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Pope Francis off to excellent start

I like Pope Francis.

I may even consider myself a fan, and I’m not even Catholic, I’m a Protestant of Baptist descent. 

Francis is garnering a great reputation as the new pope so far. Not only is he a champion of the poor and the marginalized, but also, shortly after becoming the new pope, he washed the feet of prisoners, two of which were Muslims and another two who were women. Before he left, Francis reportedly told the young offenders at the prison, “Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope.”

Francis has also set a new precedent by volunteering to live in the in the Vatican guesthouse, Saint Martha’s House, rather than the papal Apostolic Palace. Not only that but, on the official Easter Mass in St. Peter’s Square, Francis helped to lift up a boy with cerebral palsey named Dominic and bless him.

Naysayers will be quick to claim it is all a publicity stunt, and there is always that possibility. However, it seems like Pope Francis is doing far more than is necessary if his actions were just an effort to boost public opinion of him. Such a PR campaign wouldn’t have necessitated that he voluntarily live in the Vatican guesthouse or even break tradition and wash the feet of female prisoners (one of whom was a Muslim). 

Perhaps I am just a glass-half-full guy, but what if Pope Francis really does care about the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized? I know the Catholic church has had its controversies and scandals over the centuries, but many people ignore the great good that it has done as well. 

Modern hospitals, universities and the foundations of many modern charitable organizations all find their roots in the work of the Catholic church. The Jesuits (Pope Francis’ order) have always been particularly adamant about providing education to people.

For every one priest or bishop who has abused power, I’d be willing to bet that there are 10 more out there who really do want to love others and care for the kinds of people Jesus cared for. And frankly, I think Pope Francis is one of those 10. 

His track record has been sterling long before he came to the papacy, and it is my hope it will continue to shine as he presides over the Catholic Church. 

I may be Protestant, but I have a lot of respect and admiration for the Catholic church, especially its leaders who have really done their best to follow Jesus. It seems that Francis is one of these.

It is still early in his papacy, but I have high hopes for Francis. He has already set several milestones: The first South American and Argentinian pope, the first Jesuit pope, the first pope to wash the feet of female prisoners. Francis is already making a name for himself, and it is definitely a positive one.

I for one am a fan of Pope Francis so far. I am no expert on what exactly a pope should do, but by all indications Pope Francis is doing it right. I hope he continues to do so and that his papacy will end up being remembered as one of the best in church history.

 

Taylor Brown is a sociology, anthropology and religious studies senior

opinion@ocolly.com