Pope Francis Embraces the Gospel of Poverty


“I believe [Pope Francis] will not let us down,
and will be a beacon of Franciscan poverty and simplicity
in a Vatican that still operates like a medieval court.”
Margaret Hebblethwaite


Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio began his papacy by taking the name of a saint who called “Lady Poverty” his bride. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals and the environment. Renouncing any claim to his father’s wealth, he even chose the life of a beggar for two months.

Pope Francis’ first public act was to ask the people to pray for him. As cardinal, he is known for celebrating Holy Thursday by washing and kissing the feet of those in jail, a hospital, or with the elderly or poor. As Pope, he continues this tradition: Instead of a formal public ceremony, as is customary, Francis will wash and kiss the feet of twelve people at a jail for minors.

These acts of humility give credence to the Pope taking the name Francis. Moreover, the Pope is residing in a guest house, “passing up the solitude and splendor of the papal apartments,” says a Vatican spokesperson, “to live simply among priests and bishops and visitors” (CBS News, March 26).

Many Protestants, including myself, differ markedly with the Roman Catholic Church on a host of issues which profoundly affect the lives of billions. But the ascension of Bergoglio is welcome news.

Jesus preached a gospel of good news to the poor, and expressed his care for prisoners, the sick and all who were oppressed. My take: Pope Francis is demonstrating by his actions the primacy of the Gospel of Poverty.

Update: The twelve inmates whose feet he washed and kissed included two women and two Muslims.

Rev. Rix welcomes comments at Quoflections@gmail.com. © 2013 Harry Rix. All rights reserved.

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