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Missionary in Argentina shares thoughts on first Global South pope


The Catholic church has chosen the first non-European pope in more than 1,200 years — Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The new pope 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. (See our recent series on Churches of Christ in the Global South.)
Jonathan Hanegan, a member of Buenos Aires Mission, shares his thoughts on the selection of Bergoglio, who will be called Pope Francis. Hanegan, who previously served in Venezuela, works with a new church plant, the Redeemer Church of Christ, and the Instituto Bíblico de las Iglesias de Cristo de Argentina.


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. The transition between Joseph Ratzinger (academic theologian) and Jorge Bergoglio (a Jesuit pastor) is not surprising since Latin America and most of the Global South value relationships and communal living over dogmas and doctrines.
The Catholic church, Reformed and non-denominational churches have lost a lot of credibility in the public life in Argentina. Nevertheless, the Catholic church maintains much of its influence. Many young people in Buenos Aires participate in youth programs and evangelistic efforts throughout the country. Even more, people in our country are being served through social outreach programs of the Catholic church.
All people who profess to be God’s children in Argentina face several unique challenges:
1). The need for an articulate and intellectual defense of the Christian faith
2). The need for a life that gives testimony to the veracity of faith in Christ
3). True communal living with a mission that is, as Francis Schaeffer called it, the ultimate apologetic.
In terms of the relationship of the Churches of Christ in Argentina with the Catholic church, I think we should applaud their work for the poor of our nation and even imitate some of their programs while keeping our eyes on Christ Jesus as we strive to be God’s chosen people on his mission, according to the authority of God’s revealed Word.

We would love additional comments, especially from Christians living in the Global South. What does the selection of a Global South pope mean to you? What impact might this have on Churches of Christ in the Global South — especially Latin America?

Buenos Aires Mission team members, from left, Pedro Soto, Elina Ferrarese, Jonathan Hanegan, Cardenys Rodríguez and Jairo and Johanna Díaz. (Photo via www.buenosairesmission.com)


  • Feedback
    …what fellowship has light with darkness? 2 Corth 6:14

    Since when has OCU aligned itself with the catholic church?!?!

    John Crawley
    March, 14 2013
    Bergoglio�s attitude toward other underdogs could be remarkably cruel. When Argentina legalized gay marriage,the objection of the Catholic hierarchy, which considers homosexuality a sin, wasn�t surprising. But it wasn�t enough for Bergoglio to criticize the law; he felt compelled to demonize homosexuals in the process�calling gay unions �a scheme to destroy God�s plan� and �a dire anthropological throwback.� In that sense he was just echoing the homophobia of his boss, the Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, who in 2008 had asserted that saving humanity from homosexuals was as urgent as saving the rain forests from lumberjacks. But there was something especially hateful, something that moved beyond doctrinal defense into bald bigotry, about the way Bergoglio lashed out.
    Read more: http://world.time.com/2013/03/13/why-the-first-latin-american-pope-inspires-less-hope-than-we-hoped/#ixzz2NVFnZpw9
    Ken Kemp
    March, 14 2013
    I think that Latinos will feel much more respected by the Vatican through this choice. It some ways, it is a symbolic rejection of the paternalism of the past.
    In the long run, I think this pope’s historical significance will come more from his status as a Jesuit. He marked that with his opening words, asking for prayers before blessing the people.
    His health will also be a question. He seems strong enough, but you wonder if having one lung won’t take a toll on him. Will he be a hardy traveler like John Paul II or more of a stay-at-home pope like Benedict?
    Tim Archer
    March, 14 2013
    Tim: Thanks for the comment. For those of you who don’t know Tim, he spent 15 years as a missionary in Argentina and now coordinates the Spanish-speaking ministries of Herald of Truth, an Abilene, Texas-based ministry.
    Erik Tryggestad
    March, 14 2013
    I think the cardinals’ decision to pick a Pope from the Southern Hemisphere was a wise thing to so. Similarly, Francis’ care for the poor and calls for social justice in the realm of poverty is sorely needed. It is a shame, though, that they picked someone who is so traditionally minded.
    I wouldn’t be so quick to emphasize the academic to pastor switch, however. The Jesuits are a highly intellectual order. They require a lot of education for novitiates.
    Josh J
    March, 15 2013
    It is relevant that the Catholic Church finally turns south to Latin America. This vast territory where they have been masters and lords for 500 years and it represents almost 600 million souls who was imposed a gospel of the cross and the military boot. Not coincidentally, a Jesuit, is now head of Rome. Remember that Ignatius of Loyola, was a supporter of the Inquisition and the conversion of Native Americans by force). Latin America represents not only souls to Rome, is an important source of monetary resources and influence. We urge the churches of Christ do more domestic missions in these countries, raising national leaders, churches self-financed that can carrying the gospel to this continent. Compared to Europe and U.S., latinamerican countries traditional values ??are still important to the family.
    Omar Corpus
    March, 15 2013
    Most men in Latin America gave up on the Roman Catholic Church centuries ago for two reasons. First, the RCC as an institution has seemed to evidence a greater desire for political power and control than for the tedious task of teaching their members how to live moral and ethical lives. Second, Latin American men have little confidence in a hierarchy that denies its clergy the right to marry and have children. Their opinion is that great numbers of the clergy are either strange, dishonest, or immoral. Until these two conditions change, the new Pope will make very little difference in the life of Latin America. Furthermore, Latin America will continue to suffer from poverty, disease, illiteracy, and government corruption.
    Howard W. Norton
    March, 15 2013
    I lived in Southern Argentina for 3 years and admired the strong family units I witnessed, resulting from the Catholic Church I assume. Meals were a family affair, children were not eating their meal in front of a TV but all sat around the table. We could learn a lot from their concern about the family unit. There are other problems though that they seem to ignore and it appears perhaps that this man will bring them to light and act accordingly.
    Odell Strickland
    March, 16 2013
    Mr. Kemp’s comment above is lifted straight from a Time article, to which he provides a link. Wasn’t Bergoglio absolutely correct in condemning homosexuality and homosexual “marriages”? The ancient scriptures called homosexuality an abomination. There is no room in the Lord’s church for a doctrine which approves of homosexuality or homosexual unions of whatever name.
    I am encouraged by Bergoglio’s humility and statements about the absolute need for catholic clerics to focus on the cross. He said that no matter what their station, unless they focus on the cross they are not disciples of the Lord. Amen! We need to pray for this man who leads over a billion people, and tomorrow I will preach on that.
    Joseph Edwards
    March, 16 2013
    Nice to see a pope from the francisco order. St.Frances was a remarkable man.We need role models like him,
    howard hulett
    March, 16 2013
    The comment about “most men in Latin America” must be by someone who was not standing in a public square anywhere on the continent when the white smoke gushed forth (I think with the assistance of some Hollywood equipment). Most men cared and were thrilled. Yes…religion in general is often regarded as something un-macho all over Latin America. But that kind of disregard … just denies reality and will certainly not help us understand the context for mission opportunities south of the Rio Grande.
    April, 12 2013

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