By Claire Ala
76 years old is the age of most retirees, but not for the new pope. Pope Francis was elected to take the place of the previous Pope Benedict. Well, what makes this new pope any different from the past leaders?
Much of the news around the world has been calling Pope Francis an humble guy, one headline read “Meet the new pope: Francis is humble leader who takes the bus to work” (NBC World News). Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio chose the name, Francis, to be ordained as pope, after Saint Francis of Assisi. Francis is a name that has not been used by another pope. Many Catholics see Pope Francis as a new beginning for the Catholic Church, believing that he will bring positive change to the church’s shady past.
“His Jesuit background gives him direction and strength, and choosing Francis after St. Francis of Assisi shows how much he cares about the poor and starts to foreshadow a much more concerned Catholic Church towards the poor,” Geronimo Debeza believes. Debeza is a UA student and lifelong Catholic, graduating from Little Rock Catholic High School for Boys.
At first glance, the new pope seems to be a good choice for a leadership role, giving a refreshing change in a rooted, religious system. On the other hand, talking about helping the poor and asking for prayers are not enough to fix this church’s many faults.
Unfortunately, this new pope continues to hold a backward stance on social issues like same-sex marriage. He’s publicly expressed his disagreement over the Argentinean president’s legalization of same-sex marriage. Furthermore, Francis strongly opposes same-sex couples adopting children and abortions.
This new pope may seem like a new cup of tea for the Catholic Church, however he isn’t a leader who is concerned with promoting equal rights and happiness for every human being. There’s a new pope in the house, but the Catholic Church continues to push strict, close-minded beliefs that leave them centuries behind in a constantly changing society.
And it’s hard to put faith in a church where some of their leaders abused youth and covered it up for years. Although these crimes are not easily forgotten or forgiven, Pope Francis wants to paint a better picture for the Catholic community’s future.
The National Catholic Reporter (NCR) announced about 300,000 people welcomed Pope Francis in Rome, Italy, on Sunday, March 17, 2013, when he gave his first public address and prayer to the public. NCR reported Francis’ gospel focused on mercy and compassion for the poor.
Francis stated “it is not easy to trust oneself to the mercy of God, because [God’s mercy] is an unfathomable abyss — but we must do it.” The new pope and Saint Francis of Assisi share the desire to instill a message of living a modest lifestyle along with showing mercy for the less fortunate. Perhaps the new leadership will promote kindness and humility-a couple virtues that many people (not only Catholics) have forgotten.
Besides choosing an original name for his papacy and recalling the church’s traditional role of helping the poor, Francis is also the first pope from South America. He prefers living a simple life, which included living in an apartment rather than the archbishop’s swanky palace and taking the bus to work instead of being driven around in a limo. Francis is known for practicing what he preaches, which is aiding the less fortunate.