March 31, 2013

Tracking Pope Francis: Easter Edition

Pope Francis Good Friday

A few Good Friday images caught my attention in light of the personality, agenda and visual politics surrounding the new Pope. First, given his reputation for humility, the image of Francis prostrating himself on the floor of St. Peter’s serves to emphasize the 180˚ difference between the new Pope and his predecessor.

Sao Paolo Good Friday

Then there is this photo from Sao Paolo. Here’s the caption:

Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, Sao Paulo’s archbishop, center, takes part in a Way of the Cross procession in a low income neighborhood popularly known as “Crackland” during in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, March 29, 2013. Written in the cross are names of homeless killed in the streets of Sao Paulo recently.

A year ago, such a photo in a Good Friday news gallery would have been purely for human interest. Given the Argentine Pope’s emphasis on the poor and indigent, however, all those Cracklands not only emerge as priorities for the Church but might be looked at, also, at least inside the Vatican, as key for the institution’s own resurrection.

Good Friday Haiti

That being the case, there is this photo to consider. Again, the caption:

Worshippers hold up family pictures and passports, as a symbol of their petitions to Jesus Christ, at the end of their pilgrimage to Calvaire Miracle Mount, marking Good Friday in Ganthier, Haiti, March 29, 2013. The Haitian Christians holding up passports, pray to Jesus Christ to provide them travel visas.

If I understand the concept of petition, it’s one thing to pray for conversion, for grace or for the Holy Spirit but a whole different mechanism to put in a word for a visa. What I appreciate about this last photo is how it counterpoints ritual and good intentions with a harder reality of deprivation.

(photo 1: Gregorio Borgia/AP caption: Pope Francis lies down in prayer during the Passion of Christ Mass inside St. Peter’s Basilica, at the Vatican, Friday, March 29, 2013. Pope Francis began the Good Friday service at the Vatican with the Passion of Christ Mass and hours later will go to the ancient Colosseum in Rome for the traditional Way of the Cross procession. photo 2: Andre Penner/AP. photo 3: Dieu Nalio Chery/AP)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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