There has been much media attention focused on the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis I, as his actions and words have caused a stir among many faithful and non-faithful alike. The Pope has exhibited a different type of leadership style than that of Benedict XVI or even the beloved Pope John Paul II; a style that many Catholics have rarely seen in their leaders, especially as the Catholic Church has recently been distracted and put on the defensive by controversy, moral debates and scandal. It seems as if Francis I has ushered in a kinder, gentler, accepting and more understanding way of teaching and governing; some would even say it is a more “Christian” like Church than what they’ve grown to know and what others have come to believe.
“And I am happy today too, that the followers of different religious confessions are joining us in our prayer for peace…,” said the Pope in his all-inclusive Christmas message last month “And I also invite nonbelievers to desire peace with that yearning that makes the heart grow: all united, either by prayer or by desire. But all of us, for peace.”
In the current age of constant media scrutiny of those with any measurable amount of influence, it really shouldn’t be surprising that Francis I has garnered such attention by bringing what feels like a new perspective on what have traditionally been hot button topics for the Church, such as divorce, homosexuality and birth control. His gentle condemnation of the opulent lifestyle of some Catholic hierarchy and the consequences of unfettered Capitalism, as well as his work with the poor and the way he has addressed the sex abuse scandals that have rocked the church in the last decade have people talking –Catholic and non-Catholic alike.
But is Pope Francis really the “renegade” that some seem to think? Is his message really that different from what the Church has always said?
Father Joe Evanko and Father Jerry Shantillo, Pastor and Assistant Pastor of Saint Jude and St. Mary’s Catholic churches, believes that the message is the same, but the pope’s style has created an awareness for people to have a deeper experience through their beliefs, opening up the opportunity for self-reflection and dialogue about some very significant issues for Catholics.
“There is nothing different in terms of the teaching,” says Fr. Joe “He is helping us realize that everybody is a child of God and we need to reach out and understand each other. A lot of moral issues have
See Pope page 9