Popularity of a Pope

Humility, optimism, compassion, and progressiveness: These are all examples of the traits arguably desired in a modern religious leader. Argentine pontiff Pope Francis has more than proved that he has these desired traits. Time and time again, the new pontiff has been greeted by the people with thunderous applause and cheers of joy, and their admiration of him is justified by the way Francis  has been running the Catholic Church and contributing to modern global issues. His progressive stance on issues of social justice such as divorce, climate change, and the treatment of the LGBT community, combined with his optimism, humility, and compassion, have earned him the adoration of the people and the respect of his fellow bishops. He is so different from other bishops and monarchs because, unlike stereotypical religious leaders , Pope Francis is actually, genuinely concerned for the needs of the unfortunate and downtrodden.

Pope Francis’ growing popularity has attracted the attention of admirers from every race, religion, and nation. His diverse collection of people who adore him was exhibited during his recent visit to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. One of the many people who Francis is popular with is a Liberian immigrant named Juwli Roberts-Karluah, who said that the new pontiff is “trying to bring us back together.” This means that even in a world torn apart by violence and pain, the Pope is confident that humans can come back together as one. Francis is also seen as sort of a messianic healer, especially by Leslie Herring. This woman dreams that her disabled daughter, Debianne, will learn to conquer her innate cerebral palsy and epilepsy when the Pope kisses her. The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia even traveled to Philadelphia to see Pope Francis. Sister Anna Grace Neenan demonstrated her profound knowledge of why he is so loveable, describing how people “see his goodness and are attracted to it, Catholic and non-Catholic, rich and poor.” This ultimately means that when people listen to his speeches or read about what he does for the world, they look up to him as a sort of Christ-like figure. Those of his admirers who aren’t Catholic admire him for his open-mindedness and fair treatment of people of other faiths and races.

Francis’ relatability, friendly demeanor, and willingness to live like a working-class man, despite his position, has earned him the epithet of “The People’s Pope.” This is demonstrated by many of his lifestyle choices, even though it is traditional for Pope to live in the Vatican Palace. This may be because he wants to show everyone that he views himself as not above or below the common man, but equal to him. As a cardinal, Pope Francis had a habit of using public transportation to get around the Vatican City instead of being driven in an expensive car. He also lives in a small apartment instead of living in the lap of luxury in the palace. Plus, he appears to have taken up a sort of “servant leadership,” meaning that he believes the pontiff is meant to serve rather than be served. According to an article by pastor and writer Chris Nye, the reason for his status as a “servant leader” is to connect himself to the younger, “more cynical” generation-so he can break rules and traditions that “shouldn’t even exist.” Through this generous outlook on life, he is much more willing to provide financial, physical, and spiritual help to those most in need of it. He demonstrated this characteristic by washing the feet of young women in a prison, one of whom was a Serbian Muslim. Apparently, it is a break in papal tradition for a pope to be tending to the needs of women, let alone Muslim women.

Arguably the most admirable trait about Pope Francis is his attitude towards current events, not to mention his dauntless pursuit of goals that most churches are avoiding . And to top it off, he has reinstated the Vatican as a major player in international diplomacy. The Argentine pontiff’s views on life are described as, “accessible and concise.” Even though his quotes about life are simple and straight-forward they are also very profound. For example, he describes the Catholic Church as a “love story,” rather than an “institution.” He wants to attract more people to the Church but feels as though it should be more akin to an option for a new school. It is meant to welcome those who choose to attend with open arms rather than simply forcing outsiders to join (Nye). He has also taken a simple, but otherwise heartfelt, stance on war and violence, describing them as pure and simply, “madness; the suicide of humanity.” He uses social media and communication to spread his messages of peace and truth throughout the world, ideally ending the cultural wars on social justice issues including, but not limited to contraception, divorce, and the treatment of the LGBT community. He was also credited by both Cuba and the United States for helping to re-establish diplomatic relations between the two nations in the midst of tensions between them. Plus, he started an international campaign to prevent airstrikes in Syria, thus preventing more innocent casualties. Although these actions are all different, they were all inspired by Francis’ general desire to help people and make the world a much brighter place.

When asked, members of the Catholic Church might say that Pope Francis is doing nothing short of breaking Catholic traditions and giving them a bad name. Upon closer inspection, he is actually trying to help those less fortunate than himself. His willingness to work for peace and justice in the midst of overwhelming conflict, economic problems, the cynicism of the younger generation, and opposition against his progressive ways, makes Pope Francis a very compassionate man, as well as a courageous and outgoing one. The Argentine pontiff, dubbed “The People’s Pope,” by some, can be seen as an admirable role model and arguably the quintessence of a wise, just monarch and an agent for change. By spreading his message of love and peace via social media, combined with getting involved in politics, he has proven that even one voice can start a quest for peace and help to completely heal the world. This goal may seem outlandish, but due to his admirable qualities, belief in the human capacity for good, and willingness to share his sermons with the entire world, he is confident that others will soon follow in his footsteps and join him in his quest for world peace.


Dale, Maryclaire. “Pilgrims throng Philadelphia to see Pope Francis.” Public Opinion, Nation and World, Chambersburg Public Opinion. 26 September, 2015. Web. 6 October, 2015.


Nye, Chris “Why is the Pope so Popular?” The Relevant, The Relevant. 13 June, 2013. Web. 6 October, 2015. http://www.relevantmagazine.com/current/why-pope-so-popular

O’Loughlin, Michael. “Pope Francis is Wildly Popular. So What?” Crux, Boston Globe Media Partners, LLC. 8 April, 2015. Web. 6 October 2015. http://www.cruxnow.com/church/2015/04/08/pope-francis-is-wildly-popular-so-what/