Pope Francis defies stereotypes

Over the past few years Pope Francis has been in the news several times. Although this is to be expected – he is the Catholic Pope after all – I believe his messages of humility and peace are worthy of attention.

Before I go on I would like to make it clear that I am not Catholic. I freely admit I am a bit ignorant of most Catholic practices and beliefs. This is in part because I was never fully exposed to them, and also because I have always, hypocritically, judged Catholicism as judgmental.

Pope Francis, however, has received international attention from Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Arguably, this started on his first day of Papacy when he showed a strong aversion to materialism.

Today, Pope Francis is getting attention for inviting Diego Lejarraga, a transgender man, and his fiancé to have dinner at the Vatican. Although Lejarraga won’t speak about what was said, the Pope’s gesture shows kindness towards a people who have long been ostracized from the church as a whole.

This is not the first time Pope Francis has surprised us with his humble gestures. He has been documented baptizing the children of unwed mothers and kissing the feet of criminals. His continued mission to bring a voice, and compassion, to those less fortunate in our world has been an inspiring one.

Just recently the Vatican hosted a raffle for the many presents the Pope has been given since he took office. The winners were announced on Jan. 8 and all of the proceeds for this event went to charity. Some of these items included a four wheel drive Panda Fiat car, a racing bike, and a coffee maker. The tickets only cost 10 Euros (about $12.50).

One of the things I absolutely love about Pope Francis is his Twitter account. I personally don’t use Twitter because 140 characters has never been enough for what I need to say. Pope Francis, however, does a wonderful job with his. It’s filled with inspirational messages ranging from why we should help the poor, to messages for young people, to why the World Cup has an important role in our society.

My favorite tweet of his so far, posted back in May of 2014, reads, “I ask everyone with political responsibility to remember two things: human dignity and the common good.”

He has traveled the world promoting peace and mercy. On January 24, 2015, Pope Francis gave a speech about communication and its potential role in settling the unrest between religions. “The most effective antidote against all forms of violence is education… and acceptance of differences,” he said, according to the Catholic News Agency. I believe this to be an eye opening truth.

You don’t have to be Catholic, or even Christian, to appreciate Pope Francis and the direction he is trying to bring the church. After all is said and done, it doesn’t matter which religion or denomination he is. What matters is that he’s actively trying to make the world a better place.

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