Once again Pope Francis has hit the headlines, this time for revealing his anxiety over becoming Pope. Before his name was announced to the world, he sat in silence in a quiet room with his eyes closed wondering whether to decline. He describes being filled with a great light and the anxiety fading away. How refreshing to hear that a public figure such as the Pope admits his vulnerability. Somehow, it makes him more human, more approachable, more ‘one of us’.
Clearly Pope Francis is determined to do things differently, refusing to embrace pomp and ceremony, embracing dialogue, choosing to live simply and to speak directly. He wants to open up the Catholic Church to the young, the old and the marginalised who feel ignored by society – something that all churches should want to do.
Last month the Pope was given a new car. Well, actually it was an old one. Instead of being driven around Rome in a limo, Pope Francis is driving himself in a 1984, Renault 4 GTL with 200,000 miles on the clock. This is a Pope who understands very well that actions speak louder than words. He speaks about wanting a Church that connects with the lives of ordinary people. What could be more ordinary than driving an old car?
Honest vulnerability and simple living. The Pope challenges us all, regardless of our religious affiliation – or none.
The Revd Canon Nikki Arthy