The Pope has brought a renovated agenda that has increased his geopolitical influence
Everyone wants to meet the Pope, from chiefs of State, elderly queens to even Hollywood stars. Even though the Vatican is the smallest State in the world, it is very influential, especially under the leadership of Pope Francis. The Vatican maintains diplomatic relationships with 170 States and institutions, a network that most countries can only dream of, but even Francis has detractors; people who do not like him as a leader at all. They are a minority, but they will do everything they can to ensure their voices are heard.
Most of the Pope’s enemies are ultraconservative and traditionalist Catholics who disapprove of the Pope’s informal style and of his declared efforts to make the Church into “a poor Church for the poor”. On the other hand is neo-liberals, particularly American ones, who consider Francis’s criticisms against capitalism a great sin.
Pope Francis’s statements and speeches echo all over the globe. For a fifth consecutive year, he has occupied a high position in the list of Time magazine’s most influential people. Regardless of the religion that predominates in most countries, the list of invitations for a papal visit is quite impressive. This happens because, according to the agency of surveys and probes WIN/Gallup International, the Pope is seen as an envoy for peace and as someone who has no “colonialist” pretentions. A probe designed by said agency gathered data from 63.272 individuals from 64 different nations. It showed that more than five in every ten individuals, 54%, regardless of their religion, have a positive view of Pope Francis. 12% have a negative view, and 34% would rather not say.
In regards to different religions, 85% of Catholics approve of Pope Francis, 65% of Jews have a positive view, as well as 33% of Buddhists and 28% of Muslims. This does not mean that the majority of Buddhists and Muslims have a negative view of Pope Francis, but rather that most of them do not know who he is: respectively 57% and 55%, as the study reports. The atmosphere that helps Francis maintain a good reputation is his lack of negative declarations against Islam and the Orthodox Church. On the contrary, he seems to always be looking for closeness between members of different religions.
Pope Francis has also become an idol of marketing; the communicator per excellence. Forbes magazine celebrates these qualities. He is a leader because he knows how to excite the masses, takes clear positions, and precisely calculated responsibilities.
The Pope’s influence has extended beyond the religious sphere; he intervened in the secret diplomatic meetings between the United States and Cuba to settle a feud more than 50 years old by sending messages to foment and agreement and later arranging for both parties to meet at the Vatican. In Colombia, Francis has been a key figure to encourage the peace agreements and guarantee the end of 50 years of internal conflict. His visit to the Central African Republic, a country in war, has been his riskiest papal trip yet. His passing through refugee camps has been one of the most important moments because it sent a powerful diplomatic message to the world.
The Pope has yet to put all of his cards on the table, but his principal mission of making the poor the main focus of the Church has allowed him to intervene in the most important global debates, such as climate change, immigration, and the capitalist economy. The Pope does not appear bothered by his contradicting actions. In fact, he appears to not see them as contradictions; he has promoted open dialogue.
Latin American Post | Carlos Eduardo Gómez Avella
Translated by Laura Rocha Rueda
Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto