Capitol Report – The People’s Pope
By State Representative, Leon D. Young
It’s only been five months since Pope Francis began his papacy. However, it was apparent right from the start that he would be a transformative figure for the beleaguered Catholic Church.
During a recent visit to Brazil, which has more Catholics than any other country, an estimated 123 million, the pope’s radical simplicity and direct manner was on full display for all to see.
In stark contrast to his predecessor’s papal visit, Pope Francis spoke on the beach, engaged with the masses and was greeted like a rock star by followers entranced by his approachable style and folksy adages.
More than a million people gathered for an open-air Mass on Copacabana Beach, while bishops danced on stage to upbeat music and Francis played the guitar.
The pope’s comments on homosexuals and women in the church were yet another sign of how the previous pope (Benedict) and Francis approach doctrine from different directions.
Never veering from church doctrine opposing homosexuality, Francis did strike a more compassionate tone from Benedict. According to Pope Francis, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
This brief statement by the pope that he would not be the judge of someone’s sexual orientation has resonated through the church and speaks volumes about the new pontiff.
Francis’ direct and down-to-earth manner doesn’t end there. From the very outset, there were clear and undeniable indications that his papacy would be transformative for the Catholic Church.
The pope’s initial decision to take the name “Francis” is a reminder of his passionate defense for the poor and disenfranchised. He is the first non-European pope in more than 1,200 years and the first member of the Jesuit order to lead the church.
Some of Francis’ other common qualities before becoming pope included: being a soccer fan, giving up a palace to live in an apartment, riding public transportation instead of a chauffeur-driven car and cooking his own meals.
Heavens knows that the Catholic Church has been under siege stemming from countless allegations of gay and pedophile priests running amok.
Pope Francis is truly a breath of fresh air that appears to have the wisdom, compassion and human sensibilities to help restore the tarnished image of world Catholicism.