Controversial, Outspoken, Radical… no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump! These are some of the words used to describe the 266th pope of the Roman Catholic Church- Pope Francis. Of course, critics of this pope are also quick to point out that he is Humble, Selfless, and a Humanitarian. How can these two polarizing personalities coexist in one man? More importantly, why are people, not just Catholics, flocking towards him?
In the 2 years since his ascension, this pope, in my opinion, has transformed the Catholic Church! Here in his own words, allow me to show you why this pope matters more than anyone before him.
Pope Francis has begun the painful process of rehabilitating the Church by admitting its flaws- acknowledging the sexual abuse scandals. One case “is enough for us to be ashamed of ourselves and do what needs to be done,” he said. Last April, in a public address, he strongly condemned the sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, asking for forgiveness and pledging to impose penalties on “men of the church” who harm children. This alone qualifies him for the most outstanding person of the century!
I see clearly that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful … I see the church as a field hospital after battle.
As a practicing Hindu, I’ve always been open to all religions. All Gods are equal to me, but until now Christianity has felt like an exclusive club, where the price of membership involved proclaiming Jesus Christ as the only Lord and Savior. But, the pope says you don’t even have to believe in God to be a good person. This is the core of ancient Hinduism.
I believe in God, not in a Catholic God, there is no Catholic God, there is .God and I believe in Jesus Christ, his incarnation.
Instead of being just a church that welcomes and receives by keeping the doors open, let us try also to be a church that finds new roads … to those who have quit or are indifferent.
God is not a person. God lives in all of us. When Indians say Namaste, what we are saying is, the divine in me worships the divine in you. And this pope has a very similar view about God and man.
Since many of you do not belong to the Catholic Church and others are non-believers, from the bottom of my heart I give this silent blessing to each and every one of you, respecting the conscience of each one of you but knowing that each one of you is a child of God.
Here are some more of my favorite quotes… As I compiled this list today, I could help but get a little teary eyed. For this man is a real blessing to humanity. Forget his religion and just look at his principles… he stands for everything that is good and decent in this world.
Perhaps you were mad, perhaps plates flew, but please remember this: never let the sun go down without making peace! Never, never, never!
Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is good… Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place.
If one has the answers to all the questions – that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble.
And this pope is not afraid to get political! His views on immigration reform, climate change, and economic equality are making huge waves among the masses. He even understands the nuances of trickle-down economics and how it has left millions behind…
Every man, every woman who has to take up the service of government, must ask themselves two questions: ‘Do I love my people in order to serve them better? Am I humble and do I listen to everybody, to diverse opinions in order to choose the best path?’ If you don’t ask those questions, your governance will not be good.
If you don’t think the Pope’s visit to the US is a game changer, then I challenge you to wait and see. In this culture of tuning out disagreements and vilifying those who hold opposing beliefs, this pope is going to stand out and make your head spin. He’s likely to inject a dose of kindness and empathy into those discussions that have polarized our society. And, I’m particularly interested to see how the Republican Party with their angry rhetoric against, minorities, gays, females react to his message. If nothing else, His Holiness’ visit changes the conversation from the same old same old and if that’s not a blessing, I don’t know what is!