Column: New pope sets inspiring example

Mar. 16, 2013 @ 06:42 AM

It was interesting, emotional and hopeful as millions around the world watched the introduction of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as Pope Francis earlier this week.

It was a day of firsts. The first Jesuit named as pope. The first pope selected from the Americas. He is the first pope to select the name Francis. And the 1.2 billion Catholics across the world have been celebrating ever since.

Selecting the name of Saint Francis of Assisi certainly sends a message of change for the Vatican and a church that has been rocked by scandals, from sex abuse and banking to strife within the Vatican hierarchy. The beloved Saint Francis is known for his concerns for the poor and less fortunate, for his humility and tireless work in helping the church.

The two men have much in common, as Pope Francis also worked tirelessly for the poor and sick in Buenos Aires, abandoned the archbishop's palace and chauffeured limousine for a simple apartment and mass transit, and cooked his own meals. His life sends the same message of simplicity and concern for others. Even his choice of simple white garments and cross when he was introduced to the world speak to his mission and humility.

His job will be difficult, but he seems up to the task, especially when noting that he was not afraid to take on the Argentinean president for her position in favor of free contraceptives in a country that is largely Catholic. He was also known to chastise priests that refused to baptize children of single mothers.

Locally I have had the opportunity to speak to several of my Catholic friends and to my family, and they are extremely excited about the selection of Pope Francis, some moved to tears. They are hopeful.

In one of his first speeches he told the cardinals, “Be faithful, be close to the people, smile, and take things as they come.” Words we could all learn to live by.