Why the Pope Matters to Me

In the last few weeks, I’ve been asked a few times by Catholics and non-Catholics, “Why does it matter to you who the next pope is?” The answer is simple: the Roman Catholic Church is the largest tradition within Christianity. Whoever heads the Roman Catholic Church as its Supreme Pontiff wields a tremendous amount of influence on the world stage of thought, politics, and spirituality. He shapes the face and attitude of the Roman Catholic Church as a whole. And in some ways, his leadership can influence the rest of the Christian Church, too.
Pope FrancisThat’s why today’s election of Pope Francis is an extraordinary one. The choice of Cardinal Bergoglio of Francis as his papal name is  groundbreaking. No other pope has taken this name. St. Francis himself was not even an ordained priest! His life was marked with simplicity, humility, poverty, holiness, and a close relatedness to Christ and to all of nature. Francis is also one of the saints greatly admired by both Catholics and Protestants. Perhaps all of this signals a humility and greater openness of this new pope to Christians of other traditions? We’ll soon know…

But regardless, the world’s attention on today’s events is a striking picture of how tightly woven our global community has become. A leader of one particular establishment is a consequential choice for everyone else. And now we see the direction the Roman Catholic Church is possibly taking by electing an Argentinian (non-European!) Jesuit (first in history) who has shown a life pattern of simplicity. (He’s always cooked his own meals and taken public transportation.) He’s not a Vatican insider. (He was not a favorite of the Roman Curia.) He has spent his life in Argentina, advocating and working among the poor.

Any way you slice it, a man like Pope Francis could have tremendous influence on Catholics and non-Catholics a like. And that is why his election matters to me.

So, I offer my congratulations and blessings for Pope Francis, his ministry and leadership, and my brothers and sisters of the Roman Catholic Church. You have a Pope, and we all have a leader who will have a hand in shaping our world. My prayer is that he will shape it to look more like the kingdom of God…


Filed under Church Culture and Leadership

3 Responses to Why the Pope Matters to Me

  1. Reblogged this on O2B heavenly-minded and commented:
    Pope Francis. I like the name.

  2. dawn

    Thank you for answering questions about the pope I now do not have to ask you!Very Interesting Indeed!

  3. Ken

    I agree this was very important for all Christians, and was on the edge of seat, waiting for that “Habemus Papam” to be announced! During his first homily today, I was so moved:
    “…we can walk as much we want, we can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, nothing will avail. …”
    “When we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, and when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly, we are bishops, priests, cardinals, Popes, but not disciples of the Lord…”
    “I would like that all of us, after these days of grace, might have the courage – the courage – to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Cross of the Lord…”
    Such wonderful words on all confessing Christ and the Cross, which gets said, but often without enough emphasis, as a former catholic. Just my thoughts – I think Pope Francis may be one of the more ecumenical Popes we will experience, and bring a more complete understanding of the good news to all.
    Viva papa!

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