The more I learn of Pope Francis, the more impressed I am with him. And it's not just me, of course. God's man at the Vatican is having a profound impact on people worldwide. Just this past week after Cuba's leader, Raul Castro, met privately with the Pope, he declared that he is considering returning to the Church. It's not the stodgy old Catholic Church pulling the errant revolutionary back into the fold, its the warmth and compassion of the fellow wearing the white robe and the big ring.
This Pope is one cool dude. He gets on his knees and washes the feet of the poor. He personally calls on the ill and the infirm. He recently made a phone call to a man in Rome who was reportedly ill. The fellow hung up on Pope Francis twice before he became convinced that he actually was speaking to the leader of the Catholic Church. The Pope reportedly took being hung up on in good humor.
The thing I like best about this Pope, however, is his willingness (almost an eagerness) to take stands on controversial issues - issues other than abortion or gay rights. He is, to some extent at least, a man of science who speaks knowledgeably of climate change and global warming, and doesn't hesitate to upbraid those who deny the problem or engage in activities which worsen its impact.
Pope Francis has also waded into the waters of international politics. The Vatican, under his guidance, has now officially joined the majority of the world's nations in officially recognizing the state of Palestine. A few days ago, the Pope called Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of Palestine, an "angel of peace." Mr. Abbas was undoubtedly honored to be called an angel of peace by a true angel of peace.
It just doesn't get much better than that.
The Pope will be in America this fall and one of his stops will be in Washington, DC, where he will address a joint session of Congress. He may find the Republican majority, with their hearts of cold stone, a bit harder to deal with than Raul Castro and Mahmoud Abbas. However, if anyone can infuse those bitter politicians with a bit of humanity, it will be this Pope.
Thank you, Pope Francis, for bringing the sunshine and warmth back into the Catholic Church. May your legacy embrace eternity.