The word ‘historic’ is tossed around a lot. People use it to describe a new iPhone unveiling or an updated Facebook layout. This, however, is a truly historic moment that any human being ought to appreciate. Cardinal Bergoglio from Argentina, now Pope Francis, will be the first pope from the Americas. You will find that many people on Facebook and the media have magically become instant experts on this man. They weren’t aware of his existence 40 minutes ago and now they know everything about him. And, likely, they’ve come to the determination that he is a bad, evil comic book villain bent on world domination. Because he is the leader of the Catholic Church they have, of course, started with the premise that he’s Dr. Evil and will now skim his Wikipedia page to find whatever justification they can for that prejudice.
Well, I don’t claim to be a biographer of the guy. I know a little about him, and I’ll continue to learn from legitimate sources as the days go by. What I know is this: He’s the first non-European pope in over 1300 years. He’s a humble and kind man. His humility is authentic. Much like Benedict, he was not at all eager to be given this position. He does not worship himself or think himself entitled to his new status. I know that I watched him bow his head in front of the crowd and ask for their blessing. I know he, as an archbishop, chose to take a bus to work. He chose to live in a small apartment without maids, cooks, or servants. When he went to Rome to be ordained a Cardinal, he asked his flock in his country not to come and to instead give their travel money to the poor. He is orthodox and “conservative” on “social issues”. In other words, he’s not going to abandon the moral teachings of Christianity just because a bunch of people on Twitter think he should. He’s known for being very compassionate towards the poor. He’s known to be someone who lives the words of Corinthians 13. I’m aware of one anecdote I read a few years ago about a visit he made to a hospital. While there, he got on his knees, kissed and washed the feet of 12 AIDS patients. He takes strong, unwavering positions and reinforces them with love and humility. He leads by example.
And these are all very good things.
That’s what I know.