He had my attention when he invited women to breastfeed in the Vatican while there were waiting to have their babies baptized. I know, he’s Argentine and they are a little more laid back, but when you consider that there are states here in the US that will arrest women for feeding their babies in public, this is big.
Then, #PopeFrancis organized around #climatechange, brokered the initial talks with Cuba and U.S and now, he used the word “genocide” in reference to the Armenian massacre, which marks its 100th anniversary. I know most people will receive the sound byte, but here is the driving force behind his speech:
“Despite conflicts and tensions, Armenians and Turks have lived long periods of peaceful coexistence in the past and, even in the midst of violence, they have experienced times of solidarity and mutual help. Only in this way will new generations open themselves to a better future and will the sacrifice of so many become seeds of justice and peace.” (Pope Francis, St. Peter’s Basilica, April 12, 2015)
Here’s a link to the whole speech translated into English:
It’s important to note that His Holiness was actually quoting his predecessor and that he was making a larger comment about reconciliation and forgiveness. My interpretation of what he is saying is that in a new era of genocide, all peoples and all world leaders have a spiritual and social obligation to stop the cycle of violence. He has shown himself to be an inclusive peacemaker, not just focusing on conflicts that burden Christians, but all peoples.
Organized religion is the oldest and most absurd rationale in the book for the wholesale slaughter of entire nations. Catholics, let’s not forget, were responsible for the Crusades that converted a large swath of the Middle East by force and wiped out those who would not acquiesce. Francis strikes me as a Pope who knows his history.
The question all this brings up: How do we expect our leaders to express peace? And I ask this question out of baldfaced ignorance, but what does Turkey have to lose by recognizing the 1.5 million people systematically killed 100 years ago? How do we heal if we don’t first acknowledge the wound?
My figurative hat is off to Pope Francis for addressing human rights violations with a sort of innocence and idealism, for taking a good, logical look at climate change and for singing the unpopular song of peace. Now if he could update church policy on creating and harboring pedafilia, also bring the Church’s women’s rights policy into the 21st Century, I’d convert to Catholicism.