Pope Francis: The ‘Right Man for the Right Time’

Catholicism Expert Christopher Bellitto to Discuss Pope Francis at Georgian Court

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 6.13.30 PMLakewood, N.J., March 3, 2014—In his role as the world’s foremost religious leader, Pope Francis continues to challenge perceptions and expectations of the papacy, according to church history expert Christopher Bellitto, Ph.D. Dr. Bellitto, chair and associate professor of history at Kean University, is the guest speaker for “Pope Francis: Reflections on a New Papacy” at Georgian Court University, Tuesday, March 11 at 7 p.m. The event, which takes place on GCU’s historic Lakewood campus, is free and open to the public.

“At the one-year mark, there’s always a story, and with Pope Francis, the story isn’t disappointment,” said Dr. Bellitto, who also speaks extensively with the national media on matters of contemporary Catholicism. “He’s a really savvy leader.”

From washing the feet of juvenile inmates during a March 2013 Holy Thursday ritual to his recent push to fully modernize the Vatican’s budgeting and financial processes, Pope Francis is increasingly held up as an welcome example of what is right with the church.

“There’s something real about this guy,” said Dr. Bellitto, “and it’s resonating among people in the pews because it appears that he is truly walking the walk. Yes, there’s still a significant wait-and-see factor on some matters, but contrary to what critics say, he is not a media creation.”

To many Catholics, the Holy Father represents a new kind of hero, he said, adding that Benedict’s contributions are not diminished by the new papacy. Instead, Pope Francis’ actions are creating a new narrative in Church history.

“Francis looks like the right man for the right time,” said Dr. Bellitto. “He has tapped into a real desire for a faith that is encountered in the streets, and a real desire for a sense of authenticity.”

Sponsored by the GCU Year of Hope committee, Dr. Bellitto’s talk is one of several reflective experiences that examine purpose and meaning in academic, career, vocation, and life choices—all in connection GCU’s Mercy core values. A grant from the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NETVUE) helps to underwrite this program and others planned by the university’s Year of Hope committee.

Admission for “Pope Francis: Reflections on a New Papacy” is free, but reservations are required. To reserve seating, contact the GCU Office of Conferences and special events at specialevents@georgian.edu or 732.987.2263.