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By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

12/26/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (

Just what makes Francis so popular?

Pope Francis may be the most engaging Pope in history, already the most discussed man on the internet in 2013, according to sources. Despite his tenure of nearly a year, Pope Francis continues to surprise onlookers with the little things he does.

Pope Francis carried the heavy statue of infant Jesus himself, no retinue required.

Pope Francis carried the heavy statue of infant Jesus himself, no retinue required.


By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (

12/26/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Pope Francis, popular, secret, fame, fortune, power, saint, integrity, lifestyle

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Global Language Monitor says that Pope Francis was the most talked about man on the internet in 2013. While pop religious figures are accustomed to fame and notoriety, and indeed often seek it as part of their lavish lifestyle, Pope Francis is a stark reversal.

Similar to many megachurch pastors and televangelists, Pope Francis is famous around the globe and has the fortune of the Catholic Church at his disposal, but unlike those same people, he seeks neither. He deliberately lives as impoverished a lifestyle as possible, lives in a Vatican guest house, eats with the staff, and mingles with the public far beyond what his security detail thinks prudent. He has expressed, on several occasions, his desire for the Church to be "a poor church, for the poor."

Pope Francis dons a clown

Pope Francis dons a clown's nose as he greets a pair of red-nosed newlyweds raising awareness for charity.

In short, Pope Francis is a rock star with more fame, fortune and power than any rock star in history. Nevertheless, every time he tries to distance himself from this reality, he finds himself further mired in it.

Last month, Pope Francis learned that one of his Swiss Papal Guards missed breakfast. The Holy Father personally went into a nearby kitchenette and made the hungry soldier a jam sandwich.

He has eschewed the fancy clothes, the lavish apartments, escorts, and entourages. During Christmas Eve Mass, he carried a heavy statue of the infant Jesus himself, and laying it in its manger, he kissed its knee. Normally the statue is carried by someone else in a retinue. This time, retinue was absent.

There seems to be no end to the public fascination with Pope Francis. While the Pope is the Vicar of Christ and is expected to serve as God's representative on Earth, complete with splendid regalia, Pope Francis actually walks and talks like a living saint. He models as closely as possible within the context of his own life, the mission of Christ. There is no pretension, no conspicuous consumption, just geuine humility.

Why does he capture our attention? The ordinary man, the person who has no hope of incredible wealth or power, sees Pope Francis who has all the access, money and power that a man can have, and he watches Francis turn away from it. Pope Francis chooses humble garments, lunch with homeless men and their dog, to ride in the back seat of a compact car, and to make sandwiches for the people who are meant to wait on him.

Has the modern world seen a better example of a holy man? Pope Francis has an integrity unmatched in our time. He sends the message that we can all be great, and that contrary to popular belief, riches and fame are impediments to that greatness.

Pope Francis kissed a man with a terrible disfigurement. Would we ever do the same?

Pope Francis kissed a man with a terrible disfigurement. Would we ever do the same?

The reality is that Pope Francis is not the only humble man on Earth. There are many others, even right in your own parish. There are people you know who would do as he does, who prefer simplicity, who shy away from notoriety, and who would make you a sandwich if they knew you missed breakfast. Pope Francis is what would happen if that man were elevated by God to a position of authority. What's surprising is that this isn't more common among leaders, when it should be.

We can all be Pope Francis. This is why he engages us so powerfully. We already have the humble car, the heavy burdens, and we're surrounded by opportunities to wash plenty of feet and kiss lepers, at least figuratively, and feed those without anything to eat. So what's holding us back?

Pope Francis is showing us how it is to be done, despite the relative impediment of fame and power he suffers. We are not so encumbered.

Americans and others around the world are flocking back to the Catholic Church in droves. We all want a leader we can believe in, someone who is genuine and who is essentially one of us, and not some kind of an aristocrat. Pope Francis is such a man.

We are now invited to follow him. What happens next is up to you.

What Pope Francis does for the least people in his world is what makes him so popular with the rest

What Pope Francis does for the least people in his world is what makes him so popular with the rest of us.

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Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'

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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.


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