How we can learn from Pope Francis

"I'll just go with the guys on the bus." Pope Francis

Rarely does it occur that a man promoted to a high position of leadership remains humble and expresses his love for helping the poor and marginalised within their community.  Pope Francis is one such man.

The Catholic Church, with circa 1.3 Billion adherents (and arguably having some level of influence over another circa 700 million non-Catholic Christians), is one of the largest and most influential organisations in the world, if not the largest.  The Papacy therefore is a position that has major influence; one that is constantly being monitored by the press for media stories available for publication, both positive and negative.

And yet, whilst not changing the fundamentals of the Catholic faith (a thing, which Catholics believe can't be done, due to the infallibility and thus irrevocability of decisions made previously by the Papacy), Pope Francis has made both a number of practical changes and breaks with traditions that have crept into the Catholic Church over time.

These changes appear to be, rather than an attempt to change the fundamentals of the Catholic Faith, an attempt to bring the Church back to them.  Here are some - but not all - of the examples that the Pope has done to change things during his time as Pope:
  • He was the first Pope to take the name of Francis of Assisi, thus creating better relationships between the Jesuits (his order) and the Franciscan order.
  • He was the first Pope to not take the name of a predecessor (or a combination of predecessors names) in hundreds of years.
  • He has stopped wearing the Papal vestments, such as the red garments and shoes, and wears a silver rather than gold (such as his crucifix, ring, etc.).
  • He took a ride home on the bus after being appointed the new pope rather than taking the Pope-mobile.
  • He increased the Church's accountability for the sex-abuse crisis.
  • He is furthering work on inter-faith dialogue.
  • He included women in the feet-washing traditions of the Church that take place during Easter.
  • He allowed priests to forgive women of the sin of abortion, as opposed to them having to be absolved by a Bishop.
  • He eliminated the bonuses paid for the appointment of a new Pope, and sacked a bishop for spending circa $42.5m on his new residency.
  • He sold the Pope-mobile and bought a second-hand, cheaper car.
  • He has emphasised the dangers of climate change.
  • He's working on eliminating financial corruption within the Vatican bank.
  • He revised the marriage annulment process.
  • He (allegedly) dresses as a regular priest to go and feed the poor and provide alms to those in need.
  • He has refused to live in the Papal apartment, and is having it turned into a museum to ensure it is not used as a Papal apartment by his successors.
  • He has encouraged parishes to take in migrants.
  • He has encouraged catholics not to be judgmental of homosexuals, but rather to love them.
Change takes time.  Nevertheless, Pope Francis is being innovative in areas where he can be to ensure that change commences during his Papacy.

It appears that his hope is that these changes will continue post him leaving his position, which will occur either via death or resignation.  It's fair to say that in our own individual lives, we could all take a leaf out of the book of Pope Francis' examples.

In what ways could you mimic some of the examples of Pope Francis to reassert love and humility in your life?