I know this is old news as far as the internet is concerned, but it seems that Pope Francis got himself into a pickle the other day. As he was walking through the crowd outside of St. Peter’s Basilica on New Year’s Eve shaking hands and kissing babies, a woman reached out and grabbed him with two hands. She yanked him backward and wouldn’t let go. The Papa slapped her hand twice before walking away with a scowl on his face.
‘Twasn’t a good PR move by the Pontiff. Twitter was aflame. Would Jesus slap the hands of a clinging worshipper away?!
Ugh... C’mon now.
For one, the whole WWJD thing is so tiring. And what does that even mean? Do we really know exactly what Jesus did in his day-to-day life more than a few stories that have been passed down and diluted through multiple translations over the millennia?
And also, let’s look at what this Pope has done for the poverty-ridden throughout his life. It’s astounding. But the masses are so quick to shout him down for this one flawed move (which many of us would’ve also done had we been in his shoes).
I gotta say, I’m a fan of this Pope. Is he perfect? Absolutely not. No way. (Ordaining women and letting clergy marry would be a good start.) But I enjoy seeing how human he is. I think he’s trying to dispell the notion that the Pope is God. He got rid of the bulletproof Popemobile. He’s more vulnerable than any Pope that’s been alive in my lifetime.
Another thing he’s taking heat for is not letting people kiss his ring so freely in this public hand-shaking event he did...
They say he’s being a jerk by not offering his ring to be kissed (and thus allowing forgiveness of sins which is apparently what some Roman Catholics say happens when you kiss the Pope’s ring). I don’t know what Papa’s intentions are for doing this, but I think (hope) it’s to say, “People - stop making a false idol out of this ring. Go and serve the Lord.” At least, that seems to be his posture during a lot of his time as Pope.
The bottom line is this... The Pope is human. He can be a real asshole at times. But he can also be a divinely inspired powerhouse for those who most need it. He has a lot of ‘work’ to do. The Roman church is a big ship to turn. But for a guy his size, he’s turning it quite well, I’d say. Let’s pray for the Pope. May the work that God is doing through him bring the Roman Church closer to Earth. And may we all allow room for our fellow humans to be just that - human.
Yes, even the Pope.
Grace & Godspeed,
P.S. We just watched Two Popes on Netflix just before Christmas and really liked it. It was hard not seeing Anthony Hopkins NOT as Hannibal, but once you get past that, it’s fine. I don’t know how historically accurate it is, but I highly recommend it.