Pope Francis, Time magazine’s Person of the Year, is captivating. He is humble. He lives in a hostel instead of the apostolic palace and drives an old Ford instead of the papal Mercedes. He is accessible. He has been known to cold-call people in need and he takes part in selfie photographs with his followers. He is a man who doesn’t just talk the talk but walks the walk. Pope Francis is a breath of fresh air.
Amidst the praise and awe around the globe, Pope Francis is also garnering criticism. This is to be expected since the pope is a man who is stepping out of the norm. Aristotle said, “To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” Pope Francis is most assuredly doing something.
One corner of criticism is from conservatives. According to Time, conservatives bemoan that in his exhortation he mentioned abortion only once. This censure is astonishing when one looks at Pope Francis’ actions. Pope Francis offered to baptize the baby of a divorced woman whose married lover wanted her to abort it. He has also admonished priests who won’t baptize children born out of wedlock for their “rigorous and hypocritical neo-clericalism.” Actions such as these are sanctifying life and giving pregnant women, who fear condemnation, the courage to choose life.
Actions such as these emulate Christ’s mercy. Actions such as these value not only life but the quality of the life, and soul, of both the mother, who chose life, and the child. Pope Francis’ actions speak much louder than his words. His compassion for the single mother and child is a stellar example of Christ’s love.