As soon as the name of the new Roman Catholic Pope was announced the Lebanese social media was not late to celebrate “à la Libanaise”. in the sharp division between believers and skeptics, fans and critics there was a space for cute humor…
Believers hailed the new Pope and soon his photos and news were circulating on Facebook… a photo of the pope kneeling and kissing the foot of a sick kid went viral. Many social media users showed respect to the new pope’s simple way of life (using public transportation, paying his hotel bill… etc), Jean Nakhoul (@JeanNakhoul) welcomed “The holy face, the peaceful look” on twitter. Jossie Jaalouk (@Jossie_Jaalouk) posted that Pope Francis told Argentinians not to travel to Rome to celebrate if he was appointed but to give their money to the poor instead… Meanwhile Sandy Haddad found it useful to remind the enthusiastic fans of Francis I that even per Gospel “Christ is the head of the church not the elected Pope”.
The Lebanese seem to like most the fact that the new Pope admires the Lebanese St. Chabel and keeps a photo of the later in his office. Dana Khraiche (@DLKhraiche) shared the news on twitter: “I just saw somewhere the new Argentinean pope has a picture of Saint Charbel in his office”. Mate lovers shared photos of the pope drinking their favorite Yerba. Journalist Hala Abou Saeed noted with her gentle humor that using the train and public transportations, along with drinking mate makes the new Pope look like a Lebanese socialist (Drinking mate is popular among Druze population, the majority of which supports PSP)
On the other hand, some activists casted doubts on the sincerity of the humble image with which the new Pope is presented. Salim Allawzi (@AllawziSalim) tweeted: “pope Bergoglio was the highest ranking Jesuit in Argentina during the military dictatorship led by General Videla” and shared articles discussing the role of Francis in supporting dictatorship. Dima (@dimacharif) noted that the Pope is “just another white man” who “did not stand firm against dictatorship in Argentina”. Khaled Arab explained in a Facebook comment that the pope is involved in kidnapping two missionaries who were helping the poor, that he is a Jesuit, a movement in which you can find leftist as well as right wing extremists. Khaled doubted that a leftist would be allowed to reach a leading position in such a system. Khodor Salameh wrote a remarkable analysis on his Facebook page drawing a comparison between Pope Jean Paul II and Francis I asking if the new pope is chosen in this particular time to break the alliance between the church in South America and the new left, as the Polish Pope was chosen to play a big role in fragmenting the Socialist block in Eastern Europe.
Whether the new pope is a real friend of the poor or “just another white man” , it is too early to judge… only time will show. But meanwhile Vatican will need to adapt to the humble habits of the unusual Pope.