Pope Francis speaks with young people in a youth centre dedicated to Pope John Paul II during his visit to Sarajevo, on June 6, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Dado Ruvic *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-POPE-ABUSE, originally transmitted on June 10, 2015.

Ask A Catholic: 3 Reasons Why I Love Pope Francis

By Matthew Sewell

What’s your question about the Catholic faith? Submit it anonymously here or leave it in the box below.

Everyone seems to love Pope Francis. Do you as well? Why or why not?

catholicI love Pope Francis. I just do.

When thinking about my answer to this question, those words kept cropping up in my head. I just love the guy, I thought. For some reason, I’m instinctively drawn to this great pope, and the more I think about it, I’m able to boil it down to three reasons:

  1. He leads by example.

One of the toughest things for me, especially as someone who writes more and more on matters of faith, is to practice what I preach. It’s easy to read Scripture, to listen to the Church’s call for mercy, for poverty, for serving the poor, but it’s really difficult to translate that to an authentic life of action.

Pope Francis makes that challenge easier, because he lives it out every day. Tell me that you don’t want to go hug a homeless person when you see the leader of a billion people do it in front of thousands of people. Tell me you aren’t driven to open your eyes more to the marginalized when a man meeting with diplomats and world leaders by day sneaks out to be with them and serve them at night.

  1. He’s fearless.

Judging from his words and deeds, Pope Francis isn’t afraid of anyone or anything. From speaking his mind no matter what may seem prudent, to not sugarcoating or dancing around difficult subjects like the devil, family life, and abortion, Pope Francis is an inspiration in a time when we’re more worried about political correctness than we are about the state of our own souls.

Pope Francis understands that fear gets a person nowhere, and only courage will help a person evangelize and accomplish the message of the Gospel. Sitting, afraid, in our own little bubbles will only make the world waste away. Pope Francis can see that, and he’s out to show us the right way to live.

He said recently, “A fearful Christian is a person who has not understood the message of Jesus. This is why Jesus says to Paul: ‘Do not be afraid. Continue to speak.’ Fear is not a Christian attitude. It is an attitude, we could say, of a caged animal, without freedom, who does not have the freedom to look ahead, to create something, to do good . . . Do not be afraid, and ask for the grace of courage, the courage of the Holy Spirit that He sends us.”

  1. He’s a loyal son of the Church.

This last one is the key to truly understanding Pope Francis. Though it may be a disappointment for many who thought Pope Francis would “finally bring the Church out of the dark ages” and change “hopelessly outdated teachings,” as we so often hear, what he’s done is just the opposite.

What might be my favorite part about this pope is that his example is one of harmony between the guidelines of the Church and the purpose of the Church. What’s been witnessed so often in many Catholic churches over the past couple generations has been either all rules and no mercy, leading many to believe that Catholicism is nothing more than vain repetitions meant to take the fun out of life. And honestly, I can’t say I blame them.

What Pope Francis is doing is restoring the mercy and emphasizing the importance of the rules in carrying it out, bringing us back to a fuller understanding of what Jesus really created the Catholic Church to be: the vessel by which we fully experience the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Pope Francis is carrying the torch brought along by his five predecessors in leading us back to an understanding that Confession is efficacious and necessary, that the Eucharist is indispensable, that an active, joyful life is the sign of a good Christian, that life is precious in all stages, and that, above all, Jesus Christ is who we’re seeking.

Like I said, I love the guy.

About Matthew Sewell

Matthew Sewell, a Denver Broncos fan and amateur Chestertonian, loves golf, music, truth and good food. A lifelong Catholic, he graduated from a Catholic college (Carroll College; Helena, Mont.) but experienced a "re-version" to the faith during graduate studies at a state school (N. Arizona; Flagstaff, Ariz.). Irony is also one of his favorite things. He and his wife currently reside in Spokane, though they're Montanans at heart. He blogs at mtncatholic.com.

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