By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/13/2014 (1 year ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Pope Francis has marked his first year as pope not with a celebration, but with a spiritual retreat, joined by cardinals and bishops. Arriving by bus, Pope Francis briefly greeted reporters before entering a retreat house outside Rome.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis is in the hills outside Rome one a week-long spiritual retreat. The pontiff is spending the week that marks his first year in office not with celebration, but with bishops and cardinals in humility and prayer.
This kind of behavior, as well as his frequent displays of compassion have made Pope Francis the most popular pope in recent history. Opinion polls in Italy give him high ratings as well as opinion polls in the United States.
WISH POPE FRANCIS A HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!
Although American Catholics have not returned to Mass, according to a recent Pew Research survey, they are still enthralled by Pope Francis.
In Argentina, Pope Francis frenzy remains high and memorabilia is still selling strong, one year later.
Pope Francis is one of the most popular people on social media and can boast 11 million followers on Twitter, in 9 different languages.
Attendance at St. Peter's has doubled in the past year.
However, Pope Francis isn't interested in all of the hype, hence he is spending his time in retreat. He recently remarked that the cult of personality surrounding him "seems offensive."
Yet the multitudes of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics can't help themselves, nor can possibly a billion others belonging to different religions as well as some atheists. Pope Francis is clearly a man of mercy and compassion and his message, backed by his behavior, is appreciated.
Rather than preaching harshly, criticizing and chastising, the Holy Father is calling for understanding and compassion, as well as prayer and action to make the world a better place. Even for non-Catholics, this is a call to action that is worthy of respect.
Pope Francis has warned the hierarchy of the Church that he wants a "poor Church for the poor" and that he does not want to see professional administrators and "bishops of bling" but rather humble pastors. This from a man who even as a cardinal rode public transportation and cooked his own meals in a Buenos Aires apartment.
Despite the apparent shakeup within the Church, it should also be noted that Pope Francis has not changed Church doctrine or teaching in any way. Instead, he has refocused the Church on its pastoral mission, something that Catholics can lose sight of when they become mired in the politics of the day.
Pope Francis still opposes immoral behavior and injustice, yet he goes about addressing it in a unique way outside the Church. Within the Church however, he is very direct. Last year he suspended a German bishop for spending too lavishly on his personal residence, among other things, and he has sacked other ineffective and misdirected leaders. The Vatican bank in particular, an institution recently hit with scandal, has experienced a change in leadership and management to become more transparent and to ensure its dealings remain legitimate.
Pope Francis has also made a special plea for alms to the poor, launching a sustained campaign of 'Prayer and Action' in the hope of ending world hunger by 2025. Organizations like Caritas Internationalis and Catholic Online have been collecting food donated by rank-and-file Catholics to feed the world's poor.
Give Pope Francis the anniversary gift he wants, help end world hunger today.
Finally, Pope Francis has continued Pope Benedict XVI's campaign to improve the safety of children within the Church, ordering the release of documents and names of those accused of crimes as well as revoking Vatican protection for criminals and predators. He recently referred to the child abuse scandal as "shameful" and has tasked a special panel to seek ways to further protect children.
Although Pope Francis is secluded in retreat, the rest of us have reason o celebrate. The Holy Spirit has brought us a wonderful pontiff and we're right to rejoice in his blessed leadership.
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