MSNBC’s Chris Hayes goes ga-ga over Papa (reminding me of another MSNBC anchor, Chris Matthews, who once expressed similar enthusiasm, and a tingling leg, for Barack Obama.)
You know who I freakin’ love? This new pope. Pope Francis. You know who I’m talking about, right? The pope. Are you watching this guy? Because you should be. It’s early, but I’m thinking… best pope ever.
Now, I have a confession to make: like millions of other people in this country and around the world, I was raised Catholic, but stopped going to Mass—my freshman year at Brown, to be exact. And while I still have affection for the church of my childhood—the smell of incense, the saying of the Our Father, and all of the rituals—I haven’t felt very warmly about the institutional Catholic Church, to say the least, in the years since. But somehow, this guy, Pope Francis, is turning me around.
I liked him from the beginning, because he, like my father, was a Jesuit—a liberal order that promotes social justice. I love me some Jesuits. Right out of the gate, Francis offered up a few gestures to demonstrate a break from his predecessor Benedict. Rather than living in the grand papal apartment, Francis resides in the modest Vatican guest house.
The Vatican’s garbage collectors were the first employees he invited to morning masses. And instead of washing the feet of 12 priests during an Easter Week ritual, as tradition dictates, Francis washed the feet of 12 young inmates including two women and two Muslims.
I thought to myself at the time, well, that’s cool, but he’s new at the job. He’ll probably start becoming more pope-like as time goes on.
But no. He just keeps being awesome.
Say what you will, but what may be most remarkable is the simple fact that Francis continues to generate so much buzz, day after day. The media can’t stop talking about the Church and the Vicar of Christ. Which means talking about simplicity and poverty, humility and love.
The Holy Spirit, as he proved at Pentecost, definitely knows how to make an entrance.