by Joey Villarama
The world has met its new Pope- Pope Francis. Wearing only a plain white cassock and his stole upon greeting the crowd on his election, and bowing down, asking also for prayers from the gathered crowd and from the world, Pope Francis appeared to be entirely different from the other Popes the world has come to know.
These simple gestures, these theatrics as some critics alleged, won for this Pope the attention of those who witnessed the historic moment in Rome and on television. Because of these gestures, the world instantly liked him; there is no doubt about that. The litmus test has been passed. Observers have called this phenomenon the “Francis Effect.”
But was that enough? Is getting roaring applause on the night of election adequate grounds that the sheep will heed the voice of their new shepherd? Is getting more airtime and space in non-Catholic media a good measure of public relations success? Do people really like him?
More than a year after his election, Pope Francis continues to make waves in both Church and secular circles. If anything, he has been consistent. As a colleague said, Francis holds true to the Jesuit trait of teaching by repetition. We keep on hearing phrases like “throw-away culture,” “culture of waste,” “gossip is like murder,” “love your enemies,” “pray for peace,” emulate the martyrs,” “live simply,” and “serve the poor,” from Pope Francis’ homilies, interviews, and other public discourses. These are nothing new. But these seem to register well with people who hear them.
And why is that? Because what Pope Francis preaches, he puts into action. These are shown in the many reports about his teachings, his simple and random acts of kindness that reflect the Mercy and Compassion of God. What he preaches is what he is. These are not theatrics.
This is the reason why the world loves Pope Francis.
And that is why the Philippines is looking forward to the Pope’s visit in January 2015.