With Brazil's presidential race days away, a whiff of something new is in the air. If the pollsters are right, Dilma Rousseff, the once-favored incumbent and a protege of the legendary Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is in trouble, and along with her, a political dynasty.
Before every World Cup match in Brazil, the players lined up in front of a banner that read, “Say No to Racism.” The message was particularly directed toward the soccer stadiums of Europe, where there have been many instances of racial taunting and physical aggression by hostile fans against African and other black players.
Unless Brazil — the region's largest economy — takes serious measures to encourage investments and become more competitive in the world economy, and Venezuela and Argentina make a serious U-turn from their disastrous spending sprees of the past decade, my guess is the region will barely grow over the next two years.
The issues Francis and his global flock of 1.2 billion are up against: the fights over liturgy, the isolation that can accompany priestly celibacy, the shortage of vocations to the priesthood in rich nations and, most of all, questions about divorce and remarriage.
A joke making the rounds on the Internet says that if Argentina were a celebrity, it would be Justin Bieber -- a rich, spoiled, irresponsible teenager, who always repeats the same mistakes, and always blames others for them.