Whether you like Pope Francis or not, you must admit, the man speaks and lives in ways that change people’s hearts and minds. In doing so, Pope Frances changes the world.
Personally, I like this man of God. Although I am not Catholic, I appreciate his courage. Below, I share a few reasons for my deep respect for the pope.
With his scientific background, this educated pope demonstrates intelligence and understanding about nature. On his recent trip to the United States, he urged followers to respect and abide by President Obama’s stand on climate change. When each of us arrived on earth, nature greeted us with visual canvases of splendor and symphonies of songs. Taking care of planet earth is nothing more than good stewardship. When we cap pollution, clean up our oceans, reduce smog, and seek alternative forms of energy, we honor God. Even if climate change has nothing to do with man’s behaviors, honoring the planet provides a concrete way to express thanks.
Pope Francis encouraged the church to follow the teachings of Jesus by ministering to the poor, the sick, and the underprivileged. He did not recommend a checklist of required behaviors or conditions.
When questioned about same sex marriages, Pope Francis asked, “Who am I to judge?” If the pope — the head of the Catholic Church does not feel worthy to judge, surely the rest of us should follow his lead. “Who am I to judge?”
Understandably, Pope Francis did not condone abortions. With his next breath, he added that we should forgive women who decide to end pregnancies. The pope directed us to forgive; to accept others even when they view life from different perspectives. Once again, the message calls for love rather than judgment.
On the issue of immigration, Pope Francis stated that he was once an immigrant. Again, he admonished us to treat those in need with compassion.
This amazing man washed the feet of a Muslin woman in prison. How totally humble. How loving. How forgiving. Pope Francis raised the bar to the level once established by Jesus.
As we watched the Pope-mobile wind its way down Washington D.C. streets, a small girl, born in America to undocumented immigrant parents, ducked under the rope and started walking toward his car. Instead of turning her away, the pope motioned her to come to him. Their embrace expressed the needs of our country; the needs of our families. I add, the embrace modeled the needs of our broken hearts.
Perhaps more than any living individual, Pope Francis speaks for God. More than anyone I can name, he mimics the life and teachings of Jesus. I listen reverently to this humble man of God.