Hip-hop music and Pope Francis have a lot more in common than many might think, a point that was made poignantly, and sometimes not so poignantly, clear this week with #PopeBars.
Last week, Pope Francis traveled to Africa on a six-day tour that included stops in Uganda, Central African Republic and Kenya. He spoke with local leaders, bishops and fellow Catholics on issues like corruption, tribalism and poverty. During his closing Mass, Francis reminded his audience to have the “need to be full of hope and enthusiasm for the future.”
What has seemed to resonate most deeply with people all over social media, however, is the photograph snapped by Gianluigi Guercia for Agence France-Presse. Guercia took a picture of Francis as he addressed a displacement camp in C.A.R. The picture has since gone viral and led to the creation of #PopeBars.
Examples found under the tag:
Even America editors spit some lyrics:
However, what’s most significant about #PopeBars, as Brendan Busse, S.J., of The Jesuit Post stated on Twitter, “is how much evidence you see that people actually understand [Pope Francis’s] core teachings.”
This is the power of #PopeBars; it is the Francis effect, in action. We are watching as people inside and outside of the church interpret and discuss the pope’s teachings: on the poor, “I told y’all I came to afflict the greedy/ don’t be so shocked when I roll out services for the needy”; the Bible, “God had a mixtape he named it the Bible, Jesus had a rap crew called it the disciples”; to Jesus, “birthdays was the worst days now I sip Christ’s blood when I’m thirst-ay.”
Pope Francis calls on us to help those who are suffering in our world. From those crossing borders to escape war-torn countries to those deprived of access to education, Francis reminds us that we must care for one another, for “indifference is dangerous, whether innocent or not.” And like Pope Francis, hip-hop for many is an outlet where one can address issues of injustice, mercy, love and so on. It is, as I have written before, a place for many of the most marginalized in our society.
#PopeBars demonstrates how social media hashtags can be more than just frivolous fun. It can be a moment of true dialogue and reflection.