetime.
Immediately after Pope Francis became the leader of the world's 1.2-billion Catholics this week, he prayed for guidance. And it's little wonder. He is the newly elected CEO of the Vatican. The United States, despite a currency mantra of "In God We Trust," has also been forced to undergo serious soul-searching following its 2008 fiscal catastrophe.
When you take over the Catholic Church, or Yahoo, or a losing soccer team, or any other organization that is losing relevance and showing declining numbers, coming in with a strong brand and showing early results is critical. Here are some tips from how the new Pope and the new CEO of Yahoo have done so far.
Abhorring patriarchy, and based on the church's adherence to the doctrine that animals have no soul, in early adulthood I chose to disengage with the Catholic faith. Then came the staggering confirmation that the new pope chose the name Pope Francis. I was flooded with emotion -- Saint Francis: the revered Patron Saint of animals.
This edition of Vatican Idol -- brought to you at a cost of many millions by nearly every media outlet in the world -- is, thank the lord, finally over. Much sound (hymns, sermons and endless journalistic platitudes), no visible fury, and in the end, no significance except the name of the next chief executive officer of this exclusive and dysfunctional men's club.