Seven Things This Protestant Likes About the Pope

6020860169As a Protestant, I don’t normally pay too much attention to what the Pope is up to. If I see a news story about him, I might click over and see what’s going on, but for the most part we travel in different circles. You know.

But I have to confess, Pope Francis is one guy who has my attention. Here are seven things I like about him:

1) He has decided not to move into the papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace, but to live in a suite in the Vatican guesthouse.

How refreshing to see a Christian leader who doesn’t use his position to build a personal empire of wealth (or a $1.7 million mansion). A leader who doesn’t have a designated parking space outside the church. How often do Christian leaders more closely resemble Charlie Brown’s little sister? You know, the one who says, “All I want is what I have coming to me. All I want is my fair share.”

Instead of taking all that he has coming to him, he lives in simpler quarters (I’m sure they’re still beautiful) among the people he works with. That’s refreshing. I like it.

2) Did you see the photo of the pope kissing the head of the disfigured man? What a powerful image, a challenging reminder that Christians are called to serve the weak and the poor, the broken and the neglected.

3) He seems very relaxed about his own importance.

When a little boy joined the Pope on stage while he was addressing thousands and thousands of people, and the Pope simply smiled, and patted the boy on the head, and let him sit in his big white chair while he continued speaking, well, it made me smile.

4) Simplicity.

What does the pope carry on to the plane with him when he travels? A razor, a prayer book, a diary and a book about St. Theresa. He carries his own bags because, “It’s normal, we have to be normal. We have to be accustomed to being normal.”

5) Sarah Palin is worried about him. Even those of you who aren’t fans of the Pope must admit that this means he must not be all bad.

6) He wants “pastoral” bishops, not ones motivated by ideology. I like the idea of encouraging leaders to become more in tune with the problems and tensions faced by their congregants. Too many pastors have become preachers, standing up once a week and delivering a message, yet having no real feel for what is going on in their church or in the lives of those they have been called to serve.

7) Finally, I find the general sense of humility that surrounds this new Pope endearing. In the words of Neal Wooten,

I think it is that character trait that endears me to Pope Francis the most: humility. That’s why we never see him in the million-dollar pope-mobile, but his car of choice is a donated 1984 Renault with 190,000 miles on it, or at times a Ford Focus, and at least once a little Fiat. He’s even expressed his concerns with priests owning new cars.

“It hurts me when I see a priest or a nun with the latest model car, you can’t do this. A car is necessary to do a lot of work, but please, choose a more humble one. If you like the fancy one, just think about how many children are dying of hunger in the world.” – Pope Francis

Do you have any thoughts about Pope Francis?

5 Replies to “Seven Things This Protestant Likes About the Pope”

  1. What a great list! My husband and I aren’t Catholic either, however we’ve noted most of the points you’ve listed. (Didn’t know about the car or the living quarters…)

    While we read your list together, we discussed how it seems this Pope is merely living the way he always has – in other words, it’s not about him – it’s about the needs of the people.

  2. My entire extended family is Catholic so I grew up hearing about the pope and the church. There are or were a few people in my family that didn’t view my immediate family as “real” Christians because we’re Protestants. Some hurtful things were said and done over the years. The work of Pope Francis has ushered some very real healing in that regard. It makes me wonder what sort of world it would be if we all followed his example and followed the example of Christ.

  3. I grew up Catholic but have bounced around among other Protestant denominations since coming back to faith in college.

    I’ve been impressed with Pope Francis for basically the same list as you gave. I happened to be home and flipped on the TV the day we were first introduced to Pope Francis. I was immediately struck with his humility because he did things that were very un-“Popish” compared to what I’d seen all my life. The first thing he did – he took a moment of silence for everyone to pray for him, that he would be able to do his job well. And then, he had everyone pray three common prayers with him (the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Magnificat(? didn’t know that one as well). I had never seen a pope do anything to put himself on the same level as his constituents as Francis did that day. And since then, he’s proved that was no fluke – he really does build community with those around him.

    This is the first pope that I’ve really felt has been a good example of what Jesus would be like if he were in his position.

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