Whatever you think of the Pope, he knows the power of pulpit, symbol, & compassion. He walks in the way of faith, hope, & love.

Today it was reported that Pope Francis met with 2o women who were rescued from the sex trafficking trade. He again showed spiritual leadership. It led me to post this blog (it was posted elsewhere) to highlight him as an example of compassion and leadership.

I have no desire to argue the merits of the papacy, nor do I want to explore why Protestants disagree with Roman Catholic theology.  Suffice to say, I am Protestant, believe in justification by faith alone, and I do not think there is any merit to join the “Roman church.” None-the-less, Pope Francis, as our brother in Christ has much to teach us.

Pope Francis knows the power of the pulpit.

That is, the bully pulpit.  The Pope has picked his themes carefully, spoken about them clearly, and has done so memorably.  Consider the following poignant examples from “The Quotable Pope Francis,” National Catholic Reporter, September 17, 2015

Disposable Culture:

June 5, 2013. (M)en and women are sacrificed to the idols of profit and consumption: this is “scrap culture,” the culture of the disposable. … A person who dies is not a news story, but a 10-point drop in the stock market is a tragedy! So people are discarded, as if they were trash.

God is in Everyone’s Life:

Sept. 30, 2013. I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in everyone’s life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else — God is in this person’s life.

Women’s Role:

July 28, 2013. The Church is feminine. She is Church, she is bride, she is mother. But … the role of women in the Church must not be limited to being mothers, workers, a limited role. … No! … I believe that we have much more to do in making explicit this role and charism of women.

Francis uses bold and memorable language.

Pope Francis knows the power of symbol

While dealing with the hot-button issues of the LGBT community and women’s roles in the church, he symbolically ended a contentious matter with a woman’s religious order in the church — quietly and graciously.  While not changing the teaching of the church, he has reached out in compassion to the LGBT community.  He has made it a hallmark of his papacy to deal with the horror of sexual abuse by priests, and deal with the Bishops who turned a blind eye to this evil.  Symbolically, he has met with victims around the world.  Symbolically, he has eschewed the trappings of power and prestige, choosing to live humbly.  Had he lived in the “papal palace” he could not speak about “a poor church caring for the poor.”

Pope Francis knows the power of compassion

By always emphasizing his role as a pastor to the sheep, Francis has understood the old adage: “people don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” Francis cares for all people in a transparent and genuine way.  If it was words only, they would not respond.  But by joining actions (think symbol) and words, he has connected to people around the world, Catholic and non-Catholic.

Pope Francis walks in the way of faith, hope, and love

Pope Francis understands spiritual leadership.  How can we improve on the “trinity” of faith, hope, and love?  He has called people to stand firm in the faith. He had has offered hope to all people – that the church is here for the broken, the oppressed, the marginalized.  He has shown love to all.  When we are called even to love our enemies, how could we do less?

He has walked in the way of faith, hope, and love, and in that he is a model for us all.