Admit it – Pope Francis is awesome.
The historic day he was announced will forever be engraved in my memory, much like 9/11 and the killing of Osama bin Laden. At my Catholic high school, we were herded like cattle into the library where a projector was live streaming the election. We watched together with bated breath for the election of a new pope, with all eyes fixed on the tiny chimney perched on the roof of the Sistine Chapel for a sign of either black or white smoke.
When the white smoke finally came billowing out of the chimney (signifying the new pope had been elected), cheers echoed throughout the hallways. I knew that he would be different as soon as the news announced he had taken the name Francis – the first pope to ever choose this name after St. Francis of Assisi.
I did not, however, anticipate how different Pope Francis would be. The change between Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI is almost comparable to the change between tween and teen Miley Cyrus.
Pope Francis came in like a wrecking ball and he has not stopped the much needed reconstruction process.
From the moment the pope began his papacy, he sparked the media's interest by refusing to wear the signature red shoes designed by Prada, preferring to ride in a used car opposed to the "pope mobile," and choosing to live in the guest house instead of the designated papal apartment. Even when his hometown of Buenos Aires constructed a statue in honor of him, he politely asked them to take it down.
According to the Huffington Post, a "knowledgeable source" confirmed that the pope was sneaking into the city at night disguised as a regular priest and ministering to the homeless.
Not only is he humble, but he is not afraid to let his sense of humor show through. At an Italian charity that uses humor to help sick children, Pope Francis happily joined in the merriment by donning a clown nose. That's got to be a papal first, right? He confessed to stealing rosary beads at mass, and recent news reports stated that Pope Francis made a rare error in the Italian language while delivering the Sunday blessing at St. Peter's Square – a slight mispronunciation led to him inadvertently dropping the "F-bomb."
Beyond his humility and humor, however, it has been his leadership that has been most beneficial to his church. Pope Francis released an "Apostolic Exhortation" that laid out poverty and economic inequality as two of the main concerns of this papacy. By lessening the focus on social issues and heightening the awareness of issues more appropriate for Christians, he has changed the tone of one of the world's most influential organizations.
Pope Francis even enlightened people with his view on homosexuals. The fact that Pope Francis is clarifying that we should not condemn gays, just the act, is the best he could do in his position for homosexuals. Perhaps it is not the most I would like done about the issue, but I understand the position Francis is in and even the statements he has been making lately have made some Catholics uneasy. I do not by any means think that Pope Francis is nearly as "liberal" as the media has been portraying, but he is definitely a refreshing change to some traditions of the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis's views have paid off as more churches throughout the world have reported larger turnouts at Sunday masses and even an increase in new members. Even other religions have respect for Francis.
Pope Francis celebrated the end of Ramadan this year by reaching out to Muslims. "I want to send a hello to Muslims around the world," he said. "I hope that Christians and Muslims engage in mutual respect, especially through the education of new generations."
Like I said, Pope Francis one cool pope and a strong role model for all. I look forward to more to come from this ever humble saint-in-the-making.
Kaila Curry is a freshman in English. She can be reached at email@example.com.