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December 19, 2013

Pope reminds us of our better natures

The Daily Star

---- — This guy named Jorge Mario Bergoglio had checked in to a church-run boardinghouse in Rome last March, and when he dropped by to pay his bill, he had a different name.

Pope Francis.

The new pontiff could have just blown off the tab — after all, the place was owned by what was now his church — but according to the Vatican, “he was concerned about giving a good example of what priests and bishops should do.”

We like this pope, and we’re far from alone.

Last week, Time Magazine named him its 2013 “Person of the Year.” An ABC News/Washington Post poll showed an astounding 92 percent of American Catholics and 86 percent of people in the United States have a favorable impression of Pope Francis. These figures are all the more impressive given the approval rating for the Catholic Church was 40 percent in 2002 amid child sex-abuse scandals.

Toward that end, Francis is appointing a commission to consider how the church can do a better job of protecting children.

What we find most appealing about this pope is his emphasis on the poor.

Last month, in Evangelii Gaudium, an “apostolic exhortation” to the church, Francis said: “The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose,”

He called unregulated capitalism “a new tyranny,” and last week, he decried the “widening gap between those who have more and those who must be content with the crumbs.”

This emphasis on the poor was too much for blowhard radio commentator Rush Limbaugh.

“This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope,” Limbaugh said. On economics, the pope is “totally wrong, I mean dramatically, embarrassingly, puzzlingly wrong.”

Let Limbaugh and his ilk continue to worship the golden calf. Francis is reminding not only Catholics, but all of us, about our responsibilities to those less-fortunate.

“This is a pope that the United Nations could have elected,” the Rev. John Rosson of Cooperstown told The Daily Star. “It is like when the astronauts look down at earth from the moon — they see no boundaries between communities. This pope is less concerned with history and more concerned with the present. In the midst of all that is bad in the world, this is a moment of joy.”

Pope Francis is also moving — albeit with baby steps — to further tolerance of gays who want to be part of the church.

“Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord,” he said in Italian to reporters. “You can’t marginalize these people.”

As we said, we like this pope. Time Magazine made an excellent choice.