The Latest News: March 15, 2013
I’m just going to dive in this week and start with the selection of Jorge Mario Bergolio as Pope Francis I. Although there was no clear front-runner among the cardinals as to who the new Pope should be, Francis still came as a surprise. He is the first Pope from Argentina, or anywhere outside Europe for that matter, and is said to have been almost chosen as Pope eight years ago. Today, though, he still faces great challenge as religious leader of more than one billion people. There is conflict within the church between conservative bureaucracy and others looking to bring the church into the twenty-first century, conflict between many Catholics in Europe and North America distant from conservative policies and those in Africa and South America more welcoming to the traditional church, conflict over the decade-long sexual abuse scandals that are still emerging, conflict over the finances of the Church. Needless to say, Francis faces some challenges. Hopefully, with his humble past and focus on the social aspects of Catholicism, he can help the Church adjust. That said, the Church’s stance on gays and contraception is unlikely to change; there are several now infamous comments in which Francis, then Jorge Mario Bergolio, harshly condemned the legalization of gay marriage and universal contraception in Argentina. This, combined with the fact that Pope-emeritus Benedict is still likely to be influential, suggests that the selection of Francis is less inspirational or altering than superficially perceived.
In other news, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved an assault weapon ban that is part of Obama’s commitment to gun control after Newtown (as expected, it was passed along party lines, an example of the continuous partisanship in Washington), nearly 3,000 pigs were found, dead and floating, in a Chinese river (and the government continues to say that the water is uncontaminated), the music festival South by Southwest brought hundreds of musicians to Austin, and a medieval knight was found under a parking lot in Scotland (after King Richard III’s remains were found under a parking lot in Leicester a few months ago, some five hundred years after his death). Quite a week!
by Emma Currier