Pope Francis is considered one of the most humble and caring popes. From declining dinner with politicians so that he could have dinner with the homeless, to the acceptance he has displayed for people from all different walks of life, Pope Francis doesn’t fail to impress people with his acts of love and kindness. Quite recently, Pope Francis stopped his car so he could kiss and bless a young boy he saw who had cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a disorder that causes difficulty in muscle movement. The boy, his parents, and his siblings were some of the many who waited to see Pope Francis that day, and luckily enough, it was Pope Francis who spotted them. As soon as Pope Francis saw the boy in the wheelchair, he asked for his driver to stop the car, got out, kissed the boy on the forehead, and said a blessing for him. Pope Francis also shook his parents’ and siblings’ hands. Moments like these show that Pope Francis just wants happiness amongst all individuals simply because everyone deserves to be happy.
Unlike several previous popes, Pope Francis shows that he can connect with people both within and outside of the Catholic faith. He believes that religion shouldn’t act as a barrier, but as something to unify all human beings. As stated in Pope Francis’ speech at the White House, we are lucky to live in a country where there is religious tolerance. There are people all over the world who are being harassed, persecuted, and even killed because of their faith and their beliefs. Religion is a gift no matter who or what you believe in, because it gives you motivation, hope, and faith.
Pope Francis is also well known because of how accepting he has been of all types of people. For example, Pope Francis is more accepting of the LGBTQ community than previous popes. He hasn’t explicitly said that he fully supports them, but he has said that if they are a person with good morals and has good will, then “he is not one to judge.” This is very significant because many people immediately associate Catholics with opposition to gay marriage or a lack of support for the LGBTQ community, even though not every single Catholic is against gay rights. Our religion may shape our beliefs, but it doesn’t determine our opinions on topics such as gay marriage. There will always be haters, but there are haters outside of the Catholic faith, too. It is unfair and stereotypical to think that all Catholics are against gay marriage. Pope Francis has shown people that this isn’t true. Pope Francis has made it clear that a person shouldn’t be judged based on their sexuality, rather acknowledged for their ability to do good.
You may be wondering why I’m writing this article. Pope Francis has been all over the news anyway, so why do I have to write about it? Well, I was lucky enough to win tickets to see the Pope in Central Park on Friday, September 27th. Meeting the Pope was such an amazing and humbling experience. I arrived at around 11:30 am, and as soon as I approached the area, I saw a seemingly endless line that wrapped around the gates of Central Park. After waiting for approximately 4 hours on line, we finally got to security check and were allowed inside the actual venue. Luckily, I got a spot right behind the barricade, which is the closest you could get. After finally getting inside the actual park and finding our spots, we waited for another two hours. At around 6:00, we finally saw him. There in his “Pope Mobile” was Pope Francis, the “People’s Pope.” He stood, smiling and waving at the crowds of people who felt blessed to be so close to him. Even though we each saw Pope Francis for approximately ten seconds, it was still definitely worth the wait. Seeing an influential Catbolic meant a lot to me and just made me extremely happy.
A faculty member of BSGE, Mr. Freddy Giraldo, also attended the procession in Central Park to see Pope Francis. For Mr. Giraldo, the experience wasn’t necessarily about “becoming more religious” or “reconnecting with his religion.” Mr. Giraldo went because not only did he feel lucky to have won tickets, but also he felt that being blessed by Pope Francis was going to impact him in a way different from others. Mr. Giraldo claims that Pope Francis is “special,” but he doesn’t know why. He thinks maybe it is because “he’s charismatic, or because he has wonderful, new ideas and he’s more open to new things. He’s not as traditional as the other ones. This one cares about people; with this one [he] felt love, [he] felt hope. It’s not that he’s the traditional, religious guy that says that you have to go to church every Sunday.” Previously, Mr. Giraldo saw Pope Benedict XVI, but he just didn’t feel the connection that he felt with Pope Francis. Being the first Latin American pope, Pope Francis brings hope to people and shows that ethnicity and language shouldn’t act as a barrier for change. Many of Pope Francis’ speeches are in Spanish because he thinks that he would be able to better express his ideas in his native language. The Pope uses Catholicism as a platform for sending a message of global acceptance and togetherness.