Hunger_in_Vatican_CityOn July 4, 2017, Pope Francis made a vibrant statement regarding the world’s suffering and hungry. He declared world hunger to be a direct result of nothing less than indifference and selfishness. Further, he saw the effects of these same problems in his immediate surroundings—there is hunger in Vatican City. Since the beginning of his service, Pope Francis has made addressing poverty, hunger and homelessness some of the most important goals for the Catholic Church in hopes to lead by example.

Due largely to the Catholic Church’s presence in the world’s smallest country, many of the poor and needy draw near to the Vatican. As the impoverished seek refuge, hunger is becoming a bigger problem for the Church to address. With Pope Francis at the helm of the Vatican’s efforts, the needy are being tended to with a vigorous priority.

Pope Francis has personally addressed hunger by appealing to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and pointing out the “uneven distribution of resources and the lack of agricultural development.” The Vatican has sponsored several refugees and their families facing the challenges of displacement, especially hunger. Further, the rest of Europe’s Catholic community has been encouraged to follow suit in accepting, housing and aiding those seeking refuge.

Contrary to tradition, Pope Francis insists on mobilizing the church by sending out the Vatican’s almoner. In the past, the almoner waits for letters from the poor for guidance on how to meet needs. However, Polish Archbishop Konrad Krajewski has taken to the streets of Vatican City in attempts to help the poor and hungry. Krajewski’s method aligns with the rumors of Pope Francis instructing him to “sell his desk” since he would not be needing it.

One of the more controversial techniques to fight hunger in Vatican City came with a corporate lease of a Vatican building to McDonald’s in 2016. While some members of the Church and the Catholic community responded with alternative uses of the building, like housing the homeless, that attitude has since shifted as McDonald’s promised to hand out over 1,000 meals to the poor in their first six months of operations.

The 2030 Development Agenda of the U.N. reflects this same commitment of the Catholic Church. The fight for universal food security cannot be put off and Pope Francis recognizes that it is a demanding task. However, intentions to provide for everyone are not enough. Rather, people need to make a commitment to their country to increase the level of nutrition, to improve agricultural operations, to improve living conditions of rural communities and promote effective distribution of resources like food supplies. When a country is unable to provide for its people, then intergovernmental institutions need to step in. As Pope Francis said in his July 4 address, every person has a right to be free from poverty and hunger. Further, it is the duty of the entire human family to intervene and actually do something about it.

Taylor Elkins

Photo: Flickr;

“Just like Pope John Paul II was in 1995, Pope Francis has been named Time’s ‘Person of the Year’ for presenting the Church’s ‘timeless truths’ to today’s world. In all that he does, through his humble ways and simple lifestyle, Pope Francis clearly radiates the joy that comes from loving God and caring for his people.  There could be no finer choice for ‘Person of the Year.'” – Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York

 Pope Francis has been named Time’s Person of the Year for 2013. The popular magazine states that in order to gain this title a person must cast a strong influence over the world. It is clear that he has done this. His humility and selfless acts of kindness has renewed some faith back in to the Catholic Church. Catholics and non-Catholics have started to see the Pope in a different light. Aptly named “The Peoples Pope,” Pope Francis is no stranger to the poor. He states,  “Many of you have been stripped by this savage world,”  “[It] does not give employment [and it] does not care if there are children dying of hunger.”
“The times talk to us of so much poverty in the world and this is a scandal. Poverty in the world is a scandal. In a world where there is so much wealth, so many resources to feed everyone, it is unfathomable that there are so many hungry children, that there are so many children without an education, so many poor persons. Poverty today is a cry.”
Pope Francis urges world leaders for the inequality gap between the rich and poor to be closed. Until this is met Francis will continue to lead by example. He gathers to hear stories from Syrian refugees and eats with the poor. He washes the feet of juvenile delinquents and blesses people by the handful. His frugal lifestyle and refusal to live in luxury shows his love and devotion for the sick and the suffering. He believes that if humility is shown through his hands, others will follow suit.– Amy Robinson

Sources: BBC, NBC News, RT, CNN
Photo: Business Insider

Forbes Magazine has released its annual “World’s Most Powerful People” list, ranking the leaders of nations, intergovernmental agencies and businesses in relation to global influence. In the year 2013, the fourth most influential person in the world is the newly elected leader of the Roman Catholic Church, who has been drawing a lot of positive attention to the office.

As the leader of a church membership of over 1 billion people, Pope Francis has been dedicated to taking the papacy to the poor and the downtrodden. In Latin America, he has recently been nicknamed the Slum Pope because of his frequent visits to the more dangerous and impoverished neighborhoods in the region. His visits to the more destitute areas have given hope that the Catholic Church will do more to help those who cannot help themselves.

