Today is the one year anniversary of white smoke lifting out of a Vatican chimney and Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio stepping onto the balcony to wish us, “Good evening.” The New York Times, CNN, and the American Jesuits each have put their best foot forward to explain Francis’s effect on the Church, an effect that I believe will take decades to savor and digest. In fact, those are just a few of the many news services that are picking up on the importance of Francis’s paper anniversary by putting on paper and screen their thoughts on the “Francis effect.” (Of course , if you want to celebrate Pope Francis’s paper anniversary with an actual paper product, then look no further than The Jesuit Post’s very own book! It’s called – wait for it – The Jesuit Post: #Faith #God #Frontiers #Culture #Mystery #Love and it’s available now!)
Part of me really wanted to do the TJP equivalent of a sitcom clip-show and rehash Francis’s Greatest Hits. Then I said to myself, “Boring! Why don’t you do your own research and ask those most important to you – you know, your Facebook friends – how Pope Francis has influenced them?”
So that’s what I did. I asked friends to complete the sentence “This year Pope Francis has____________.” Here are three responses that are emblematic of the whole:
1. “This year Pope Francis has made me rethink my views on organized religion.”
2. “This year Pope Francis has made me think more about what I should do as a Roman Catholic, instead of what I should not.”
3. “This year Pope Francis has shown, through humility and love, that the message of Christ is accessible and present.”
First, for those who are alienated from the church, Francis seems to represent a new-found respect for the Catholic Church specifically and for organized religion in general. Then, for those within the church, the stereotypical Catholic guilt seems to have been peeled away a bit. Catholics can now focus on what they can and should do – as opposed to fretting over what is forbidden. Finally, it seems that the church has a pope whose teaching, preaching, and manner of proceeding are understandable to prelate and plebeian, Catholic and non-Catholic alike.
If those are the Francis side effects, then I’m going to run to the pharmacy and get a refill.
But what do you think? Let us know in the comments below how you would complete the sentence “This year Pope Francis has ___________.”
Image “Rome – March 31, 2013: Philip Chidell / Shutterstock.com
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