Pope Francis Sets Example to Modern Religious Leadership
Published: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 14:09
A few years back when the world-renowned news organizations such as The New York Times, The Guardian and many others were reporting various incidents connected to underage sexual abuse and financial mismanagement of the Catholic Church, I contemplated how institutionalization of religion could break the liaison between the church and its people. The big and powerful Catholic Church with its magnificent and glorious past was no longer a spiritual or influential place. My conclusions were somewhat hasty, and it did not arrive with careful observations of how the Catholics operated worldwide. Nevertheless, I was plainly disappointed how leadership of the church failed to make the world a better place, which I believe what all religious leadership should do. Even though I was not a Catholic, nor a person who believed in any organized religion, I always respected the discipline that that a group of genuine believers created among the community they brought together. I felt that spirituality solely cannot function in this world without discipline, and discipline without spirituality was all meaningless practice.
In March 2013, when the white smoke poured out of the Sistine Chapel chimney, when the Catholic Church declared Pope Francis as the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics around the world, I was not disinterested—at least as much as I was interested—to know when the present pope’s predecessor was elected. “Another Pope, another old religious figurehead.” These were the words that came to my head. However, since Pope Francis’ inauguration, I have observed a continuous progress in the Catholic Church and its vision for the world.
I would like to describe a series of events that makes me think the leadership of the Catholic Church is improving. At first, Pope Francis was questioned when he washed and kissed the feet of two female prison inmates, mirroring Jesus Christ washing his disciples feet. Then he made some controversial comments in the eyes of conservative Catholics about gay people being able to practice their faith without any judgment. According to telegraph.co.uk, Pope Francis said, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Pope Francis’ visit to Brazil and his address to millions of young people in the Copacabana Beach was another progressive move that proved he recognizes the future lies in the hands of young people.
Finally, I have to admit that I decided to write this article because I got to know about the letter that Pope Francis wrote to La Repubblica newspaper as a response to a question rose whether God forgives non-believers. Pope Francis assured that as long as one follows their conscience, God forgives them. Also the pope called for an open dialogue between atheists and Christians. Pope Francis’ message may not mean a lot to some independent non-believers or to some agnostics. But as a member of the world community, Pope Francis’ assurance means a lot to me. I think regardless of rebuilding the Catholic Church, the pope has shown the spirit of peaceful leadership that unites people, rather than dividing them. I respect and welcome the conservatives who disagree with pope’s position but they have to understand that Pope Francis’ comments are creating harmony among different religious and non-religious peoples who want to live in peace and harmony with each other. I feel that religious readers of any religion should do this and Pope Francis is setting a great example to this leadership model.
Samantha is a senior majoring in journalism.