The Pope Paves a New Trail

Film stars, sports legends and musical geniuses are not the only prominent figures in our society today that hold an enormous amount of influence over the rest of us mere mortals.

Pope Francis, the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church, has proven that his plans for the church are far greater and more unpredictable than any old sappy ending to a romantic comedy. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, commonly known as Pope Francis, hails from the bustling city of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Just recently succeeding Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis has been making strides in social reform that have made a splash in the Catholic community.

His stance concerning women is, fortunately, significantly more progressive than his predecessors, insisting that women be given a more proactive role in the Roman Catholic Church.

In a recent interview with America Magazine, Pope Francis was asked about the purpose of women in the church and he responded by stating, “It is necessary to broaden the opportunities for a stronger presence of women in the church.”

Pope Francis has also hinted at allowing women to embrace more administrative and pastoral responsibilities, for without women, the church would most certainly be lacking the maternal and tender finesse that makes the Catholic Church warm and welcoming.

His willingness to blaze a trail for the women in the church is admirable and something which the Catholic Church needs more of.

When it comes to the controversial subject of abortion, however, Pope Francis adopts a more classical approach.

He continues to passionately preach a pro-life attitude by imploring doctors to save lives, rather than take them.

Pope Francis has been recorded saying that “Every child that isn’t born, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ, has the face of the Lord.”

This is when I begin to question the Pope, because he begins to have some discrepancies and contradictions in his beliefs. You would think after displaying such a strong support for women the Pope would lean more toward the left and respect women’s decisions to choose for themselves whether or not to request for an abortion.

But alas, he continues to cling to traditional Catholic doctrines. Despite his contrasting views on women and abortion, Pope Francis’ opinion on contraception remains obscure, some believing that he will allow the use of contraception in order to prevent diseases, while others vehemently argue that he is orthodox and upholds the traditional Catholic intolerance of such things.

Another issue that has contributed to the buzz of the Pope’s new image is gay marriage.

As long as the individual is seeking the Lord, Pope Francis feels that he has no right to judge.

This singular statement has created an uproar among Catholics and non-Catholics alike. While many shake their heads in disapproval at the Pope’s bold statement, thousands have rallied behind him in support.

Although the Pope has released statements and made it clear in interviews his personal beliefs, he has condemned the church’s motives as a whole, chastising them for spending too much time and energy on these controversial topics of abortion and gay marriage, insisting that there are more pressing concerns that deserve the attention of the church and need to be addressed.

Pope Francis has received some heat for putting his own church on the spot, but it’s refreshing to see that he does not hold his own religious institution above reproach.

Poverty and unemployment, however, hold a special place in the Pope’s heart.

His desire to provide aid and assistance to those in dire circumstances is commendable and is evident in his most recent visit to Italy’s poorest region, the island of Sardinia.

Donning a hardhat on his visit to the mines, Pope Francis spoke to thousands of workers concerning the ongoing financial crisis. Being the son of working-class Italian immigrants, the Pope was able to relate to the struggles of the people of Sardinia, tugging at the heartstrings of many and earning him more respect as the champion of the common man.

Whether it’s social reform policies or simply his character, Pope Francis continues to impress us all with his forward thinking and compassionate heart.

 

 

Kyle Weik is a first-year Psychology and Social Behavior major. He can be reached at kweik@uci.edu