Five reasons people of all faiths are crazy about Pope Francis

He’s been called the Most Interesting Man in the World by Esquire Magazine. He was named Man of the Year by Vanity Fair. The Jewish Daily Forward honored him as one of its 50 Noteworthy and Newsworthy Jews, despite him not being Jewish. He is Pope Francis, the Catholic Church’s first Jesuit pope, and in less than a year, he has captivated the world. Here are five reasons why.

1. He cares for people regardless of affiliation, gender or orientation as demonstrated by some of his memorable quotes on inclusivity.

  • On women: “Because ‘the feminine genius is needed in all expressions in the life of society, the presence of women must also be guaranteed in the workplace’ and in the various other settings where important decisions are made, both in the Church and in social structures.”
  • On homosexuality: “Who am I to judge?”
  • On the Jewish tradition: “The Jews are our older brothers.”
  • On atheism: “Even atheists can get to heaven, if they follow their conscience and do good.”

2. He finds God in all things.

  • He is always smiling, bringing peace to the hearts of all who meet him.
  • His namesake, St. Francis, loved animals and all creation, and was able to dance with joy. The pope loves the tango!

3. He is loving and compassionate to the marginalized.

  • His visits outside the Vatican have been to people in distress: prisoners, unemployed youth, refugees, immigrants, the sick and homeless, as well as poor parishes.
  • He is comfortable among the helpless: children and the disfigured.
  • His patience with a child who refused to leave his side at a public meeting enthralled the world.

4. He is a great leader in the service of others and walks the walk.

  • He practices humility in all ways, including living like the disadvantaged: simple car, apartment and appointments. This is unlike other world leaders.
  • He calls on bishops and priests to live like the poor, to be less clerical.
  • He has changed the Vatican financials and management to create total transparency.
  • He is not afraid to meet the media and answer questions.

5. He speaks the truth, as evidenced by his recent Apostolic Exhortation, which garnered significant media attention and criticism.

  • He discussed diverse topics such as reforms in the Church, women, political and religious leaders, young leaders, optimism, confidence and helping others.
  • He critiqued the “new tyranny” of unfettered capitalism and called for the faithful to say “no to the new idolatry of money.”
  • He commented on inequality: “How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?”
  • He called for rich people to share their wealth: "Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say 'thou shalt not' to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.”

Written by Father Eustace Sequeira, S.J.