Opinion: New pope could mean greater compassion for disadvantaged

Kent Vashaw

Kevin Griffin

Kent VashawA new pope in the Vatican could mean change for the Catholic Church.

Last week, the College of Cardinals announced that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio would replace the still-living Pope Benedict XVI as Pope Francis I. Pope Francis stands out from other popes in many ways and has the potential to accomplish a lot of good through his papacy.

Francis I is a first in many ways. He’s the first pope to take the title “Francis,” naming himself after St. Francis of Assisi. He’s also the first Jesuit and South American pope.

So what could these things mean for Pope Francis’ impact on the Catholic Church?

It is important to note that, in terms of his opinions on social issues, Francis is nothing new for the Catholic Church. He follows a long line of socially conservative popes on values such as gay marriage and contraception.

However, economically, Francis is a different story. His background reveals that he is dedicated to the people. He refused to live in the archbishop’s mansion and ride in a limo. He also chose not to stand on a platform above the surrounding cardinals as he was introduced, CNN reports. Pope Francis is clearly a man with a passion for equality in his relationships with others.

The name he chose reflects this passion. Francis of Assisi, whom he honors with his new title, was an ascetic who lived in poverty and worked tirelessly in order to help those less fortunate than himself.

More than just personally, however, Pope Francis I has advocated for the poor and downtrodden publicly. He has condemned economic inequality all around the world as a serious problem, saying that the unjust distribution of goods is a “social sin,” according to Think Progress.

This is an important message to those who view society as composed of “makers” and “takers.”

Francis emphasizes that all Christians, not just Catholics, should remember that, as Jesus said, “the poor will always be with you,” and to extend compassion and aid to them.

Pope Francis has a chance to truly make an impact on the world. He preaches economic equality and compassion, and seems to practice what he preaches.

With more than one billion Catholics worldwide following his example, who knows what could be accomplished.

Vashaw, a sophomore creative writing and mathematics major from Apex, is an opinion writer.