What Would Pope Francis Do?
I cannot think of anything more important and pertinent than Pope Francis and his mission of Love to open up this blog (Piazzalife.com) to the World.
Pope Francis has shocked the world and silenced many who either correctly criticized the Church or too many times mocked it unnecessarily. Leading by example, he has forced even the most angry non-believers to, at the very least, open up to the idea of Christ’s message. Even more importantly, he brought to light many of the Church’s dirty laundry and politely suggests that Christians start to act more like Christ and not moral finger-waggers. This Pope leads by acting; he does not talk or pontificate (pun intended). Elegantly and warmly, he demonstrates humility, a word many people who know Pope Francis use to describe him. Italo-Argentine Jorge Mario Bergoglio chose the name Francis,hoping to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi, a holy man who dedicated his life to charity. Like St. Francis, he gives his belongings away and is truly a humble and holy man who cares nothing about the material world but reaches deeply into the souls of humans he sees as brothers and sisters in Christ. This is a true Christian; he disarms everyone with his kindness. With his open embrace, he teaches us about Love.
As Archbishop, he exchanged a life of comfort for one of modesty, giving up his luxurious housing for a modest apartment, where he cooked his own meals and even took public transportation to work. Aspiring to serve others, he washed and kissed the feet of sick children. As Pope, he dared to break with Papal Tradition and washed the feet of not only jailed women (!) but of a Muslim (double !!). We got a refreshing introduction to this Pope, when he came out onto a balcony of St. Peter’s to accept the Papacy and greet the world, dressed simply in all white and minimal Papal jewelry.
He is known to respond to letters written by people pleading for any type of comfort by calling them directly and leaving them dumbfounded. When an old lady in her 80′s was mugged for 50 Euros while visting her sick husband in the Hospital, the Pope took action and sent her 200 euros. This is nothing new for a man who espouses Humility and Charity and encourages others to do the same. After being elected Pope, he returned to the Hotel where he stayed during the election process to pay his bill. By the way, he carries his own luggage. Bergoglio personally called back home in Argentina to cancel his newspaper subscription.
Unlike some of his “stuffy” predecessors, Pope Francis is open to spontaneity. When a boy wandered onto the stage where the Pope was to speak, Bergoglio was visibly amused and laughed merrily, even allowing the child to sit on the Papal Throne. He steps aside from critiquing gay people and asks, “Who am I to judge?”. It is impossible to go against him since he doesn’t bother fighting. He “wins” by leading by example.
The most impressive act of Love by this Pope happened early November 2013. The images of Pope Francis embracing and kissing a man visibly covered in thousands of tumors. The man, 53 year old Vinicio Riva, told Italian Magazine Panorama, that he was unable to speak because the emotions were too strong. The one minute event felt like an Eternity, and Riva remained astonished that the Pope instinctively embraced him, without knowing if the disease were contagious or not. Given that, Riva said, “I only felt Love”. He did it again a few weeks later, embracing a man with severe facial deformities. He does not see people as physical entities; he only sees the soul. He continues to embrace those who society shrugs off (see second picture)
Who of us would do what Pope Francis did? I openly admit that I would need to first know if the tumors were contagious. I am in no way a fraction of the man Pope Francis is and I have no problem admitting it. These past few years have been excruciatingly tough for me and I reached out to the Pope. Knowing full well I am one in probably hundreds of thousands who write to him, I do not expect a response. But what moved me to contact him?
Though he does this naturally out of good will, he also intelligently repositions the Church and embarks on one of the most successful marketing campaigns in history. This “marketing” has allowed his name to be the most discussed on the Internet. Except unlike the material things we buy and crave, this is real, he is real, and the message of Love he promotes is the most important we will ever need to hear.
UPDATE: I have reached out to the Pope with a letter and received one back from the Vatican, thanking me and informing me that my family is in the Pope’s prayers.
Photos Courtesy of
Rex Features (955)