Pope Francis is just what the world needs

Frances Matejcek, Arts and Entertainment Editor

“Get out of the Vatican. Don’t wait for people to come ringing. You need to go out and look for the poor,” were Pope Francis’ words to Archbishop Krajewski, the Vatican Almoner.

Before Pope Francis, the Vatican Almoner’s job was to allocate funds to charitable organizations. However, when Pope Francis took charge he changed the role, instead instructing Archbishop Krajewski to go out onto the streets himself to distribute money, pray, and talk with the poor.

This is only one of many examples of why Pope Francis was called “The People’s Pope” by Time Magazine. From posing with a newlywed couple wearing a clown nose to participating in the first ever papal selfie, Pope Francis is making himself more approachable by reaching out to Catholics and non-Catholics alike. The ways that Pope Francis has changed the papal image are signifiers of broader, positive changes he has made in the way the church interacts with the world.

“We belong to the same human family and we share a common destiny. This brings a responsibility for each to work so that the world becomes a community of brothers who respect each other, accept each other in one’s diversity, and take care of one another,” the pope said in a speech on New Year’s Eve. This isn’t simply a one-time suggestion. Throughout his 10 months as Pope, he has encouraged discussion and understanding.

When asked about relations with Islam, he stated, “suitable training is essential for all involved… so that they can also acknowledge the values of others, appreciate the concerns underlying their demands and shed light on shared beliefs.”

More famously, when speaking on the issues of homosexuality, he asked, “Who am I to judge?”

The Pope, as one of the world’s most well known figures, holds an enormous amount of sway over the 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, as well as non-Catholics. Therefore, the Pope has the ability to influence a significant portion of the world’s views. By bringing tolerance and discussion into focus of the Catholic church, he is bringing it into the focus of the world.

As Pope Francis said in his New Year’s speech,  if “the courage of dialogue and reconciliation prevail over the temptation for vendetta, arrogance, corruption” the world will be a better place.

The publicity the Pope has been getting for his talks on acceptance and have done great things for the Catholic church’s image. Senior Christiana Martin and junior Carly Siewert, both Catholic, have found that the Pope has improved people’s view of the church.

“There’s been so much controversy and a lot of hate that Catholics have been getting, and now suddenly people are like ‘Oh, the Pope is so cool!’” explained Siewert.

“It’s nice to hear people that are positive about the Pope because so often it’s just all this negative stuff about the Catholic church” added Martin.

Not only has the Pope reshaped the public’s view of the church, but he has also changed the church’s focus. Data journalist Chris Walker analyzed Pope Benedict’s and Pope Francis’ first 100 speeches and found very noticeable differences. He found that Benedict used words such as venerable,values, apostolic, and apostles much more than Francis. Francis, on the other hand used words such as poverty, poor, think, and everyone much more than Benedict.

While Pope Francis isn’t dismissing church politics, he is focusing on issues outside the church. This change is deceptively important to the world at large. By bringing irrefutably positive aspects of the faith, such as charitable giving, into the spotlight he is creating a more positive community.
“Our faith hasn’t changed, he’s just highlighted a different part of it,” explained Siewert. A church that focuses on issues outside of itself can certainly have a greater impact on the world.

“The church has sometimes locked itself up in small-minded rules. The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials,” said Pope Francis in a September interview. He has chosen to move away from this, focusing less on issues such as gay marriage, contraception, and abortion, issues which the church was famously vocal on.

“It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time,” explained Pope Francis when asked why he wasn’t discussing these issues as much as his predecessor. While these topics are important issues that should be addressed, the Pope, as one of the most well known figures in the world should be bringing the world’s attention to more pressing issues, such as poverty.

Pope Francis is certainly doing this. “Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal,” he wrote. In a speech shortly after he was elected,  Pope Francis explained his vision for the Catholic church. “Oh, how I would like a poor Church, and for the poor,” he said. As a poor church, close to the people, the church can have a lot more impact than a church wrapped up in “small-minded rules” such as church politics or the specific problems of contraception.

Pope Francis is working to create a more globally minded church by focusing on incredibly important issues such as poverty. By shifting focus away from issues that stir up controversy for the church, Pope Francis is creating a more positive Catholicism and a more socially conscious generation of Catholics.