"No one can stop me from working for migrants' rights, because no one is above my own conscience," said Mexican Catholic priest Alejandro Solalinde.
“The rivalry between our countries is over: if the pope is Argentine then God is Brazilian,” Francis joked when journalists asked him why he was so beloved in this country, where millions came out to see him, despite the historic football rivalry between South America’s two giants.
Pope Francis' first overseas trip, to Brazil, the country with the largest number of Catholics in the world, was marked with setbacks, disorganisation and lack of infrastructure for an event that brought half a million pilgrims to the city of Rio de Janeiro.
Human rights groups are calling for the Committee on the Rights of the Child to bring the Mexican state to account, as it has done in other countries, for failing to investigate widespread reports of sexual abuse of minors in Catholic institutions.
The Catholic Church has become sclerotic and is afraid of facing the issues of post-modernity, Brazilian theologian Frei Betto says, although he hopes that Francis, the first Latin American pope, will inspire it to renew its emphasis on social issues and the defence of the poor.
Conservative sectors in Nicaragua have launched an offensive against the Comprehensive Law Against Violence Toward Women, seeking amendments including an obligation for women victims to negotiate with their abusers, human rights groups reported.
For homeless youth, life on the streets is brutal. They experience sky-high rates of mental health problems, substance abuse and sexual assault. But despite the fact that it costs just under 6,000 U.S. dollars to permanently end homelessness for one youth, too little is being done to help them.
Jorge Bergoglio begins his papacy as Francis I facing the challenge of a Catholic Church caught up in a burdensome contradiction with modern society, because of its negative attitude to sexuality and women.
The new pope’s choice of the name Francis, to honour the Catholic Church’s patron saint of animals and the environment, has awakened the hopes of ecologists and others who are concerned about rampant consumerism and the deterioration of the planet.
Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff, a leading exponent of liberation theology, the progressive current in the Latin American Catholic Church, does not believe reports that depict the new Pope Francis as collaborating with Argentina’s 1976-1983 dictatorship.
Argentine archbishop Jorge Bergoglio was selected as pope at a time when the Roman Catholic Church in this South American country is facing a rebellion by priests and laypersons who reject the role of the church leadership during the 1976-1983 dictatorship and the lack of reparations for past omissions and complicities.
No one would expect a Pope elected by an extremely conservative conclave to implement revolutionary reforms within the Catholic Church. Still, many see in the newly elected Pope Francis some signs of change.
The selection of a Latin American pope, who is known for his austere lifestyle and his work with the poor, has created a stir among Catholics in the region, who are confident that Pope Francis will help bolster the Vatican’s tarnished reputation.
As the Roman Catholic Church gets ready for the conclave that will select a new pope, activists and victims worldwide are stepping up their efforts to keep cardinals directly or indirectly involved in cases of paedophilia from participating in the papal election process.
The only difference the resignation of Benedict XVI as head of the Catholic Church will make in Brazil will be the name changes needed on posters advertising his coming to this city in July for World Youth Day, jokes Frei Betto.