Top Opinions of the Week: March 9–15

TIME Ideas rounds up the most thought-provoking posts on the web

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The Internet’s big thinkers shared their perspectives on the issues of the week — from the election of Pope Francis to the 2013 budget proposals. Here are some of the opinions that got us thinking. Did we miss one? Share the “ideas” that caught your attention this week in the comment section.

Wolf Whisperer in the Vatican in the New York Times

Who: Timothy Egan, author and Times columnist

The Idea: Pope Francis’s first move was the most radical by a pontiff in a long time, says Egan — choosing the name Francis. As patron of the environment, the poor and the dispossessed, St. Francis of Assisi didn’t believe in owning property. He “slept on dirt floors and dined with lepers,” Egan says. Now, with nearly half the world living on less than $2 a day, Pope Francis might be exactly the type of pontiff that the Church needs. “It may be too much to expect that this new Francis will be devoutly inspired by the old Francis,” Egan says. But “Pope Francis can claim a mantle from a pauper who still changes lives, eight centuries after his death.”

Sum-it-up Quote: “By the philosophy of St. Francis, the church of Rome would not spend its days lecturing people about condoms and condemning homosexuals. There would be no secretive obsession with protecting the organized crime network built around pedophile priests. Humility would be a guidepost.”

(MORE: What It Means to Have a Jesuit Pope)

Africa Doesn’t Need Our ‘Pity’ on CNN

Who: John D. Sutter, human rights and social justice columnist

The Idea: Does the Western world “pity” Africa too much? A nonprofit group called Mama Hope is dedicated to “reframing the way the Western world thinks of Africa, particularly African women.” Their “Stop the Pity” campaign consists of humorous and light-hearted videos that reflect the other side of Africa — the side that is thriving — and are created in hopes that people from richer countries will see those who live in poorer places in a different way.

Sum-it-up Quote: “As anyone who’s spent time in Africa will tell you, it’s a diverse continent that’s home to both immense joy and incredible sorrow.”

(MORE: The Resource Miracle)

The Real Women’s Issue: Time in the Wall Street Journal
Who: Jody Greenstone Miller, co-founder and CEO of Business Talent Group

The Idea: It isn’t lack of ambition or credentials that is keeping women from running things in America, says Miller. The real issue is time. These days, “senior roles have to consume their every waking moment,” Miller says. “Women don’t ‘lean in’ [as Sheryl Sandberg wants] because they don’t like the world they’re being asked to lean into.” Miller says it doesn’t have to be this way, and offers four tips to break free from the long workday and “put the clock at the heart of this debate.”

Sum-it-up Quote: “The real barrier to getting more women to the top is the unsexy but immensely difficult issue of time commitment: Today’s top jobs in major organizations demand 60-plus hours of work a week.”

(MORE: TIME Cover Story: Confidence Woman)

The GOP and the Budget Boilerplate Gap in the Washington Post

Who: Michael Gerson, Washington Post columnist

The Idea: In corner A, we have Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, “The Path to Prosperity.” In corner B, we have Democratic Sen. Patty Murray’s proposal, the first Democratic budget in four years. Neither proposal is worth criticizing, says Gerson, because neither deserves a vote in Congress. “But the broad contrast in approaches is instructive,” he says. And somewhere between the two lies a serious budget that could be good for the future of America.

Sum-it-up Quote: “A serious budget lies somewhere in the vast gap between the Ryan and Murray budget proposals.”

(MORE: Ryan’s Latest Budget: Wrong Problem, Wrong Solution)

Rob Portman: Gay Couples Also Deserve a Chance to Get Married in The Columbus Dispatch

Who: Rob Portman, Republican Senator from Ohio

The Idea: For years, congressman and now Senator Rob Portman strongly and vocally opposed same-sex marriage. Then, two years ago, his son told him that he was gay, and now Portman himself is coming out — in support of gay marriage. As a Christian, Portman rooted his former position in his faith, but after considering it further, he realized that “gay couples’ desire to marry doesn’t amount to a threat but rather a tribute to marriage, and a potential source of renewed strength for the institution.”

Sum-it-up Quote: “I wrestled with how to reconcile my Christian faith with my desire for Will to have the same opportunities to pursue happiness and fulfillment as his brother and sister. Ultimately, it came down to the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God.”

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