This weekend I met a Spanish missionary who has for the last three years been working in Bolivia, primarily with homeless orphan children and teenagers. We had a fascinating discussion about Pope Francis and his upcoming visit to the United States which helped to clarify something for me Americans find hard to grasp: Pope Francis’ feet are firmly planted in the Developing World.
My missionary acquaintance said: “This is a Pope for the Church as it is coming to be: a Church of the Southern Hemisphere and a Church of the poor and struggling.” We talked about how the Church is growing in Africa, and how it is still vibrant and populous in Latin America and Brazil. The people are poor, but also young and procreative there, full of life and energy.
Just think back to World Youth Day and the mobs of excited Catholics that greeted “O Papa” with characteristic Brazilian warmth and enthusiasm. In contrast we have the sclerotic and post-modern Europe, who Francis has described as a “grandmother”, sterile and cold, materially blessed but slowly dying off of its own volition
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