What I would like to show the new pope

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Sometimes you know you have an image when you’re looking through the viewfinder.  You just know.

On March 13, Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope by the papal conclave. Jorge had been the cardinal of Argentina since 2001. Before that he had served as Archbishop in Buenos Aires.

The seat of his power was The Metropolitan Cathedral in Buenos Aires. Located just across Plaza de Mayo from The Pink House, the cathedral was busy with people several days later when Jorge was installed as the 266th pope.

The first Jesuit to get the nod, the first pope from the Americas and the first pope from the southern hemisphere, thousands and thousands of people flooded the plaza to watch the installment of Jorge as Pope Francis via big screen television.

As I circled the plaza, I couldn’t help but notice the sheer numbers of the people. I’ve been in the plaza at 2am when there was nobody around as well as in the late Argentine afternoon when thousands were there protesting some act government action.

But this was different. There were hundreds of thousands of people crammed into a space the size of a medium city block. Camera crews were everywhere, photographers were crawling all over like maggots on a fresh deer kill.

Always looking for the shot that no one else takes, I ignored everything that the news camera had trained their lenses on. I didn’t want shots of the vendors hawking plastic Pope Francis dolls or laser printed calendars showing the new pontiff.

I wanted something that captured the meaning of the morning. Something that would show to people what it was like to be there.

Grabbing a few shots of spectators and cops just to get the gear dialed in, I started wandering around the plaza. With my back to the big screens, I was staring into the faces of people who looked like they had just seen Jesus up there on the 24′ television.

Stepping over some television stations snakelike cables, I saw them. I can’t say if I saw him or her first – it was an image that locked into my brain and all I can say is that I saw them Two together locked into an embrace as though they were one.

The two of them. Silent and staring in the middle of this mass of humanity who came to worship the humble pope.

Turning the camera quickly on them, I squeezed off my standard three shots before disappearing into the crowd.

There was something about the man’s look of utter defeat and hopelessness that stayed in my mind. As people all around him celebrated the elevation of a priest who was known for helping the poor, people forgot all about the homeless setting in their midst. I wander if I was alone in seeing this irony.

While bankers, lawyers and religious people all turned towards the big screen, this man was left alone with his child. I don’t know what he was thinking. I don”t care.

What pisses me off is that the bankers, lawyers and religious people – all the people that Jesus condemned – were caught up and forgot his dashed hopes and dreams as they watched the pomp and ritual.

Maybe someone in the crowd besides me saw the man. Maybe there was one in the crowd that saw the hypocrisy being carried out privately in public

Maybe one day I’ll have the chance to meet Jorge and I’ll show him this photo. This photo that speaks volumes about how people can ignore Jesus’ words when He said, ”Even as you’ve done this to the least of these my brethern…”.

2 thoughts on “What I would like to show the new pope

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