I love Pope Francis. I am a non-believer and the things he says and the actions he has taken since becoming Pontiff make me want to believe. I don’t. And I probably won’t. But that’s powerful, isn’t it? He makes me want to believe.
And the things he talks about — about how its not his role or anybody else’s on Earth to judge anyone else; about how the Church needs to be poor and care for the poor; about humility (and nobody is more humble than Pope Francis); about taking a few minutes to not just notice the world’s problems but to mourn for them, to truly grieve for others and cry for their troubles — are things that he has been saying for years. Believe me, I’ve read about 8 books about the man — a lot of the quotes we are surprised to hear from the Pope’s mouth are things that Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been saying for two decades in Argentina.
I don’t know what a saint is, but when I see Pope Francis dive into a crowd and drive his security crazy, when I really read the words he is saying, and, most importantly, when I truly believe that he’s changing a stagnant, corrupt, dying Church from the top of the Apostolic Palace down through a bloated, bureaucratic Roman Curia, and all the way into each diocese in every city, village, and slum around the world, I feel like I’m watching a saint at work far more than when I saw Pope John Paul II in action.
I don’t believe in God, but I believe in Pope Francis. That man — and despite the pontifical vestments and the pallium and the regnal name, he is just a man named Jorge from Buenos Aires — is special.