Pope Francis strived to be the pope of the people since he became the highest official of the Catholic Church four years ago this March 13, succeeding Pope Benedict. His election started a new period in Rome. There’s no denying that Pope Francis is a very approachable, amiable and accessible pope. He’s constantly in the spotlight and he’s got several key moments and some very wise words that touched on many aspects of today’s society.
The Pope’s personal views
Pope Francis, who’s already 80 years old, still looks very spritely as he travels and meets a wide range of people. In most of his extemporaneous sermons, he often encourages Catholics to do what their religion teaches them. You do not need a translator to be able to get the meanings of what he wishes to convey, as his energy is immediately understandable. Here are some of his achievements and controversies so far:
1. He has given atheists assurance that they can still go to heaven even if they do not believe in God as others do, as long as they do not sin and obey what their conscience tells them. He told them they only need to approach God with a contrite and sincere heart, as God’s mercy is immense.
2. Hypocritical Catholics. The Pope also criticized some Catholics, whom he said lead double lives. He claimed that rather than being a hypocritical Catholic, it is better to be an atheist. There are members of the Catholic Church whom the Pope says declare that they are practicing Catholics, that they go to Mass regularly and yet they launder money, they exploit people and do not pay their employees proper wages.
3. Big Bang Theory. He said that evolution and the Big Bang theory, as science states, are real. He also said that God is not a magician who wields a magic wand. He believes that the Big Bang which science says is where the world originated, is for real, although he does not discount that it required a Divine Hand’s intervention.
4. Populism in the West. The Pope also warned that the rising number of followers of populism in the west is worrying. He said that it is evil and that it is dangerous. He went on to say that people must not repeat the errors that happened in the 1930s, particularly in Germany when so-called saviors promised to resolve political and economic crises. However, often these promises only led to war. Political and economic crises bring alarm and fear to people, prompting them to look for a proper identity. Many times, a charismatic leader emerges, promising that he can restore their lost identity, which only led to chaos. The Pope added that during times of crisis, people often display a lack of judgment, which is why, he said, he often gives the same advice: to talk to one another or to talk among themselves.
5. On the subject of refugees, Pope Francis said that it’s the duty of people around to world to resolve it. Instead of erecting walls, the world should build bridges. He added that promoting real progress cannot be achieve if there are divisions that block communication and understanding. These divisions usually end in confrontations in the future.
6. Fake News. The members of the media did not escape the Pope’s notice as well, saying that delivering fake news is like getting aroused by excrement, talking about fake stories and news that come out not only in popular mass media but also on social networks. He said media can do the greatest damage by spreading fake news. For him, media should be a tool for public education.
While the popularity of Pope Francis in many parts of the globe remains high, some people and even members of the Catholic Church are criticizing him for his low-key handling of pedophile cases within the Church. He initially called for severe punishments for priests who committed pedophilia. However, this year, it was learned that his recommendation for pedophile priests was to sentence them to a lifetime of prayer instead of having said priests sent to jail. A senior Catholic official from Australia counseled the Pope that he might be backsliding in his quest to go after these erring priests.