I was raised as a Roman Catholic, though I gravitated towards atheism in my teen years and more recently back towards Christianity. Catholicism never particularly struck a chord with me as it features rituals, works and doctrines more heavily than I see necessary.
As such, I’ve often viewed Catholicism in a negative light as it seems to bind people up for the sake of tradition and money, rather than allowing people to be truly free.
Catholicism doesn’t exactly have a rosy image. It is seen as a money-hoarding, elitist, trust-breaking, abusive system stuck in the 1500s that has little care for humanity. And one can hardly blame the world for feeling that way given the stories that have come out of the organisation in the past 30 years.
Going hand-in-hand with Catholicism is the Pope himself. I’ve never thought much of the papacy but the election of Pope Francis in 2013 has changed my view of his office considerably.
It’s hard to deny that the man in charge of the world’s largest church is turning heads for the right reasons and making a shift away from the practices and policies of his predecessors. Pope Francis is a man of the people, shunning the luxury that his office affords him in favour of a simple lifestyle that doesn’t scream of elitism.
He seeks out the hungry, talks with the homeless and prays with the unfortunate. He’s definitely more humanitarian than any pope I can think of and more of a decent person than most people I know. He exhibits love by caring for the most in need in a world where inequality continues to grow.
While I’ll never return to Catholicism, the Pope’s kindness and humanity rates him very highly in my eyes. He’s doing a world of good for the image of the Catholic church (which desperately needs it) and for the people he encounters. Good on him. May his successors take note and take a leaf out of his book.