Time Magazine named Pope Francis its Person of the Year for 2013 and it was a richly deserved distinction. I’m not Catholic and I’m not likely to praise anyone who’s steeped in religious dogma but this man is more than just a Pope. He’s a humanitarian in a true sense of the word.
Anyone who touts their faith as the “one true religion” loses me from the start. Previous Popes have been all about recruiting Catholics and denying that there was ever any wrongdoing in the Catholic church. Not Francis. On Boxing Day he reached out to the masses, to “people of all religions and atheists”, to join in either prayer or desire for peace. I’d like to think that peace is something that most people want, no matter what they believe or don’t believe. For a Catholic Pope to even admit that atheists and followers of other doctrines are valuable – let alone that they exist! – is truly a landmark moment.
“I invite even nonbelievers to desire peace. Join us with your desire, a desire that widens the heart. Let us all unite, either with prayer or with desire, but everyone, for peace.”
This is one hip Pontiff at the age of 77. He invited homeless people to join him at Christmas. He broke with tradition and ate lunch with his house staff saying he wanted them to share fellowship “as a family”.
He doesn’t erase the sins of the past but he represents a more realistic future. You go, Pope!