By Emily Lapinski
November 13, 2013
By challenging some Catholic Church norms and making himself more accessible to the youth, Pope Francis has made quite the impact in the first few months of his papacy.
“I would recall the ‘first principle and foundation’ found in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola from which, as a Jesuit, Pope Francis draws so much inspiration,” said Theology Chair William George. “My sense is that Pope Francis is in the process of sifting through what is helpful in leading the church toward that goal and discarding what is no longer needed or helpful, at least in our time.”
This shift is seen through some of his actions including over the summer where Pope Francis traveled to Brazil to celebrate World Youth Day.
Sophomore Kristina Antol was fortunate enough to travel to Brazil to participate in the festivities as well.
“On the first day that the Pope attended the festival, we arrived early to anticipate his arrival. We, and thousands of others, lined the gates that fenced the pathway that Pope Francis would travel. It was absolutely amazing to see the thousands of people who were waiting for his arrival,” Antol explained. “There were so many people surrounding me that I had to climb on top of a friend’s shoulder in order to see. People all around me were crying. It will definitely be something I will never forget.”
Upon his return from the festival, Pope Francis took part in an interview in which the words he spoke would end up all over the media. Pope Francis was asked about his view on homosexuals in the church. He responded, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
In August, a group of teenagers traveled for an audience near Milan and the Pope took a picture with the group and allowed it to be posted online. The teenagers commented on how down to earth he was and how he didn’t make them feel inferior.
Later that month, Pope Francis made some private phone calls in response to letters he received. He called a rape victim in Argentina as well as a young Italian teenager. The young man was not home the first time but the Pope tried calling him back until he picked up.
Like St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis has encouraged simplicity of life, hospitality, help for the poor and love of all of God’s creation.
Pope Francis spoke on a recent scandal regarding the amount of money priests and sisters spend on personal items appealing to his saintly views and enforced the idea of simplicity. Francis himself drives a modest car and recently sold his Harley to raise money for hostels and soup kitchens in Rome.
During the Meeting of the Families, a video of a little boy that came up on the stage with Pope Francis circulated the Internet. Security tried to get the boy off the stage but Francis signaled to leave the boy and even patted him on the head. The Pope continued his speech as the little boy proceeded to sit on the Pope’s chair.
Ann Hillman, a university minister, believes that Dominican’s ministry department is trying its best to reciprocate the values and morals demonstrated by Pope Francis.
“We try to greet people with a sense of hospitality, welcome and happiness. We want everyone to know that no matter where they are in their faith, or in their life, they are welcome here,” Hillman said. “Their own sense of faith and spirituality is something that enhances our whole community. I look at Dominican as a place that is really open and transparent, so when I see that in Pope Francis as well as in our administration and ministry, I am really proud.”