Let me start by saying I am no spokesperson for the Catholic Church, nor is this post intended to support (or malign) anyone’s faith. In truth, I barely attend mass myself though I was brought up to feel some guilt at not going, though I certainly escaped the full measure of “Catholic guilt”. The Catholic Church sure doesn’t do itself any favors and often seems to do more to push me away than encourage me to come back.
What’s more, I haven’t fan-girled over a public figure since my teens. Then it was rock stars and TV detectives. Now I’ve fallen for an unexpected, rather unlikely source — the new head of the church I don’t attend, the Holy Father… Pope Francis.
From the moment he stood on the balcony without those red shoes, you could tell this man was different. His actions since that March night have only reinforced my initial positive feelings toward a humble soul who isn’t at all about luxury and contemplation, but rather about seeing and doing. His latest expulsion of a German bishop from his diocese for the exorbitant, $43 million, cost of the construction of an official residence, sends just the message I’ve always thought needed.
Excess is a sin when so many are in need.
This man gets that. He lives simply, does for himself and engages with the common folk when traveling. He rides the bus to work. A simple man living up to the name he has chosen. If that wasn’t enough, there are some other remarkable things our new Pope has done.
When speaking about gay priests and homosexuality in general, he says “Who am I to judge?” That’s a marked difference from his predecessor and a church where bishops are divided over if they should accept a gay, but celibate priest. The Pope even used the english word “gay” which some have taken as a monumental sign of the times, in recent remarks.
He’s also looking for a greater role for women, not going so far as condoning female priests, but certainly recognizing the value and contribution of women. Baby steps ladies, baby steps.
He engages with the modern world, and even has a twitter feed, Pontifex. The tweets are thoughtful and lovely, not preachy and cold.
He’s kind to children as you see in spontaneous moments.
He cares about poverty in the world, not just talking about it, but doing something to help.
Not to malign the Popes who have come and gone over my lifetime, but this man seems genuinely different. He makes me want to go back to church, maybe not be so impatient with all the fundraising and ceremony and see the beauty in it.
Much to my surprise I find I’m not the only fading Catholic that feels this way… more than one person I know has expressed similar sentiments. That in itself is a miracle.