Argentine Pope Focus of LAII Lecture

March 29, 2013

Join the UNM Latin American & Iberian Institute for "Francis I: First Latin American Pope," an informal presentation and group discussion led by Professor Richard L. Wood on Monday, April 1, 2013, from 12:00-1:00 p.m. at the LAII (801 Yale Blvd NE). Please see the event flyer for reference.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, was recently elected as the 266th head of the Roman Catholic Church. Bergoglio has taken the name Pope Frances I, symbolizing the need for the church to be "of the poor, for the poor." According to Carlos Navarro, editor of UNM's Latin America Data Base, "The election of Jorge Bergoglio, a Jesuit cardinal from Argentina, as the next pope elicited many positive reactions in Mexico. The general consensus was that it was a good sign that Bergoglio came from a Latin American country, and the move by the new pontiff to take the name Pope Francis was also seen as positive because it signaled his commitment to put solidarity with the poor at the top of his agenda. But reactions were mixed on what his election meant for the future of the Catholic Church. There were questions about his age, and uncertainty of the stances he would take regarding other controversial matters" (SourceMex, March 20, 2013).

In short, we now have the first ever Latin American pontiff, a development that deserves some attention. All are invited to participate in Professor Wood's informal conversation about what this might mean for church and society in Latin America.

Professor Wood is an expert in religion, politics, and culture in social movements. Wood is the director of the UNM Southwest Institute on Religion and Civil Society. He has also been named the co-editor of the Cambridge University Press book series "Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion, and Politics." In addition, Wood and Jeannette Aguilar (Director of the Instituto de Opinión Pública of the Universidad Centroamericana in El Salvador) serve as the principal investigators on a major research project focused on understanding the impact of dynamic new forms of Christianity on political culture, civil society, and politics in Central America. The project is coordinated by IUDOP/UCA, which oversees research teams in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.

Wood was recently featured by Benson Hendrix of UNM Communication and Marketing for his work in faith-based community organizing. To read more about Woods' efforts in the field, including his "new project focused in Latin America, and the seismic shift in religious belief in the region in recent years," please see the article "Wood Explores Faith-based Organizing."