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LA STAMPA

Pope Francis Must Proclaim A Message Of Hope - His Role Is Not A CEO

Reforming a broken Vatican is important, but the true job of the Roman pontiff is to proclaim the Gospel. Is Pope Francis, the Argentine-born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, that man?

Not a manager or a policeman -- but a true man of God
Not a manager or a policeman -- but a true man of God
Andrea Tornielli

-Analysis-

VATICAN CITY - At the end of the conclave, the man who emerged as Pope Francis, the Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, must be able to show hope to a humanity that truly needs to see such a sign. No, the new pope should not just be a manager in charge of restructuring the Roman Curia -- this image emerged from the discussions of the cardinals -- nor a policeman, called to pull the undisciplined back into line.

Western societies are faced with a serious economic crisis, as well as a crisis of values. There are areas of the world that are devastated by war and violence but still remain hidden in the shadows, despite the reach of globalization.

The pope is not the Great Fixer of history called upon to take responsibility for resolving issues by virtue of his natural gifts. He is expected simply to proclaim the Gospel.

The new pope needs to be able to use his own humanity to reveal the merciful face of a God who makes himself near to a hobbled human race: hugging the masses before judging them. This was a need discussed by the College of Cardinals, conscious of the responsibility of the choice they have to make.

The scandals the Roman Curia has faced in the last few years have left scars on the Catholic Church. Over the past week, the Vatican"s Secretary of the State, Tarcisio Bertone, had to listen to many criticisms of his management skills. However, one wonders if the cardinals -- all of them -- have really done all in their power in the recent past to resolve the situation.

More than just reform

But the Curia, even if it were possible to reform it -- making it more agile, functional, transparent and more collegial -- would still risk remaining just a structure of power to prop up a self-referential Church.

Everything in the Church, Curia included, must be reconsidered and seen for just one single goal: proclaiming the Gospel. One of the great teachings of Benedict XVI was that the Church and the pope must never be compared to a company and its CEO. Now, more than ever, the pope must be a true man of God, not an administrator or a marketing guru.

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Coronavirus

Chinese Students' "Absurd" Protest Against COVID Lockdowns: Public Crawling

While street demonstrations have spread in China to protest the strict Zero-COVID regulations, some Chinese university students have taken up public acts of crawling to show what extended harsh lockdowns are doing to their mental state.

​Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling on a soccer pitch

Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling

Shuyue Chen

Since last Friday, the world has watched a wave of street protests have taken place across China as frustration against extended lockdowns reached a boiling point. But even before protesters took to the streets, Chinese university students had begun a public demonstration that challenges and shames the state's zero-COVID rules in a different way: public displays of crawling, as a kind of absurdist expression of their repressed anger under three years of strict pandemic control.

Xin’s heart was beating fast as her knees reached the ground. It was her first time joining the strange scene at the university sports field, so she put on her hat and face mask to cover her identity.

Kneeling down, with her forearms supporting her body from the ground, Xin started crawling with three other girls as a group, within a larger demonstration of other small groups. As they crawled on, she felt the sense of fear and embarrassment start to disappear. It was replaced by a liberating sense of joy, which had been absent in her life as a university student in lockdown for so long.

Yes, crawling in public has become a popular activity among Chinese university students recently. There have been posters and videos of "volunteer crawling" across universities in China. At first, it was for the sake of "fun." Xin, like many who participated, thought it was a "cult-like ritual" in the beginning, but she changed her mind. "You don't care about anything when crawling, not thinking about the reason why, what the consequences are. You just enjoy it."

The reality out there for Chinese university students has been grim. For Xin, her university started daily COVID-19 testing in November, and deliveries, including food, are banned. Apart from the school gate, all exits have been padlock sealed.

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