Much has already been written about Pope Francis, but I can’t resist adding my two cents worth. For much of my life I found myself contrasting various religious leaders. The most remarkable contrast was between the Dahli Lama and Pope Benedict XVI.
Where the Dahli Lama sought to find the similarities of all religions, too often Pope Benedict focused on issues that divide. While the Dahli Lama dressed in the simple robes of a monk and eschewed the trappings of power and wealth, Pope Benedict seemed to embrace them. While the Dahli Lama displayed humility and humor, Pope Benedict too often allowed the Church to condemn those who strayed too far from his conservative viewpoint. Indeed, under Pope Benedict, the Vatican chastised a group of American nuns for placing too much focus on poverty and economic injustice, the core teachings of Christ.
Under the leadership of Pope Benedict, many bishops and priests felt comfortable engaging in partisan politics; some even threatening parishoners that they would “go to hell” if they voted for the wrong candidate. Worse yet, under Pope Benedict, several Archbishops continued to give cover to predatory pedophiles within the Church.
Enter Pope Francis.
Suddenly, we have a Pope who speaks for the poor and the downtrodden. In fact, he intentionally chose to be called Pope Francis in honor of the patron saint of the poor. This is a Pope who denounced runaway greed and economic inequality; who condemned the “idolatry of money;” who stated that the Church has spent too much time focused on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage; who even went so far as to say that atheists and non-Catholics would be redeemed by doing good. He has embraced the homeless and even washed the feet of prisoners. Pope Francis not only speaks about the principles of Christ. He follows them.
What a refreshing change!
I’m not Catholic, but I believe that our purpose in life should be to help others; to be kind. And I agree with author Thomas Cahill who said, “There are really only two movements in the world. One is kindness. And the other is cruelty.” Let’s all try to embrace the first.
For more insights into the “People’s Pope,” I encourage you to watch Bill Moyer’s interview with Cahill. I’m sure you will enjoy it.