Column: A Pope Like No Other

Photo Credit: Edgar Jiménez from Porto, Portugal

Francis the one and only

He has this way about him.

Pope Francis is special, for his humility, his love, his unyielding compassion.

At the age of 78, he prepares for each day with the enthusiasm of a schoolboy. He wakes at 4:30 a.m. every morning and works till 10:30 p.m. Every night. He can do so because he is obviously joyful in his job. There is a smile in his heart and a song on his lips.

Pope Francis is bringing to us 'the year of mercy.' He reaches out to the poor, the destitute.

The homeless, and the helpless. But he inspires universal passion and global respect. His message is inclusion, not exclusivity. Whether you are a gay man, or a straight divorced woman, the pope wants you as a partner. He condemns you not. He welcomes you in.

Pope Francis is scholarly, well-read and immensely thoughtful. He seems to understand we all have a lot more in common than we do apart. He bridges the human divide, fostering outreach and partnerships rather than infighting and paternalism.

Pope Francis has created a papacy without pomp and circumstance, and by so doing he has exalted himself further in the eyes of the world than those gilded red slippers would ever have taken him. This is a man who does not represent the institution of Religion. He simply exudes goodness.

His disarming comments, his simple sentiments, inviting homosexuals into the church have rippled through seven continents, creating goodwill towards gay and lesbian populations within the Christian community. By saying of homosexuals, 'who am I to judge,' he sends a message to millions of others that nor should they.

By meeting with gay citizens and couples in Washington, D.C., as the pontiff, he sends a signal of equality not only to clerks in Kentucky but to every courtroom, government offices and church in our fifty states.

By visiting prisons and hospitals, he is reminding us of our duty to promote redemption and healing. The Pope is letting us know that beyond our shining mountains and the glory of our American Plains, there are steep hills and massive pains within our cities and across our country. Pope Francis is teaching us every day we are all brothers and sisters in a global community, with much still to accomplish.

As the American poet Robert Frost once wrote, 'there are miles to go before we sleep.' Pope Francis is taking us on a journey, which reminds us we can all do better- and that we so desperately need to. For a few short days in America, he is reminding us of the world that could be; that should be. Let's hope we all take it to heart.


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