The Evolving Role of the Pope

During the past few weeks, the world has been focused on Vatican City as 155 Cardinals selected Jorge Bergaglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, as the next Pope and leader of more than one billion Catholics around the world. There has been much debate and conjecture as to what lies ahead for the Catholic Church and if the organization can redeem its reputation after several years of challenges.

The primary responsibility of the new Pope will be, as it has been for hundreds of years, to run the Catholic Church, oversee the Bishops who are accountable for their respective regions and diocese and to be the spiritual leader for Catholics worldwide. But if Pope Francis is to be successful, and if he desires to lead them into a 21st Century advancement, he will have to redefine his role as well as role of the Catholic Church worldwide.

The Pope may find himself in the position of immediately addressing the concerns of the constituents and faithful followers of the Catholic Church especially if the church is going to advance beyond its immediate concern; restoring the integrity of the church and its leadership from the position of the Pope down to the local priest.  Recently one of the networks polled a group of faithful Catholics and asked them questions.  Their responses were concerns from structure to dated policies and even challenges with trust in certain areas.  For many years now good priests have been affected because of the criminal actions of some.

One of the obstacles the Pope may find is that he has to bridge the language barrier and conviction barrier between traditional minded followers and 21st Century followers in today’s world. The values and the methods of Christ do not change, but the question that may arise in today’s world is: are the methods as sacred as the message? The balance of faith is trust. He has to balance trust in order to balance faith.

In upgrading Pope Francis role because of present challenges, he may find himself to be more than a spiritual leader and administrator of the largest religious organization in the world. Problem solving has become an inherited responsibility. Coming up with plans to restore the Catholics faith and the church and reviving its attendance as well as making the organization innovative and more relevant in a changing world. Make no mistake; the Catholic Church has a lot of power and influence. However, the question is can it use untapped and unused influences to bring her back to the full strength and respect of her power? For example, in looking at the major tragedies and natural disasters over the past several years would it have been helpful if the Catholic Church took a leading role to the world’s challenges n these disasters? In respect to the fact that the Catholic Church is not the problem-solver of the world, it can be a very bright light for mutual parties to see how to get through dark days.

The Pope being the leader of such organization may have to reestablish the church on the world’s political scene in areas of tragedy as an image of goodness structure and direction. He may also have to align the church with other like-minded organizations in order to harness the full strength of the Vatican for the benefit of mankind.

We pray Pope Francis is successful. If he is successful, he will have created a dynamic, relevant and meaningful organization that has the fully restored respect of its constituents and leadership that can sustain and build the church into an affective, efficient and significant entity in today’s world.


An Appetite for Spirituality

It’s no secret that people are obsessed with food. In fact, our lives revolve around food. When we are making plans to see friends, it’s usually for dinner or lunch. We get popcorn at the movies and have a hotdog at the ballpark. Food has become part of our routine and, in many ways, is has become an activity in and of itself as opposed to a source of energy to sustain our bodies.

Of all the issues caused by our overindulgence in food, obesity is probably the most talked-about problem. There are countless articles about how we, as a society, are becoming overweight and all of the health risks that we are subjecting ourselves to because of our inability to control our eating. There are an infinite number of diets and diet programs being marketed to us everyday, aimed at making us feel that losing weight is easy – as long as we are willing to buy the product or pay for the program.

What doesn’t get much attention are the non-physical aspects of eating. Specifically, the high degree with which we intertwine our lives with food and the impact that has on us mentally and spiritually.

How many times have you eaten when you are not hungry? Was it because the clock said it was time for lunch or because you walked by a Starbucks and thought it would be relaxing to have a pastry and cup of coffee? Perhaps you were sitting in front of the television and instinctively picked-up a bag of potato chips and just started eating them? All of us either do this or have done this at some point in our lives. What most people fail to realize is that when we do this, we are letting the body control the mind and the spirit, instead of the reverse.

Even if you are not overweight and you are in good health, making food a central theme in your life has a negative impact on your mental and spiritual wellbeing. It distracts us from what we should be doing and impairs our ability to focus. It disempowers our mind by letting short-term desires dictate our actions.

It has been often said that people are their sharpest when they are hungry. This is because food sidetracks our bodies and our brains. While we obviously have to eat to sustain ourselves, it is crucial to let the mind control the body and not let the body control the mind. And if the mind is in control, one’s spirituality will be able to flourish.

Many experts would argue that the constant attention we give to eating is our way of trying to satisfy an appetite for something other than food – something that is missing in our lives. Food offers us comfort and distracts us from recognizing the void and, as a result, we stop trying to fill that void. By disconnecting from our emotional attachment to food, we can see more clearly what, exactly is missing from our lives and work towards fulfilling that need.

I would encourage you to assess your relationship with food, and your eating habits, both for your physical health as well as your spiritual and emotional wellbeing. Talk with your doctor about undertaking some sort of a “cleansing” that will enable you to reset your body and restore balance and focus in your life.