Philadelphia—Pope Francis sits on the most exalted throne on earth with no army or kingdom, beyond a tight fist of land in the middle of Rome that is filled with immense wealth of history He was elected Pope because of his relationship with heaven.
It is said that when they handed their ballots with his name on it, it was almost a sacrament.
The papacy is mysterious and magical. It turned a septuagenarian into a superstar. While revealing almost nothing about himself, a thousand and more days before, he raised hopes in every corner of the world, which perhaps never could have been fulfilled.
We think of the elderly traditional clergy who pine for the old Latin mass and a young devoted women who wishes she could be a priest. Both have hopes.
Rarely has anyone on the world stage captured so much attention and admiration — young or old, faithful or cynic, rich or poor — who has placed him or herself at the very central conversation of our time. The pope spoke of wealth and poverty, fairness and injustice of transparency, modernity, globalization, the role of women, the nature of marriage and the temptation of power, all in a leadership rare in our time. He has kissed the face of a disfigured man, washed the feet of a Muslim woman, offered to baptize the child of a divorced woman, posed with a man for a selfie, others that do not want to let go of his hand even though ushers and security guards try to keep him from moving — all acts that have resonated beyond the boundaries of the Catholic Church. He knows that before his day is over, he has more pilgrims to meet, missions to launch and words to speak.
His Holiness says, don’t just preach, listen, don’t scold, words won’t change, but the tone and temperament will, including the music. His focus is on compassion and he prays all the time.
He doesn’t seem older than his actual year. His attitude is mild, deliberately humble. His voice is soft, deliberately suave. He knows how to be brilliant by modeling mercy and transparency. One starts thinking of Rennaisance popes that led an army into a war.
The pope is not only a spiritual leader, but also a Head of State. One wonders if he ever struggled in not allowing the spiritual power to be confused with temporal power and in keeping a religious power to be confused for becoming a political one? Even as we know that the Church should interest itself in all aspects of life, Christian religion doesn’t confuse itself. While taking care of the moral progress of mankind, it is also concerned with its social well being.
We already know that he has pulled papacy out of the Palace into the streets with balance judgement and mercy, magnifying the message of the Church and its power to do good.
There will be a general aura of merriment when Pope Francis celebrates the World Meeting of Families here in Philadelphia. The Festival of Families is an international celebration of family, community and faith.