This latest Global Plus column comes from the journalist with the closest, ongoing access to Pope Francis: Sergio Rubin. This noted Argentine journalist collaborated on a book-length biography with Jorge Bergoglio, who now is known around the world as Francis. In this column, Rubin shares his insights into Francis’s attempts to revive and renew the worldwide church.
In a series of scientific advances, researchers are developing a body of evidence challenging old stereotypes of humility as the province of weak-willed, stoop-shouldered individuals of low self-worth. The reality, research shows, is that it takes a strong will and courage to celebrate the gifts of others, while being honest about one’s own shortcomings. But it pays off. Just as a lack of humility can lead to a downward spiral of suspicion, distrust and violence, so, too, can the practice of humility reinforce other virtues and contribute to a more generous, inclusive, caring society.
As he marks his third anniversary on the job, Pope Francis is providing encouragement, renewed optimism and a new energy to many of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. It is an appeal that extends beyond Catholics as the humble leader addresses issues from the refugee crisis to the environment. But can one person, even someone as charismatic as Francis, bring about lasting change?
Religion is playing a major role in response to the European economic crisis. As faith-based organizations are increasingly depended upon to meet basic needs, a new landscape of challenges and opportunities is emerging that could result in dramatic shifts in church-state relations. A key question: Can a continent, once seen by many as on an inexorable march toward secularization, create new boundaries between the religious and the secular that respond to social needs in Europe’s increasingly diverse societies?
The global refugee crisis represents a potential transformational moment in world history. Nations from Africa to Asia to Europe to North America with troubled pasts of ethnic conflict and of putting political and economic self-interest above humanitarian needs have an opportunity to write new chapters in their national stories. Religion is playing and will play a critical role.