The new Pope has proven he will walk a different path. Although the media reports that Pope Francis, who is from Argentina, is the first non-European Pope in history, he is actually the second. Pope Gelasius served in the fifth century and was from Carthage, now Tunisia, in Africa.
Regardless, in the past six months, Pope Francis has handled his pontiff role much differently than his predecessors did:
- He is less formal. On the night of his election, he took the bus back to his hotel.
- He lives a humble existence, choosing to reside in a small Vatican apartment for which he pays rent, rather than in the grandeur of the official papal residence.
- The evening before Good Friday, he visited a jail and kissed the feet of 12 prisoners, including two women and one Muslim.
- He has criticized his clergy, claiming some have become wolves rather than shepherds.
- He favors a wider and more active role for women in the church.
And last week, Pope Francis suggested that the Catholic Church has been too tough on issues of homosexuality, contraception and abortion.
The world has been changing at a rapid pace. Perhaps the time has arrived that the world’s largest Christian church, too, will follow suit.