The Media’s Fascination With Pope Francis
I use Yahoo as my web browser, and I find it interesting that there usually are 4-5 articles each day about Pope Francis’s comings and goings. Pope Francis said this…Pope Francis is coming to the United States…the Pope did this… the Pope did that…the Pope said pets go to heaven too.
I am Catholic, so I am naturally inclined to check these stories out, as they are of interest to me. There are a ton of us Catholics, so I understand the media’s need to report on his activities. However, I don’t remember Pope Benedict getting the same amount of press. I think if one were pressed as to why Pope Francis is generating such interest; the answer is obvious to Catholic and non-Catholics alike.
Pope Benedict, whether it was warranted or not, had a reputation of being unbending. His public persona was that of someone who was judgmental…un-approachable. Pope Francis has the polar opposite persona. Deserving or not, he is thought to be thoughtful, unassuming, kind, gentle. His appeal has grown world-wide to the point where even non-Catholics respect him.
Cynically, nothing concrete has changed within the church. The church’s position on all the key issues remains the same under Francis as they were under Benedict.
And yet, everything has changed with Francis simply with his leadership style
Our world leaders, our business leaders, anyone in authority would be well served to take a few pages out of the Pope’s playbook. Honestly, we all could follow his lead.
First, avoid the trappings of your office. Serve humbly. Earn respect-don’t demand it.
Second, lead by example. Don’t ask of others what you, yourself, are unwilling to do.
Third, work towards finding commonality of purpose with others, instead of building division which you then exploit.
Fourth, love those who may be hard to love. It is easy to love the people who agree with you. Learn to love and respect those whose lifestyle is different from yours, whose faith is different than yours, whose skin color is different than yours.
While the world is hungry for someone like Pope Francis to lead the way out of this moral quagmire we find ourselves in, the answer doesn’t reside in the Pope…the answer resides within each one of us. We all have the capacity to change the world around us. While he may have a larger platform upon which to influence others, the power to positively change the world does not reside in Rome…it resides in your home.
The media’s fascination with the new Pope reflects a certain naivety about what it means to live a faith filled life. I suspect that a great many in the media are following the Pope hoping for a crack in what they consider to be the church’s rigidity. They are sort of like the student in school finding out a substitute is filling in for a teacher who is out sick. They look for any opening to not abide by the rules and standards previously established. Ironically, when you become an adult and look back at your school days, you realize the teachers who pressed you to do your best are the ones you value the most.
I would suspect that the world’s fascination with the Pope also has to do with a yearning for a different approach to how to deal with our everyday lives. It has less to do with the Pope and Catholic doctrine, and more with a change in how people are facing their problems. The last five decades of wanting to go it alone hasn’t worked…in fact, it has only made things worse. People’s hearts are burdened, and then they see this man thriving in the same world they are sinking in…and they want what he has. They want the inner peace that can only God can supply.
The following poem was above Mother Teresa’s desk at her orphanage in Calcutta. It really sums up how Pope Francis approaches life. We would all do well to post this up in our own homes and offices. Think of it as an early Christmas present for ourselves and our loved ones…
Mother Teresa's Anyway Poem
People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.