BY ELIZABETH WONG
In following the news and having conversations with fellow Catholics, I’ve noticed that there is a whole spectrum of talk and controversy surrounding our new pontiff, Pope Francis.
On one hand, people have been seeing him as a hater and a bigot because he believes in marriage between one man and one woman, and that adoption by homosexual couples is “discrimination against the child.” Naturally, they say, you can’t expect much else from the Catholic Church in today’s world.
On the other hand, others have seen him as a liberally-leaning destroyer of tradition because he washed women’s feet (one of the women being a Muslim) during this past Holy Thursday liturgy, which was held not inside the Vatican, but at a juvenile delinquency center. Interestingly enough, many of these people also say that you can’t expect much else from the Catholic Church in today’s world.
One moment he is vilified (or praised) for not wearing the traditional red papal shoes, worn famously by his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Another moment he is praised (or vilified) for speaking out strongly about the need to go to confession regularly.
I just find it fascinating that this elderly man from Argentina has the ability to cause so much global controversy in such simple words and actions. Let me correct that: in the eyes of a practicing Catholic, Pope Francis is certainly more than just an elderly man from Argentina. He is the shepherd of Christ’s sheep and the successor of St. Peter; he is the leader of the Catholic Church on earth.
But as the mainstream media continue to be baffled about how to view this pope, it is hard for the regular person to determine what all is going on.
I think this pope, quite interestingly, refuses to be placed in a particular box. And at the very least, he’s keeping everyone guessing about his next move.
For what it’s worth, I believe Pope Francis has indeed brought about many needed conversations among Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
Conversations have frequently brought up a proper understanding of the liturgy, understanding Church’s tradition and also understanding the Church’s true sense of social justice. These conversations are causing people to actually research what the Catholic Church is all about when it comes to crucial issues.
And I don’t see a problem in that.
Full of surprises, Pope Francis is no ordinary man. We have yet to see what he will do in the Church, but I hope and pray that we as believers will continue to learn and grow with him as he takes on his new position as Holy Father.