With all the depressing news making headlines lately, I thought I’d go on a positive rant about one of my favorite things in the world right now: How cool the pope is.
First of all, it’s awesome that I can say that. Who ever thought the words “cool” and “pope” could be used in the same sentence? He’s so adored that some of his followers have christened him “Papa Frank”.
Rightfully so – he’s one cool cat. Today, I’m just talking about Frank. You can dig it.
As a nondenominational Christian (fine, call me a protestant), he holds no particular authority over the way I practice my faith. I remain a huge fan of his because he is using his authority and influence to drag organized religion, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century.
His preference for simple white robes matches his message perfectly. Within a week of being elected Pontiff, he commented that he would “like a poor Church, [that is] for the poor.”
I agree with where he’s going here. The church shouldn’t necessarily be destitute and penniless, but poor and humble in heart. It is only through humility that we can fulfill the second greatest commandment, which is to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Don’t get it twisted – he walks the walk as well. He’s known as “The cold call pope” because of his proclivity for making random calls to ordinary people:
He personally called a pregnant, single woman and offered to baptize her child when it was born. Twice he called an Italian Engineering student worried about finding a job, and talked with him for several minutes. He joked with the young man, prayed with him, and told him that he’d cried when he first read his letter.
Tolerance of Differences
Within his first 2 months on the job, he made the scandalous statement that,
God has redeemed all of us… Even the atheists.
When was the last time you heard a pope say that?
When he spoke on the phone with that unwed mother to be, he didn’t call her a sinner. He didn’t get all religious and label her as a harlot or a jezebel. He sympathized with her and offered to help in whatever way he could.
He refused to condemn gay and lesbian folks, seeming to even embrace those that feel homosexuality is not a choice. His exact words were,
Who am I to judge them if they’re seeking the Lord in good faith?
I could write a whole article on this alone. Time and time again, where the church has got it exactly wrong, this pope has got it exactly right.
He loves those who religion condemns. He embraces those who religion shuns and ridicules. In short, he acts a whole lot like this middle-eastern dude you’ve probably heard of (see image right).
Breaking with Tradition
Once again, it’s Papa Frank to the rescue. His Secretary of State said that the celibacy of priests is not dogma and can be discussed. This tradition is about a millennium and a half old. Simply beginning the conversation on whether celibacy is even necessary is a very, very big deal.
This is a Vatican Executive that’s willing to dispense with antiquated practices if he sees a better way. As evidence of this, he’s said that converting someone from another religion is nonsense, urging us to listen to each other instead.
I cannot overemphasize that. He used the word “nonsense”. The Pope said that. The Pope! We should all be so open-minded.
Pope Francis is a man – flesh and bones, like the rest of us. There is no doubt, however; that he is the right man for the job.
This humble guy has his feet on the ground, his eyes toward heaven, and a heart beating for the poor, the rich, the lost and the found.
This guy loves everybody, and everybody loves Francis.