Pope Francis has captured widespread attention in a way reminiscent of Pope John XXIII. Both share fresh, warm personalities, and inspire us with an earthy faith alive to contemporary social and cultural issues. But just as Pope John ushered in the great reforming Second Vatican Council, it seems Pope Francis is embarking on a major new process to implement the Council reforms more fully. It is Vatican II, Part II.
Coming from Argentina, and keenly aware of the problems of third-world poverty, Pope Francis is calling not just Catholics, but all people of goodwill, to focus on the pressing task of social transformation for a fair world. He is especially alert to the power of international capitalism, and how the ideology of economic liberalism undermines social equity and human rights in favour of powerful interests.
Hence promoting efforts for social justice are high on his agenda. For him, work for social justice and promoting human wellbeing are not optional extras to the Gospel, but at the heart of Christian faith. God identifies intensely with those in distress: “When did we see you hungry, naked, in prison…?”