Pope Francis has shocked traditionalists again this week by breaking official protocol as he drove through his hometown of Buenos Aires. Pope Francis spotted his old friend Reverend Fabian Baez in the crowd and immediately signalled to the Vatican gendarmes to help him over the barricade. The Pope greeted his friend warmly, invited him to sit down in the Pope-mobile and then continued with his duties, waving, kissing babies and shaking hands. Baez, a parish priest in Buenos Aires, was not a VIP, which would have allowed him a spot close to the altar where he would be able to talk to the Pope. Francis is breaking new ground in the Catholic church, and becoming a truly modern Pope.
Baez stated he was surprised and delighted at the Pope’s warm greeting. The two have been friends since the early 1990s as Pope Francis formally held the position of archbishop in the Argentine capital.
This behaviour is not the first time that Pope Francis has freed up the laws around his traditional role. Instead of sleeping in the Apostolic Palace, he chooses instead to reside in the Vatican hotel. When he leaves Vatican grounds he chooses to do so without an elaborate motorcade and with only the barest security detail. Also, during a recent trip to Brazil he travelled around with just a simple Fiat, rather than the more usual armoured car. After the announcement of his successful candidacy, he carried his own luggage to the Vatican and paid his own hotel bills.
In addition, Francis is at the head of a new movement against relentless, worldwide capitalism, or what he calls the “idolatry of money.” Whilst movements like the 99% gained popularity last summer, they failed to have a global impact due to the disparate nature of the movement. They held only tenuous links between cities, states and countries.
Now however, Pope Francis has picked up the mantle. This is a stance with global appeal and a decision that could revive the Catholic faith. Skeptics are calling the attention on capitalism and the global economy something of a deflection away from other issues that show the church in a bad light. The issues with pedophile priests that dogged Pope Benedict’s time in the Vatican is a good example. Right wing politicians are even calling him a Marxist in his ideals. Yet Pope Francis has maintained a modern stance on other hotbed issues such as gay marriage and abortion, but he is known to have said that the economic issue is equally urgent and needs to be addressed.
Pope Francis is attempting to drag the Catholic Church into the modern age. He has embraced social media, continuing to gain support and followers on Twitter from the moment he took up the position as pontiff. Although he is reputed to have a fairly low grasp of technology, he has his own Facebook page. He made waves in the Twittersphere by posting a selfie on his Twitter account of him and some young Italian students. He gave them this advice: “Make the future with beauty, with goodness and truth. Have courage. Go forward. Make noise.”
By Sara Watson