Recently the Roman Catholic Church elected its first pope having the unique name of Pope Francis 1. This was unprecedented in the history of the church that a new Pope chose the name of one of most holiest of saints, St.Francis of Assisi. Francis of Assisi was one of the most respected figures in Christendom, where his love and compassion to humans, animals and even the environment are well known.
Why is the election of a Pope so important? In a world where economic downturn is used as a tool to depress the aspirations of middle class, bailouts used to encourage the wealthy despite their transgressions, the poor of the 21st century has neither hope or depression! It is thus important to understand that we have completely ignored the poor and the needy. NGOs collect billions in the name of upliftment of the poor (now that the modern governments have washed their hands of it due to reasons only known to them) only to filter it lean in the name of overheads, administration costs etc.
Are poverty levels falling? If you believe economists and the media, it is. The living conditions of the modern era has been so drastically altered such that the definition of poverty is skewed. It is hard to quantify ‘poverty’ today.
Poverty doesn’t have to be one of economic needs, it can be one of social needs. One of the best features of globalization is the fact that in addition to the trade of wealth and services across the globe, the potential to trade the social attributes as well. The appetite for economic consumption, a necessary ingredient of capitalism, has found its way to the traditionally conservative economies of Asia. As consumption increases, a poverty of a different kind emerges: one of natural resources! This poverty has a potential to alter our entire sustenance on this earth.
There is a saying what goes around, comes around. In today’s world, the populace is held hostage by economic variables like inflation, currency value, recession etc., the poverty of the earth’ resources caused by increasing population and increased consumption has a domino effect on the human civilisation. This leads to a stark reality: we are getting poorer each day!!
Since the World Wars, when unimaginable atrocities resulted in the massacre of millions, the whole idea of spirituality being a ‘one big hoax’ has attained popularity. Over the decades, till today, efforts have been made earnestly to under-value and destroy religion altogether. The hopes of the supporters of organized religion have been battered by corruption and scandals in the various religious structures of the former. Fanatic religious movements sprung up in all the religions, bolstered by the benefits of capitalism, aided in fastening the demise of the organized religion and spirituality overall.
Into this colossal mess, comes the advent of a Jesuit pope. I do not know, whether the various attributes of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is a media hype or fact. But he exudes hope, a hope of change, the last hope of organized religion to redeem itself and turn a new chapter. A new chapter, where the church understands the true meaning of Christ’s mission of social justice; where the church leads the world in a new spiritual awakening that opens the doors of enlightenment and wisdom, by which we humans rise up to higher heights of understanding.
Image courtesy: Aljazeera, Reuters