Comparing the agendas and performance of Pope Francis and China’s Xi Jinping.
By Stephan Richter, December 23, 2013
Americans and Chinese had long anticipated 2013. It was heralded as the year when the major stars were to be aligned: A young U.S. President would take office in January for his second term, while a new President of the People’s Republic of China would start his turn in office soon after.
But for all the careful planning and enticing symbolism of this superpower parallelism, another event stole the show entirely. As one of Asia’s smartest diplomats observed with his trademark combination of depth of insight and true deadpanning, two gigantic flocks – each consisting of one-billion plus people – started out their journeys under new leaders.
The unexpected resignation of Pope Benedict led to a new man taking the mantle of the Bishop of Rome. On March 13, 2013, Francis became the new pope, exactly one day before President Xi Jinping took over the reins in China.
China’s Communist Party and the Catholic Church share more than certain organizational characteristics, including being heavily male-dominated power structures. They also offer up ideologies or faith systems with an absolutist claim. That isn’t an easy proposition in an era when fewer and fewer people are inclined to adhere to such rigid propositions.
(Photo Credit: Flickr via DonkeyHotey)