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.
Issues of faith in public life dominate world news, but religion is often misunderstood or ignored in media coverage. It’s understandable. The world’s religions are the result of hundreds of years of history, prayer and tradition, and this is not easy to reflect and to explain in newspaper, radio, TV or via new-media formats. Many journalists are seeking keys to unlock this complex beat that sparks enormous public interest.
Religious fashion matters. It matters to individuals who view wearing head scarves, kippas and turbans as a positive expression of faith, and it matters to societies increasingly setting restrictions on religious attire in response to concerns ranging from security to the belief that increasing diversity represents a threat to the essential character of their nations. So how, in the face of intense political and social pressures, can nations balance issues of religious freedom, tolerance and national identity? A developing body of research sheds some light on the debate.