How weary I have grown of all the negative news. Can’t anyone get along? Or at least try to make the world a better place for more than just this team or that side?
We live in such divisive times that it seems we’re somehow supposed to enjoy all the gridlock around us—I’ve seen enough of newscasters smirking as they read bad news, as if it’s great for us all to go down the tubes because they’d rather prove the sky is falling than see any resolution or hope. “They” want this so of course “we” will do everything in our power to stop whatever “they” are doing, even if it might be in everyone’s best interest to move forward.
Sure, the Pope is in a unique position where he really does have the power to do things his way in his organization—you know, as in “it’s good to be king” and all that? And yet I really believe he is doing things His way—that is in God’s way.
The Pope is selected by men through a mysterious process, but I believe God is behind that process. He knew what He was doing when He selected a man who broke with tradition right from the start. When Jorge Mario Bergoglio chose his papal name to emulate not a previous pope, but a revered saint who was also a bit of an oddball, he gave us a big hint about how he felt called to lead the Catholic Church—away from the trappings and back to the people.
Though I’m not Catholic, I do know of and admire the way St. Francis of Assisi fulfilled God’s work on this earth. Each time I read a new article about Pope Francis, I see how very much he emulates the ways of Francis. Yet because he is not just one of the leaders of the church but the Head of the (Catholic) Church as Pope, he has the authority to make incredible reforms from within, starting right from the top.
By the very numbers of people on this globe who are Catholic, every pope is in a very unique position to speak for Christians—even for Christians whose beliefs and practices may differ very strongly from those of the Catholic Church. Pope Francis, through his statements and actions, is doing a really good job of reminding all Christians that we really are on the same team.
Even if he and I still differ on some very major principles, I am in awe that he keeps bringing his faith statements back to love and how we treat those in need. While his proposed reforms and statements have angered many of the more rule-oriented people within his church, he moves forward with the changes because—I am convinced—he feels they come from God. Since he didn’t expect to become the Pope and yet did, he acts with the conviction that God called him at this time because of what the church needs.
But even if he were solely a world leader, not a faith leader, he’d still make me smile. He isn’t some removed decision-maker making choices for his group in some far off hallowed place—whatever pronouncements he declares or negotiations he presides over in formal group, he seems to be doing for real people with real needs. No, much to his guards’ dismay, he is full-body throwing himself out amongst the people and loving them in those moments. He seems to like people, really he does, and shows so, whether he is shaking their hands or visiting them in times of need or through using the power of his position to care for them.
In these times when so few positive leaders make the news, I am so glad for the example provided by Pope Francis. Thank you for lifting my faith, Pope Francis. Keep smiling and leading in love.