He came to America. For six days he conquered. Then he left for Rome. All while being a living embodiment of the most cherished, yet equally also the most misunderstood and maligned of all the virtues, humility. Such is Pope Francis.
"'Not him, not him and not him, therefore him,' as one cardinal put it, but what's clear is the cardinals wanted a shake-up. And they got one," stated on page 54 of Pope Francis: His Journey To America Commemorative Special Edition by US magazine. A testimony of when Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was chosen as the 266 th Roman Catholic pontiff. Furthermore, to also becoming the first Jesuit Pope as well as the first chosen from Latin America, from Argentina.
In my previous Huffpost blog about the pontiff, titled, Pope Francis: A Breeze of Fresh Air on January 8, 2014, it was barely a year since Pope Francis succeeded Pope Benedict XVI. Pope Benedict resigned after almost eight years, the first Pope to have done so, in 600 years. And yet, Pope Francis came under fire from some detractors after barely launching out of the gate. Why?
Chuck Todd of MSNBC touched upon this while airing the Pope's arrival to the U.S. on Tuesday September 22, 2015, when the correspondent basically said, "The Pope is not afraid to delve into social and political issues. He talks differently and acts differently than any of his predecessors in recent memory." It may have been easy for some in the U.S. to dislike the Pope while he was still across the Atlantic. Contrast that, with those who've heard of him and liked him even then, who grew to adoring him when he finally arrived in the flesh in Washington D.C., New York City, and lastly in Philadelphia before departing back to Rome.
So let's begin with one of the many issues on why there are those who dislike Pope Francis, and that's climate change. Some say he's not qualified to address the issue. They also say, why would he even address such an issue? Yet there are others who say, why the hell wouldn't he?
Catholic priest Father Edward Beck discussed this on September 22 nd while a guest on CNN with Brooke Baldwin, for he says, "That's why it always intrigues me when people say, well, why would he venture to talk about climate change? Because he knows about climate change and he believes that stewardship of the earth is an important value." Then later he adds, "He also had scientists that advised him in the writing of that encyclical. So he didn't wade into those waters unknown." The Pope was also a chemical technologist before entering the seminary.
There's a quote from a Native American, Chief Seattle, who said, "Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves." And then later he adds, "This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected." Pope Francis is intelligent enough to believe all things are connected.
Then there's capitalism. Of all the divisive issues this one's definitely in the top five. Some always beat this issue to excessiveness on where the Pope stands on capitalism. He's not against capitalism. He's against predatory capitalism. And yes there's a huge difference, canyon wide.
"I have followed your exploits and investments since I got off the boat. How you rose up from nothing, pulled yourself up by your bootstraps," says the Irish immigrant Sean McGinnes, before concluding, "You're a gentleman and a true capitalist." To which, railroad businessman Thomas "Doc" Durant says, "Thank you." A scene from AMC's western drama Hell on Wheels, season 1 episode 3, titled, "A New Birth of Freedom." Ah yes, capitalism, a free enterprise economic system, which has been and still to be respected, ever since frontier American lore.
Yet there's also predatory capitalism. One example of which, is the exorbitant cost of college tuition in the U.S. that's been outpacing inflation for decades. Yet another example which has gained attention recently among presidential candidates of both parties, finally, is economic inequality. Yet Pope Francis beat them all to the quick having already addressed that issue. And on one occasion was last year on January 21, 2014, while he addressed the global power elites at The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. For at that event, Pope Francis said, "I ask you to insure that humanity is served by wealth and not ruled by it." His statement also happened to have coincided with that blaring report released by the international relief organization Oxfam. This, coming from a man who was nicknamed "The Slum Bishop," back when Jorge Bergoglio, before becoming Pope Francis, had ministered among those in the slums of Buenos Aires.
Known for being among those to connect with people during his service within the Roman Catholic Church, it's also known that Pope Francis does make time for diversions. One of which is his love of films. Though it also has been mentioned he prayed a promise to the Virgin Mary that he would not watch TV. A promise he has managed to have kept, so far, for over twenty years. Such a topic was also mentioned on September 22 nd on CNN with Brooke Baldwin, again with guest Father Edward Beck, who mentioned the Pope is a Federico Fellini fan. Which if that being the case, he should check out La Dolce Vita, finally released last year by The Criterion Collection. Being also a lover of films, if ever I were to fortuitously meet him it would be great getting involved in a mutual discussion. On the other hand since he doesn't watch TV, I suppose that cancels out discussing Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Walking Dead, Humans (sci-fi drama), and also Hell on Wheels.
The virtue of humility was mentioned earlier, known as the foundation of all the virtues. Still, rarely, is it ever even mentioned in modern society among those honored in global media. Pope Francis may be the exception. Yet one may say only because he's a man of the church. That's expected. Even so, has humility always been relegated to only just priests and nuns? Not so, for there's another example, coming from the life of another man, named Neil Armstrong.
Neil Armstrong, who passed away on August 25, 2012, before being the first man to walk on the moon, had flown 78 combat missions during the Korean War. A U.S. Navy Panther jet fighter pilot on a Navy ROTC scholarship before age 22, before being a test pilot, to being an astronaut, professor of aeronautical engineering, and businessman. And yet, on the first page of Chapter 33 in the authorized biography titled, "First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong," by James R. Hansen, a quote by Armstrong reads, "I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector nerdy engineer. And I take substantial pride in the accomplishments of my profession."
A recent glowing online article about Neil Armstrong by Soo Han on October 12, 2012, titled, "Science Hero: Neil A. Armstrong," from The My Hero Project, reads, "He did not put himself above anyone else because of his success. Armstrong saw equality in all men and believed that we all deserved to be treated the same no matter what you did. He did not feel that he was more important than anybody else to be receiving so much attention." And another glowing online article about Armstrong, on September 22, 2012 by Amol Titus of The Jakarta Post, titled, "Insight: The incredible humility of Neil Armstrong," also reads, "Humility is a rare trait in today's world. The mistaken notion that the louder you proclaim 'so called accomplishments,' the better it is for your prospects, seems to have corrupted many minds." But not the minds of Pope Francis, and Neil Armstrong while he walked this earth, and the moon.
Pope Francis and Neil Armstrong, outstanding men, honored men, accomplished men, all while being also, humble men. Rest in peace Neil Armstrong. And long live Pope Francis.