An outsider looks at Francis

Juan Cole has this sober and appreciative observation about Pope Francis's trip to Brazil. Unsmitten by papalotry, Cole captures the merits of the trip, perhaps from the perspective of Francis himself.

"There is a lot to like about Pope Francis. He wants to see the church serve the poor instead of primarily the elite (though again, he is no liberation theologian and isn’t interested in practical steps that would change class relationships– he is just interested in doing charity)."

Cole also skewers the U.S. media's take on the visit: "American culture displaces its severe class struggle away from economic issues onto identity politics. We avoid talking about how the working and middle classes are being screwed over by an increasingly wealthy and aristocratic 1% or about how the business classes are destroying the environment of the planet, by obsessing about race and gender instead. So Pope Francis’s tame remarks about silent, inoffensive, celibate gays being all right in the priesthood will generate a lot of comment.  His more challenging remarks, his focus on the needs of the poor and on preserving the environment– the messages well-off Americans need to hear– will be largely ignored in the corporate US media."

Read Cole's whole comment.

Margaret O’Brien Steinfels is a former editor of Commonweal. 

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