If you follow any source of news, you will be well aware of the Catholic Church’s recent election of the highest possible earthly leader. There was much hype surrounding the entire event, and now that someone has been thrust into the limelight, I think it’s important to know who he is.
We probably already know his name: former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aries, now known to everyone as Pope Francis I. The new face of the Catholic Church.
I don’t know him personally, but from the articles I’ve read about him, I like what I’m reading and think there could be progressive change in store for faith communities. One of the things that surprised me most about this pope is his love for students. A close friend of his, recently interviewed in Relevant Magazine, said this about him: “His main burden was young people. He would get together with 30 young people if he could. He was very sincere, very transparent. He said to me once, ‘You know I envy you. You get hundreds of thousands of young people in a beach or a park. I only get 30 or 60 of them and I’m having a hard time.’” Of course, as a youth leader, that makes me both happy and curious.
But even more, it seems the newly minted Pope has a desire to see faith communities bridge gaps that have long separated us by painful memories of the history between evangelicals and Catholics; he has a desire to see the two refocus. Again, from Relevant Magazine: “His bridge-building is about fighting together for moral causes based in Scripture. We know there are differences between Christianity and the Roman Catholic theology, but those can be handled when there are gentle attitudes between us.”
I have to say, I support this desire more than anything. I long for the day when Christian boundaries (though appropriate) aren’t the reasoning behind exclusion. God created different perspectives of faith in the same way he created different trees of the wood. But at the end of the day, it’s still a forest with an ecological self-sustainment. But without the other trees to support each other, the forest soon withers and dies away.
Time will spell out how well this man leads. I pray for him, his leadership, and I ask God to keep his heart close.
- Do you like the idea of church communities working closer together?
- Do you think this pope will lead with dignity and honor?
- What can the Reformed Church do to reconcile its relationship with the Catholic Church?