Among the fulfillments of the American constitution is the allowance it creates for religious freedom. Anyone can find indication of that provision by the numerous church steeples that dot this land, from San Francisco to D.C. It’s a remarkable thing to see differing faiths thriving peaceably in the same place when one considers the religious tensions present in many other parts of the world.
Because the American people collectively represent a variety of church groups, we foster respect among alternate ways of looking at the world by becoming familiar with what other people believe. Speaking to this idea of respect, Pope Francis, the church’s leader, said:
“Communication is born from an attitude of respect for the other person, from a conviction that the other person has something good to express. It assumes that there is room in the heart for the person’s point of proposal, opinion, and view. Dialogue involves a cordial reception, not a prior condemnation. In order to dialogue, it is necessary to know the ways to lower the defenses, open the doors of the house, and offer human warmth.”
Francis is a person who has lived this idea, promoting outreach to those on the periphery– both in terms of other faiths, along with those who are often overlooked by society, involving the underprivileged and poor. Throughout his years as a religious leader, he has demonstrated an inclination to accompany those of other religions to enhance each other, including offering support to Jews, Muslims, and other factions of Christianity, too.
As pope, he has shown a bend toward simplicity through opting for not to live in the papal apartment at the Vatican, and proceeding to wear the cross he wore as an archbishop in place of the gold cross that was worn by popes that went before him. He seems to prefer less pomp and remains, instead, more concerned about the poor, about everyone being viewed as sisters and brothers. One could see that this was his focus long before he became the pope. When he became the Archbishop of Argentina, the residence of the archbishop had blankets and food inside, and he took those things and gave them to people who needed them.
While serving in that same position, he also delighted people because he answered his own number in place of having other people vet calls for him. Also, he decided to use public transportation because it made it possible for him to communicate with people and see life through their lens. As he has said, “You don’t call the people to the churches; you must be where the people are.”
While born in Argentina, he speaks many languages besides his native Spanish. He has an ideal love for the tango and for soccer (as most Argentinians do!). He was raised by his grandmother, and chose to pursue the holy life after having an experience that transformed him when he went in for confession as a youth.
He has consistently focused on themes of service, faith, love, reaching out to the poverty-stricken and less fortunate, protecting life, and the importance of marriage. He has emphasized to us that “when we forget our brothers and sisters who are enduring, we are sowing a seed of violence.” And, in a world that seems perpetually emphasized getting ahead at all costs, he offers this gentle reminder: “Let us never forget that authentic power is service.” Francis is an example of one dedicated to his beliefs and committed to letting those beliefs alter his behaviors in everyday life.
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(The relevant information for this article originated from the following sources: