What Pope Francis Brings to Latin America
28 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2016 Last revised: 15 Mar 2020
Date Written: March 2016
Since his election in 2013, Pope Francis has embodied an approach centered on personal simplicity, with a stance that is open and welcoming to all, above all to the marginalized and vulnerable: the poor, ethnic minorities, migrants fleeing violence or persecution, or victims of violence or ecological degradation. This paper examines the resonance and possible impact of the Pope’s public stance on five issues: peacemaking and violence; ecology; migration and migrants (internal and international); inequality; and gender and sexuality. Each of these issues has a long history in Latin America (as elsewhere) of public debates, campaigns for changes in law (and resistance to those changes), and mobilization and lobbying by individuals and social movements. Francis’ role is, therefore, best understood less as initiation than as encouragement and promotion. This paper takes the Pope’s visits to the region as grounds for assessing his involvement with the issues and gauging his potential impact. His actual physical presence in the region — where he goes, who he sees, what he does, and how he does it — puts a sharper and more focused spotlight on the issues than is possible with documents alone.
Keywords: Latin America, Pope Francis, Catholic Church, peacemaking, violence, ecology, migration, gender and sexuality, inequality
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