The Pope of Hope

Pope Francis

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Pope Francis is my kind of pope, and I’m not Roman Catholic.

The guy is humble in dress, behavior, toning down ceremonies, closeness to people, preaching, care for the poor, and emulation of Christ. His faith is, by all accounts and evidence, genuine and deep–and clashes with much of the Vatican’s opulence and power structure.

He’s also taking a decisive approach to punish sexual abusers in the church, recognizing women in the church, and has washed the feet of prisoners rather than the traditional priests.

Francis seems to be less interested in being a pope than in being a good Christian leader (and the two are not the same). Exactly what an often-corrupt and troubled papacy and church need.

For someone like me, who teaches church history and knows all the stinky parts, and who thus does not buy into this particular church institution, Francis is becoming a bit of a hero to me. I hope he does not succumb to the pomp and ceremony surrounding him, or to the schemes of those who would control or eliminate him. I pray he lives out long and influential term–and that he remains true to the name of Saint Francis he has adopted.