On March 13, Pope Francis told a Mexican television network he did not expect his role as Pope to last long. With regards to quantifying the remaining time, he was quoted saying it might last “four or five years.”
He believed God wants him to lead the Church for only a short time. To many this may not mean much, but to others, this is very meaningful, but why?
When I was little it was Pope John Paul II; I remember distinctly when he died. My Catholic grade school was buzzing about the new Pope and I struggled to understand why every TV picture focused on a chimney. When the white smoke came up, Pope Benedict XVI was elected. Once the excitement died down, the papacy was, for the most part, pushed to the back of my mind.
That is until 2013 when Benedict announced he was going to resign—something that hadn’t been done since Pope Gregory XII in 1415. It was a shock to many people; the Catholic Church is not necessarily known for deviating from tradition.
Pope Francis took the Holy See two years ago, in 2013. Since then the now 78-year-old leader of the Catholic Church has lead the papacy as one of action.
His words “Who am I to judge?” are a continual theme throughout his seemingly endless work with the forgotten and marginalized.
Popes can be seen as many things throughout history, but I love when they can be seen as a spectacular role model, and that’s what Francis is.
On Holy Thursday in 2013, not long after his election, Francis performed the feet-washing ritual—washing the feet of young inmates, including several women.
Typically, the service is composed of men. More recently this past Sunday, while in Naples, the pontiff openly denounced the mafia, dined with inmates and visited many who were transgender, gay and HIV positive.
Now don’t get me wrong, the Holy See is not without its historically ugly blemishes, but to see a pontiff reaching out to help those the world sometimes forgets about is a wonderful thing. Catholicism is not normally paralleled with open mindedness, but it is doing a world of good to have a leader practicing continual actions of unconditional love.
When it comes down to it, my religion is one of love and I hope people can see that. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do or don’t do. “Who am I to judge?”
Francis has not explicitly said he will retire. His cryptic prediction of a short papacy is certainly saddening, though.
If it does come to fruition however, it may show how much good can be done in a short amount of time. Doing good in the world does not require an eternity.
We can be sure however and whenever the papacy is passed on, Francis will surely be missed.