Pope Francis just left the United States (U.S.) after an almost weeklong visit that has caused quite a stir across the country, and the world. The Pope visited major cities, and even shrugged off a meeting with Congressional leaders to visit and serve homeless folks. However, the biggest take away's not only from his visit to the U.S. but since he has assumed the roll of Pope has been to critique capitalism, offer an apology for faith based colonial attacks on Indigenous people, and most recently to call out the failure of the prison industrial complex.
During his U.S. visit the Pope also met with victims of sex abuse scandals fostered by clergy members, supporters for environmental protection, and immigrant families. Some environmentalists champion the Pope for speaking out about climate change and the sin it presents to the world for treating the earth in such a way. His plan, which unfortunately did not take place, to cross the Mexico-U.S. border would've been a great act in solidarity for undocumented citizens of the U.S. had it actually happened. His words in Congress to end arms trades, to open doors to immigrants, and to link climate change to inequality and poverty are nothing short of spectacular. But we're talking about the leader of a HUGE religiously dogmatic regime here. How can this be?
To be frank, this Pope has ruffled feathers and will continue to do so. He's a man to watch, read up on and listen to. While some have said, regarding sexuality, it's more about what he hasn't said than what he has said, if he can take deeper steps on certain issues he might be one of the biggest individuals to enact and foster change in quite some time. As much as it shouldn't matter, individuals in leadership roles do help enact revolution and change. It's all about community in the end, but individuals can spark the change.
However, what must not be lost is the Pope has maintained his conviction to canonize Junipero Serra, a Spanish missionary said to have helped usher in a wave of imperialism, genocide and oppression on California Indigenous People during first contact in the 18th century. In addition, the Pope continues to favor patriarchal roots of men dominating women through the church, especially when it comes to women's rights.
On these last few points alone, the Pope can not be looked at at the "radical" he appears to be, but then again, will pressure from those opposing his push to canonize Junipero, and those pushing him to engage justly on issues of sexuality and gender rights get to him enough for him to give way? If so, the Pope may truly be one to watch and support for the necessary paradigm shift needed in this world. For now, we wait, we study, we push, we find his flaws and bring them to him to discuss, analyze and defend. There are some MAJOR flaws with some his positions, but there's hope. In Solidarity.