While everybody is busy for the Yuletide season, another big event keeps the Philippines’ hands full, especially the Catholics – the Papal Visit in January. Remember the last time we were visited by the Highest Leader of the Catholic Church was in 1994 during the World Youth Day. Thousands of people struggled through the mob just to get a glimpse of Pope John Paul II (now St. John Paul). But then why not? If it were me, to be able to come face to face with the sucessor of the one who instituted my faith is quite a once in a lifetime chance.
I have a lot to say about this visit, but I’d rather not put here the complete details until it’s confirmed (I promise to make a separate post for that). Thing is, in the period of less than two years of being a pope (he was declared Pope in March 2013), Pope Francis has already shown his radical side that made most of the Catholic church members frown, especially those who strictly cling to the Catholic doctrine. I must say that this captured my interest, not only because it comes from the church of my faith, but also it involves some of the current social issues.
“Who am I to judge?”
I happen to remember reading a broadsheet when I was in the hospital (this is something to remember because I don’t read newspapers), about an article where Pope Francis discussed his veiws about homosexuality. I think this is where his now famous line “Christ first before dogma” originates. I don’t think he was trying to change the Catholic doctrine and make it agree with homosexuality. He just reiterates God’s love and mercy for all of us His children. As the Pope have said, “Gay people should be integrated into society instead of ostracized. If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
Redemption is for everyone.
Apparently, the Pope strongly believes that redemption is for all, even for those who are non-believers. He said in one of his homilies (I’ve googled most if his homilies, by the way!) that, “if we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: We need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: We will meet one another there.”
It is only a matter of experiencing it (God’s love and mercy) before finally accepting it. Then comes conversion.
He regards the importance of women in the church.
Though the church has a bleak response when it comes to the role of women in the church, Pope Francis stated that it isn’t enough that we have altar girls. Women is important. Mary is more important than the apostles.
He has a big heart for the poor.
Well, I think most of us have a big heart for the poor, let alone the Pope. But he is just so outspoken with regard to this issue. I surmised that it’s most probably because he’s coming from a place where poverty is very dominant and obviously felt. And it’s just so heartwarming to know that as he visits the Philippines in January, he would come and visit Tacloban City, which was cruelly affected by typhoon Yolanda. May his visit over there and the warm welcome of the people bring back the hope in that city.
Pope Francis may be dubbed as the most radical church leader, but I think he is one of the best leader the Catholic church has ever had. It is very good to see this side of the church, the church that forgives and heals and nurtures its people, without maveling at the depths of Christian theology and the Canon Law. Thus, as we await for the Pope’s visit, we pray for his protection and safety, as we would gleefully call him Lolo Kiko.