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Pope Francis – a symbol and vehicle of hope


This year, 2015, as our Prime Minister goes to speak at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGAS), the winds of change are upsetting the politics of the world. There is an uprising of disturbing dreams and visions and voices from the world’s ghettos and stables. That is what President Obama and Pope Francis, among others, symbolize.{{more}}

When, about 40 years ago, the evangelical pastor from Dominica, Rev Philip Potter, head of the World Council of Churches, met the then Pope from Poland, he made this observation, in effect; You and I have a parallel heritage and calling. You come to lead the Roman Catholic Church from the periphery of the socialist world; I come from the periphery of the capitalist world to a position in the World Council of Churches. That is our gift to the church. History suggests that both men, in different ways, made a positive contribution to the life and witness of the church. Today, from the periphery of the world’s cultural and economic communities, the gifting continues; a conscious African leads the United States of America, and a conscious Argentinian leads the Roman Catholic Church. To tell the truth, apart from a distant appreciation of some academic works by Argentinians, and the legendary Ernesto Guevara, Isabel Peron and Diego Maradona might be the Argentinians I know most about through the media.

It’s funny, you know, it was a Pope who took a world map and shared out the world that the Columbus guys showed Europe. He gave Spain piece, and Portugal the rest. That was the experimental beginning of an upstairs and downstairs world, or a world with power in the centre and deprivation and extortion at the periphery or edges. Now, 500 years later, the centres of power in our world carry a moral and spiritual pregnancy that is heavy with the kind of hope that terrifies emperors and Herods. The Pope from downstairs, from the periphery, is answering the call to be one of the midwives of hope. He needs helping hands, just like President Obama does.


Today’s Climate Change, the result of four centuries and more of modern industries spitting out carbon laden gases, and warming up planet earth more than we can sustain, is one of the historic responsibilities of our major industrial countries and corporations. Our whole way of life has become chained to these petro indexed industrial goods, and especially to the powerful oil and gas companies that provide energy for home and industry and society. Now, these energy giants and countries will do everything to prevent us from imagining a world without ‘fossil fuel’ bondage. But such a world is possible, and climate change can thus become governable, and we also will have to arrive at a climate managed lifestyle. The geothermal/ volcano source of energy is one option. New, efficient and safe methods of generating hydrogen as an energy provider are coming on stream. The possibilities are opening up, but it is important that the new energy industries have root, not only in industry rich companies and countries, but be developed in peripheral, downstairs countries as well. That is the climate that makes over the world, rids us from being the downstairs countries, only good for super athletes and entertainers and refugees, clients of the world entertainment and charity markets.

Hope is not a road strewed with rose petals. If we were to listen to the men and women who will speak at the UNGAS, we would lose some of our hope. Pick sense out of the Empire rhetoric that still rolls off the American President’s tongue; hear the Russian President reset the ‘western’ formula for Syria to his own equally suspect position, and pay attention to the Cuban President break the silence of half a century’s banishment.

2015 is a time to open our lips, raise our hope, come out of the shadow of the leaders like Barack Obama and Pope Francis. From the periphery and the downstairs, all people must talk to the heavens and walk our piece of earth in company with our others.