With all their wisdom and kindness duly noted, both John Paul II and Benedict XVI were formal and authoritative. Nice smiles, though, from both of them.
“Defender of the Faith” would not be the first title that would come to mind when thinking about smiling Pope Francis. “Pontifex” would be better.
Pope Francis as Pontifex, is, indeed a bridge-builder. He continues to make efforts to link the Catholic Church with other religions. The Jewish Community, Moslems and various protestant churches from Anglican to Evangelical are among the religious groups that have been greeted warmly by Pope Francis in 2013. Pope Francis will continue this inclusive outreach in 2014.
Pope Francis is warm and informal but he clearly loves the Church and upholds its doctrines. Anyone who reads his writings or listens to his talks can see that this pope is an authentic teacher who defends the Faith with firmness. Pope Francis is Roman Catholic to his core.
When he celebrates the great sign of the Faith, the Eucharist, we see demonstrated his devotion to Christ and the Church. When he speaks, Pope Francis upholds the truths of the faith as he sees them –and, lives them. I expect that in 2014, Pope Francis will continue to challenge Catholics to live authentic Christian lives.
I am still thinking about the remarkable statement he made recently. Pope Francis asked how is it that an elderly man dying in the street is not newsworthy but a two point drop in the stock market is. Quite a question.
In 2014, Pope Francis will continue to make the Church aware of how urgent it is to care for what the old testament calls the “anawim,” the poor of the Lord. The poor are suffering throughout the world. Pope Francis sees in these poor, the suffering Jesus. He wants us to see Him, too.