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Yet he never sought it -- Forbes says Pope Francis is 4th most powerful man in the world

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 31st, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Forbes Magazine has listed Pope Francis as the 4th most powerful person in the world, just behind the leaders of Russia, the USA, and China. With the election of new cardinals coming soon, Pope Francis' power will increase further, ironic for one man who has never sought it.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Forbes has listed Pope Francis as the 4th most powerful man in the world. He falls behind President Putin of Russia in first, President Obama in second, and Xi Jinping of China.

Behind him is Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany in fifth place. She is considered the world's most powerful woman.

The position is fitting for the world's last true emperor, for that is literally what popes are. Although no pontiff in recent history has ever exercised the full scope of imperial power in the secular realm, popes have at various times been among the most powerful people on the planet, some with the power of life and death over millions.

Today, Pope Francis occupies a position of power that makes billions stop and listen. When the Holy Father speaks, the world pays attention, and even more so coming from Francis.

What makes the ranking so ironic is that Pope Francis never sought such power. Until his election as pontiff, he cooked his own meals, cooked for others, rode public transportation to work, and eschewed finery. Even now, he remains as humble as his office will permit. He shuns unimportant functions whose only purpose is ceremonial or prideful.

Likewise, he is cracking the whip, enforcing a new discipline on the clergy, compelling them by his example and influence to become servants of the poor, which is wholly consistent with the mission of Christ.

Pope Francis has referred to "power as service."

That power will soon increase. In February, Pope Francis will preside over the election of 16 new Cardinals of the Church. Before that, he will meet with all of the Cardinals in Rome to discuss reforms that he is seeking within the Church. He will also meet repeatedly with a special panel of prelates who are tasked with developing a comprehensive series of reforms for the Church. The new cardinals will be chosen based in part on their expected conformity to the pending reforms. This is one way a pontiff builds his legacy into the fabric of the Church, and serves to increase his power.

Fortunately, we are honored to see that Pope Francis is genuinely humble and uses his power to serve the poor. He has sparked a renewal of interest in the Church and a renewal of faith among the people. Importantly, he is also refocusing the faith on issues of compassion, perhaps the most important mission tasked to the Church founded by Christ.

The ranking is not entirely subjective. Forbes used a special criteria that included whether the person actually holds and uses real power, the number of people over which they have control, and if they have power in "multiple spheres."


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