|Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis I|
The latest evidence of how even the United States, which remains significantly more religious that western Europe, is involved in this shift comes from data collected by sociologists from the University of California, Berkeley, and Duke University, which according to a news posting in the Huffington Post (here) shows that in the U.S., "the number of people who do not consider themselves part of an organized religion has jumped dramatically in recent years." This is not even news anymore, but the election of Pope Francis I does provide further evidence concerning just how far the demographic shift southward has gone. For Americans, his election also requires a reorienting of our usual social-political categories of liberal and conservative. From what's been published thus far, it appears that Francis I is very liberal on social justice issues having to do with capitalism and the poor and painfully conservative on the question of homosexuality. Catholicism frequently has a deep concern for social justice, and we can only wonder how long it will be until the Catholic Church finally learns to extend that heart to all of God's children.