The old line goes: “never talk religion and politics.” Well, here goes my attempt to break the rule in one fell swoop. A few months ago we were excited to learn of the new Pope. Francis, as Cardinal Bergoglio took his name, was a Jesuit cardinal from Argentina. The buzz was great but what we did not know at the time was the true excitement that would be created with his early actions and most recent interviews.
A true “man for others,” Francis has taken the papacy by storm, but without the pomp and circumstance. Actually it has been quite the opposite. His actions have been simple, yet profound. This speaks volumes to me. The washing of the feet of the “prisoners” on Holy Thursday, the taking of a much lesser residence than was offered to him and the interviews he has given. There is a great humbleness to Francis and an accessibility by all that he has created with his openness and direct conversation with the people of the Church.
As a Catholic school we can all take “pearls” from Francis. His simple, yet profound approach to walk in the footsteps of Jesus is one that, in my humble opinion, seems to be uniting Catholics behind a leader who listens, understands and shares his vision for the future. On the flip side of this is our government, which is 14 days into a shutdown and only recently have we heard anything that resembles leaders trying to reach an agreement as opposed to name calling.
I am not one to follow ratings very much but recent polling is quite a stark contrast between Pope Francis and our current political state of affairs. While almost 80% of Catholics have a “favorable” rating of the Pope, about the same amount (74% and 61%) have a disapproval rating of congressional Republicans and Democrats. One person is working to build bridges, heal and communicate, while the other group is arguing, calling each other names and pushing our country to the brink of default. No real surprise with the polling results here.
“We the people” seem to have it right. Isn’t that how we started this whole thing a couple hundred years ago? Francis is listening and the fruits of his labor are felt by the people of the Church. Our congressional leaders should take a few notes from Pope Francis. Maybe the faith in our government would be as strong as our faith in the Vicar of Rome.