The Bishop of Lund, Antje Jackelen, won 55.9% of the votes from the 324-strong ecclesiastical college and will replace the current archbishop Anders Wejryd. Jackelen is 58 years old and was ordained in 1980. She became a Doctor of Theology at Lund University in 1999. Jackelen is the third woman to be a bishop in the Church of Sweden, and the first to become presiding bishop. Most of her theological work has been at the junction of religion and science.
When he ran against George W. Bush in 2004, John Kerry was faulted for knowing too much and having complex opinions. He was aware of "nuance", while George W. Bush, of course, was not. Nuance can work, however, if there are people around who can grasp what's happening.
John Kerry is not the kind of person who says things off the top of his head. He's not the kind to "wonder aloud" at press conferences. When he said that Assad of Syria could avoid a strike by surrendering his chemical weapons, it was absolutely intentional.
He quickly added that Assad would never give up all his chemical weapons. Therefore, the only possible way out of the crisis wouldn't happen. By rejecting his own idea, Kerry avoided his trial balloon being seen as an actual formal offer. (Most likely, however, he knew Russia would accept the deal before he even floated it.)
The Russians are interested because they are a little uneasy at being on the wrong side of any lines drawn in the sand. Would you want to cast your lot with Syria and Iran? They are also concerned about chemical weapons being used in Chechnya and by the ethnic minorities within Russia. Plus, in pushing the deal, Putin gets to appear progressive on the world stage.
Secretary Clinton and President Obama are no doubt right that the serious threat of military force made the offer look attractive to Syria and Russia. This seems obvious on its face, but many will probably disagree.
The whole thing could yet unravel, but probably not. It's too good a deal for everyone concerned. The United States and France make their point, chemical weapons are still verboten, Assad keeps his job (at least temporarily), and Russia moves toward a solution of its own problem.
Pope Francis on Wednesday condemned as "slave labour" the conditions for hundreds of workers killed in a factory collapse in Bangladesh and urged political leaders to fight unemployment in a sweeping critique of "selfish profit".
The pope said he had been particularly struck by a headline saying workers at the factory near Dhaka were being paid just 38 euros ($50) a month.
"This is called slave labour!" the pope was quoted by Vatican radio as saying in his homily at a private mass in his residence to mark May Day.
Sure, John Paul II and Benedict both tried to suppress it, even while agreeing with its major tenet, "the preferential option for the poor." Despite this ambivalent resistance from the head office, liberation theology continues to influence the South American church in important ways.
The critique of liberation theology is that it relied on Marxist social analysis. Some liberation theology was based in Marxism, but most was not. You don't need a Marxist base in order to argue for Christian solidarity with the poor. Why fiddle with Marx when you have the Lord Jesus on your side?
South Americans generally don't fuss over the nuances of theology like the Europeans do. Rather than parse words, they are content with supporting human rights and trying to help the poor, activities not unique to liberation theology, but certainly supported by it. Jessica Weiss of the Associated Press (AP) reports:
Yet much of the movement remained, practiced by thousands of grassroots "base communities" working out of local parishes across the hemisphere, nurtured by nuns, priests and a few bishops who put freedom from hunger, poverty and social injustice at the heart of the Church's spiritual mission.
In fact, liberation theology is broad enough and entrenched enough that it has various strands within it. Msgr. Gregorio Rosa Chavez, the auxiliary bishop of San Salvador, notes that "there are many theologies of liberation". He names one the pastoral variety of Pope Francis, which he calls the "theology of the foot," because it walks with the people. Then, there is the university variety, which Rosa Chavez calls "theology of the desk."
These are still the opening days of Francis' papacy, and no sure direction can yet be discerned. For the time being, however, many Latin Americans are looking to the new pope with hope that ministry to and for the poor will take center stage.
Not yet the 1st. In fact, he will never be Pope Francis 1 in his lifetime. Only when there is a second do they go back and rename the first.
Nevertheless, it is significant that he chose the name Francis. According to Vatican deputy spokesman Thomas Rosica, he chose it in honor of St. Francis of Assisi because he was a "lover of the poor". (Also, Francis may also have given a slight nod to St. Francis Xavier, co-founder of the Jesuit order--it was, perhaps, a two-fer.)
I was somewhat surprised to learn that there had never before been a Jesuit pope--there has been some resistance to the idea, I've since found out--and surprised also there had never been one named Francis. St. Francis of Assisi lived 800 years ago. Given the popularity of the saint, one might have thought someone would have taken that name before now.
The most hopeful sign is that Pope Francis truly does seem to be a humble person who understands, advocates for, and loves the poor. What's not to like about his cooking his own food and taking public transportation to work? He has the reputation of making poverty issues front and center.
"Cardinal Bergoglio had a special place in his heart and his ministry for the poor, for the disenfranchised, for those living on the fringes and facing injustice," Rosica said.
So that's to the good. It appears he will be supporting the traditional Roman position on social issues, however. His record on homosexuals is said to be "reactionary" and "medieval." On the other hand, he once visited an AIDS hospital and washed the feet of 12 AIDS victims.
There will no doubt be further inquiry into then Father Bergoglio's relationship to the military junta that ruled Argentina in the late 70's and early 80's when he was head of a Jesuit seminary.
How he handled the clergy sex abuse scandal will almost certainly also come under scrutiny. Argentina has largely escaped the headlines on that issue, at least so far. The Boston Globe reported the case of Archbishop Edgardo Storni of Santa Fe who resigned on Oct. 1, 2002, after a book accused him of abusing at least 47 young seminarians. There is no reason to believe then Archbishop Bergoglio had any connection to that case, and there have been no other reports to this point.
Francis' most significant "first" is that he is the very first Pope to come from a nation that was not once part of the Roman Empire. In the first millenium, there were a few Popes from outside Europe, but none who have ever come from a country or region not once governed by Rome.
Talk about the "grand sweep" of history. This is huge, and truly historic. Christianity, especially Roman Catholicism, was once an almost exclusively European religion. The "break-out" from Europe in choosing a Pope is a recognition of what has been true for some time now, i.e. that the balance of world Christianity is shifting south, and, in this case, to the Americas, to wit: He's an American!
Dozens of attacks on US embassies have taken place over the past 30 years. The attack at Benghazi has the distinction of being the one purely political football in the whole batch.
The opposition's hook was that initial reports were later changed as new information became available. Their critique basically boiled down to the administration not getting hysterical enough fast enough. Even though the President called the attack an "act of terror" the day after the incident, he's to be faulted for not actually using the word "terrorist"--a distinction without a difference if ever there was one.
Yesterday, the administration's critics had their chance. The Secretary of State met with Congressional committees to testify on Benghazi. With HIllary's recent health problem, dubbed "Benghazi flu" by some, they even had an extra month to prepare.
The opposition hoped to tarnish the administration, and, as the run-up to 2016 begins, take Secretary Clinton down a notch as well. They failed miserably. The Secretary of State was calm and professional, flicking off her opponent's barbs with, at times, tact and polish, and, at other times, righteous anger.
Meanwhile, yet another poll shows HIllary Clinton to be the most popular political figure in the United States.