One's a powerful leader for life. The other's Xi Jinping – Jeffrey Wasserstrom
Five years ago, when Xi Jinping became President and Francis became Pope in the same month, I wrote a playful piece suggesting that the question in my title could be answered in the affirmative. One inspiration for this was finding, as I toggled between broadcasts on CNN and other networks, that the ascensions of Xi and Francis were being described in very similar ways. There was talk, in each case, of a small group of men using a secretive process to decide which of them should be the next leader of about one-and-a-half billion people. There was speculation over whether the new leader would be a bold reformer or a stay-the-course type. There was also some musing on whether the new leader’s predecessor, who had just stepped down, would fade away or try to exert influence from behind the scenes.