Well into the 21st century, areas of the world are undergoing transformations. Pope Francis is sure of this. “Today, Bangui becomes the spiritual capital of the world. And the Holy Year of Mercy arrives before time in this land” he said past November 29, while opening, in the heart of Africa, the first of the many holy doors he has wanted to open this year, to enable a concrete experience of the new times and of the new spaces. After the historic embrace with Patriarch Kirill, and the release of the joint statement, on February 12, having thanked “the great Cuban people and their president”, Francis said: “If it continues this way, Cuba will become the capital of unity.”
This twofold, surprising proclamation is not a phrase of consolation. Rather, it’s a
sign with a planetary scope, that Pope Francis reaffirms, on the wake of his predecessors and to which he bears personal witness sincerely, coherency and powerfully.
The picture was clearly traced in the “globally social” encyclical Laudato Si’: there is a huge problem of unbalance in the global world of the 21st century that needs to be solved, first of all by acknowledging it. Hence his words on the “walls”, his condemnation of the “walls.” This condemnation, however, is coupled by a proposal, by a proclamation. Thus comes the proclamation of these capitals. The underlying idea, perfectly illustrated in the case of Cuba, is that today it’s time for parts of the world to stop being problems and turn into resources for the new times. Thus, it is a message of hope and a warning, precisely because this epochal change we have been experiencing in the past years is open to different conclusions, that can be of freedom or of oppression, of growing participation or of surging inequalities and injustice. Thus these two capitals, the first being one of the fronts of Jihadi expansionism, of political Islam and of the resistance against it, as well as of poverty, underdevelopment, and the latter, one of the fronts of the cold war and of the balance of terror, and of economic crisis.
From problems to resources, from Africa to Latin America to accomplish a new balance, a transition towards development that may at the same time safeguard and promote solidarity and freedom.
There are true signs, testimonies and hopes to which the Pope focuses on with great openness, in the awareness that the outcome is not yet known, as in the case of the Middle East. However, what’s most important is to pave the way to the ushering in of new processes, to consolidate visions that could apparently seem prophetic. Thus, rather than speaking of peripheries it would be best to speak of new capitals, of a new vision. The driving force of this vision is spiritual in nature, rooted into the most ancient forms of devotion and thus capable of reaching out even to the man on the street speaking to the population at large, to the political leaders and to the people. This will inevitably lead to new pathways open to everyone. On the first day of spring President Obama and the first lady will visit Cuba. It would have been unthinkable only a short time ago, given the previous cultural, political, and strategic scenarios.