An update from NPR about the recent papal encyclical confirmed my suspicions. The other night, at the end of the hourly newscast, listeners heard an excerpt from Lumen Fidei: “Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey.” On NPR. Something’s up with this pope.
This weekend, Equire magazine proclaimed, “It’s Time to Admit: Pope Francis Is Kind of Awesome“. Stephen Marche, a self-described atheist, highlights one of Francis’s first acts after being elected, paying his room bill:
Paying a bill is a small but vital gesture — it is the most ordinary way that normal people fulfill their obligations. It was the first in a series of moves that have established Pope Francis I as, by far, the coolest, most interesting and potentially revolutionary Pope in memory.
He goes on to contrast Francis and his predecessor, Benedict XVI:
These little gestures make a big difference. The Catholic Church may be the last major institution in the world that makes a coherent argument against total absorption in consumer capitalism. It was one thing to hear Benedict XVI talk about the poor — on a golden throne draped in ermine. It’s quite another to hear it from a guy on the minibus who pays his bills.
What’s attracting the attention of liberal news outlets and trendy atheists? I’d argue it’s Francis’s apparent humility, simplicity, and authenticity. There’s lots of garbage in the news everyday, individuals who swindle and exploit. Institutions, including the Catholic Church, that lie and deceive. Governments that can’t serve their people. So when a leader not only speaks up for the powerless, but acts in a way that shows he’s seriously committed to the cause, the world takes note. Is Pope Francis revolutionary? Will he remind the world that the Gospel is a message of hope for all? Can he help rehabilitate the Catholic Church? It might be too early to tell, but so far, it appears Esquire’s on to something.