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Signs of the Times: Pope Francis Puts Latin America on the Ecclesial Map

Catholic Theological Union through the Paul Bechtold Library
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C O LU M N : S ig ns o f th e T im e s 84 volume 26 number 1, September 2013 NTR Pope Francis Puts Latin America on the Ecclesial Map by Sheila Curran, R.S.M. Sheila Curran is an Irish Sister of Mercy who is finishing her D.Min. degree in Cross-Cultural Ministry at CTU. She holds an M.A. in Equality Studies from the University College Dublin and an M.A. in Biblical Ministry from CTU. Sheila has ministered in Peru in South America for many years where she has worked closely with Gustavo Gutierrez O.P., in the Instituto Bartolomé de Las Casas, Lima, Peru. From the very beginning, Pope Francis was different. He began his address in such a normal way, greeting the crowd at St. Peter’s Square with a simple “Good af- ternoon.” Before addressing the crowd, he requested that they pray for him. With heads bowed, all who had gathered in the Piazza of St. Peter prayed in silence. Since then, Francis has won the hearts of many Catholics, observers from all religious affiliations, and non-believers. His evident simplicity and humility made an immedi- ate impact around the world. People were quick to note that things were different. This new man brought to mind the much loved John XXIII. This election, more than most of the previous ones, sent a wave of hope through all sectors of the church. In this article I would like to look briefly at Pope Francis’ impact on the Latin American Church. The Latin Ameri- can Church in particular is buzzing with hope at the moment. It would be simplistic to state that this is so simply because a Latino is Pope for the first time in history. We have to look more closely at the recent history of the church in Latin America to understand why hope is buoyant just now in the Christian communities there. People there feel so delighted simply because the new man understands what they are all about. After all, Cardinal Bergo- glio was the head of the redaction committee that produced the final document from the fifth general assembly

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