Some interesting insight on what is now unfolding in Latin America, from Sebastian Gomes at Salt + Light:
Much of the novelty surrounding the person and pontificate of Pope Francis can be attributed to his Argentine, Latin American background. His personal style, his understanding of church matters and his views on global issues are all shaped by that particular cultural experience. The significance of this cannot be overstated. So when Francis returns to his home continent, it’s an opportunity to see and hear him at his best. We witness, not only the shepherd who smells a lot like the sheep, but the sheep who know well the voice of the shepherd. The stars align, in a sense, and we are all witnesses of the spectacle. The result is a breakdown of the cultural and linguistic barriers that sometimes exist when Francis is working in Rome. There, he is still an outsider, as he acknowledged when he was elected: “It seems that my brother Cardinals have gone to the ends of the earth to get [a Bishop of Rome]… But here we are.” But in places like Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay—the three countries on his itinerary this week—Francis is very much at home. Exhibit A: When he addressed a group of religious, priests and seminarians from Ecuador at the Marian Shrine of El Quinche on Wednesday, he looked out over the crowd and said, “I’ve prepared some remarks to share with you, but I don’t feel like reading them.” He proceeded to give a spontaneous, lengthy reflection on the ability to see everything as a total free gift from God, and reminded those present not to forget who they are and where they come from. It’s not the first time (nor the last, I would wager) that Francis has gone off-the-cuff, but in this case the setting and immediate audience certainly affected the dynamic of the address; a synergy was spontaneously and organically created. Interestingly, the consequences of this affect not only his immediate audiences but in fact the whole Church. Though not quite in Argentina (you might think he’s there from the number of his countrymen currently in Bolivia!), Francis is at home; he is comfortable. And the result is that we see and hear some of his clearest communications on the Church and its mission.