It’s really hard to imagine it, but we have a Pope that either has the world’s best PR team, or simply is doing a lot of things right when FOX News, of all people, throw fits of rage in his direction.
We’ve talked about 8 bits of trivia about Pope Francis before. Today, let’s talk about 8 things that have even some atheists cautiously optimistic about Pope Francis, and none of these things involve him saying that “even atheists can go to heaven.”
8. He reframes the dialogue.
At no point does he say that he thinks there’s nothing wrong with homosexuality. Hate to burst the bubble of the progressives who turn to these words for approval, but that’s really the crux of Pope Francis’s paradigm shift: he reframes the discussion, and in doing so, avoids the controversies his predecessors chose to address more directly.
This is also why his more scathing and conservative statements are generally reserved for masses to the clergy, instead of things he says to the public. He’s literally preaching to the choir when he makes his decidedly traditional proclamations.
7. He leads by example.
When he talks about maintaining poverty and humility, when he rails against the dangers of wanton capitalism, this is a Pope who isn’t just saying these things: he lives it daily, with the frugalities that he maintains despite being both a head of state and a religious leader to 1 billion people.
This is a Pope who came from the continent that was the birthplace of Liberation Theology. His ideas are a lot more radical and progressive than most of his contemporaries. The fact that he’s a Jesuit doesn’t hurt that, either. Quite simply, when he asks you to do something, you know it’s because he also does it.
6. He has a great sense of humor.
Just ask the Baby Pope, right? The last Pope to have a vaunted sense of humor was Pope John Paul II, which means we skipped one.
5. He is aware when he makes a faux pas
Remember the Kim Davis fiasco? Well, someone’s probably going to get fired over that one, and it’s the guy who set it up. What was perhaps the only black mark on his trip to America, it’s pretty clear that the Pope knows when he makes a mistake and takes the steps to rectify it.
4. Clergy who defy his progressive streak actually face consequences.
The homophobic cardinal? Demoted to impotence. Just like the guy who set up the meeting with the not-so-law-abiding Davis is probably going to get fired, you know the Pope means business when he actually tells people to tone the rhetoric down.
Let’s again be sober here: he is not going to preside over a gay wedding anytime soon, nor will he relax his stance on abortion, divorce, or even women as priests. But when was the last time we saw a glimmer of hope for anything from the Catholic hierarchy? This is that glimmer, and no, it’s not a small deal.
3. He likes his science
2. Conservatives fear he’s too progressive.
Progressives will almost always assume the Pope is too conservative for their tastes, but if there’s one thing his recent US trip has unexpectedly proven, it’s that he really scares conservatives with what he has to say.
I believe the problem is because we project our values on the Pope and want him to correspond with them one to one. This is a mistake, because the Pope, no matter how progressive, is irrevocably still a Catholic. He will always harp on morality. He will always uphold a centuries-old system that is inherently patriarchal. If you want change, you can’t count on the Pope to stop being a Catholic just for you.
Until we understand that nuance and appreciate why he keeps doing #8 instead, which is the epitome of “agreeing to disagree,” we will never find an ounce of positivity with this Pope. Or any Pope, for that matter.
1. He’s OG.
Yes, he really is.