After his election in March, Pope Francis called for the church and its followers to return to helping the poor. In the papal tradition of taking on a new name after election, he purposely chose the name of Francis, after Saint Francis d’Assisi. The saint is widely known and recognized as the son of a wealthy man who left his riches to help the poor as a member of the clergy. In Pope Francis’ speeches, he has often championed the themes of poverty, hope and social justice which are the interests of the poor. Helping the poor is the constant theme of his papacy which has been warmly received wherever he has visited.

In his short ministry, he has visited the Italian Island of Lampedusa which is the frequent destination of fleeing African Immigrants seeking better economic and social opportunities in Europe. Every year many Africans unsuccessfully embark to the island with the hopes of ending their poverty but, instead, drown in the Mediterranean before reaching their goal. In his visit to the island, the Pope wept for those that had died and suggested repurposing church resources to accommodate African migrants.

As one of the most admired figures in the world, the Pope has always had a tremendous impact on not only his religious followers but leaders of nations across the world. The Pope is trying to use his office as a worldwide leader to be an advocate for improving the livelihood of the poor. His admirable example is one that should be emulated by leaders throughout the world.

– Travis Whinery

Sources: CNN, CNN Blog, Time, BBC News, Fox News, Forbes
Photo: The Times

New Pope is to be Elected on March 12th
Cardinals are convening in preparation for March 12th, the day the new pope is to be elected. However, this date is contingent upon if the 115 voting cardinals can settle debates they are having on issues plaguing the Roman Catholic Church. While cardinals have vowed secrecy, discussions between them have supposedly been leaked to Italian newspapers. These newspapers report that the Vatican bank and reformation of the Vatican’s bureaucracy are large issues being debated.

Thus, until agreements are made and debates are settled, the cardinals may have to vote time and time again. Why? Well, Papal elections require a two-thirds majority vote. Voting is done in secrecy and only when a two-thirds majority has been reached has a new pope been elected. The election of a new pope is signaled to the rest of the world through the appearance of white smoke from burnt ballots from the Sistine Chapel.

In 2005, the last time a pope was elected, elections took three days. How many days this election will take will be closely monitored, as it “is being seen as a reflection of the many challenges facing the Church,” according to BBC News. One of these challenges may have to deal with whether or not to elect an African pope. With more new members to the Church coming from African than European nations, the direction the Church takes for the future is very important and this direction will be determined by the pope that the cardinals choose. According to The New York Times, the cardinals seem to be looking for a pope that has the charisma of Pope John Paul II and the grit of Pope Rambo I. Whether a pope with these characteristics can be found and whether he will be the answer to the Church’s challenges will be determined soon.

– Angela Hooks

Sources: BBC, NY Times
Photo: BBC


Over half of the 118 cardinals that will soon pick the new Pope are from European nations, hinting that the majority of the world’s Catholic members hail from European nations.

Yet, worldwide demographic trends show a different picture.  According to the CNN Belief Blog, growth of the Catholic population in European nations is practically stagnant. Whereas, Africa is seeing significant membership growth to the Roman Catholic Church. This increase in new membership in African countries creates a stronger voice for Catholicism outside of Europe, making it seem as if the next Pope could be African.

Posters have even been spotted in Rome endorsing a top African Pope contender, Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana. Cardinal Turkson seems to be the most ideal and viable papal candidate coming out of Africa because of his age (by Vatican standards, being 64 is young), as well as the pastoral and Vatican exposure he has from running an archdiocese and being appointed by Pope Benedict to head the Council for Justice and Peace.

But should geographic background even be a part of the decision to find the next Pope? Reverend Emmanuel Katongole, a Ugandan Catholic priest, believes that “choosing the next Pope is an issue that must rise above geographic borders” because geography should theoretically have nothing to do with faith or loyalty to the Church.

Those 118 cardinals that will pick the Pope from amongst themselves should be basing their decisions on who they could see in that chair, leading the Roman Catholic Church. This seems to be the focus of the top ranking officials within the church who are focused on having a global vision. According to Bishop Thomas Paprocki, “The Pope has to be the visible shepherd of 1 billion Catholics in the world,” thus the nationality of the Pope is not the number one concern.

In the next 10 days, the cardinals will meet and the next Pope of the Roman Catholic Church will be chosen. Yet, the discussion surrounding whether or not the next Pope will be African shows a changing, more open, world.

– Angela Hooks

Sources: CNN Belief Blog, Voice of America, African Celebrities
Photo: Voice of America