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First pope from Global South generates discussion of dogma vs. social outreach

The Catholic church has chosen the first non-European pope in more than 1,200 years — Jorge Mario Bergoglio, former archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The new pope, who took the name Francis, is the first from the Global South — regions of the world including Latin America, Africa, Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, where Christianity is growing rapidly.
“In my opinion, the choice of an Argentine pope reflects the reality that the heart of Christendom is moving from Europe to the Global South,” said Jonathan Hanegan, a member of Buenos Aires Mission in Argentina who works with a new church plant, the Redeemer Church of Christ.
The election of Bergoglio — a member of the Jesuit order, which emphasizes charity — “is not surprising,” Hanegan said, “since Latin America and most of the Global South value relationships and communal living over dogmas and doctrines.”
Tim Archer, who spent 15 years as a missionary in Argentina, said that Latinos may now feel respected by the Vatican, if they view Bergoglio’s selection as “a symbolic rejection of the paternalism of the past.”
Archer coordinates the Spanish-speaking ministries for Texas-based Herald of Truth.
But Howard Norton, a former missionary to Brazil and now vice president of development for Baxter Institute in Honduras, believes that “most men in Latin America gave up on the Roman Catholic Church centuries ago” because of the church’s perceived desire for control and refusal to allow its priests to marry. “Until these two conditions change,” Norton said, “the new pope will make very little difference in the life of Latin America.”
JOIN THE DISCUSSION and read more comments at www.christianchronicle.org/blog. Seach for “Pope Francis.”

Filed under: International

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