Even though we are an Atheist family, my husband and I have become fans of the new pope, Francis, fairly immediately. He's such a stark contrast to the last two popes, who have been quite removed from th real issues in the world, offering leadership on issues they have no experience about, and reveling in their splendour while large numbers of their flollowers were living in extreme poverty. How could "god's voice on earth" gorge himself while their flock is starving, insisting that the only way to be a good person is to believe in their god.
Francis has been different from the beginning, from refusing to wear the flashy ceremonial garb to being the first pope in decades to be close to his followers and not hiding in a car with bullet-proof windows like his predecessors.
His latest coup is his private homily of May 22. I almost didn't believe what I was reading there. Not that "salvation" matters to me, since I don't believe in god. But the fact that the leader of the Catholic church admits, that it's not as important what to believe in but rather being a good person is such a leap into the right direction for the church, I would have not expected it. The fact that the pope encourages cooperation rather than damning believers of other faiths or free-thinkers to eternal hell (again, not that I was scared of hell, it is just an expression of respect and the willingness to acknowledge other opinions) is amazing to me.
I hope that Francis has a long papcy, because by now, I think that he might be the greatest impact in centuries. Under his leadership, almost everything is possible. I honestly don't know how he managed to be elected pope, given that his two predecessors in office made sure that the curia is growing increasingly conservative, but maybe a larger number of men of the church actually embraced some reason and the necessity of change and a new course.
I, for once, have to admit that I'm looking forward to what's coming next!