Tag Archives: Pope Francis

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