Though I'm not a Catholic, I'm always genuinely inspired by followers of Christ who try to live lives of true humility and true right-sizedness. I hope, for both the sake of his church and the church universal, that Pope Francis lives into the name he has chosen for himself.
By reopening the contacts between the Catholic Church and China, Francis and Xi Jinping would not only revive one of the most significant moments of the dialogue between civilizations but they would also contribute to the solidarity and unity of mankind.
The key to achieving the reform so desperately needed by both Catholic and Protestant churches was right under Pope Francis' nose the moment he stepped out on the Vatican balcony. Clues can be found in a cloud of pink smoke and in the legacy of his patron saint, Francis of Assisi.
When my 14-year-old, who is not Catholic, asked me whether I "liked the new guy," I told her I didn't l know yet, but that it was unlikely that any guy I liked would ever get that job.
Francis is the pope, not a politician. Applying a political framework to interpret his actions is like following a baseball game with a football manual.
In Pope Francis' brief homily for the inaugural Mass of his papal ministry, he emphasized something that should be familiar to American Catholics who have seen a certain motto sometimes displayed on police cars.
Many Catholics are hopeful the new pope will initiate needed change in their Church. There are some early signs that his papacy might be different. But it remains to be seen whether Pope Francis will be a proponent of change or an opponent to it.
In my reading this week I came across a fascinating story about St. Francis that speaks deeply to that last commitment to work toward the repair of an ailing church. This story is a challenge for us all.
Francis of Assisi is among the most beloved saints of the Church. In taking the name Francis, the new pope has signaled to the world something of his intentions for his papacy.
Imagine what could happen if Pope Francis truly follows in the footsteps of his namesake. Imagine a more peaceful world that respects religious difference. I believe it can happen.
St. Francis' whole program of the "Gospel Life," was about the renunciation of power that placed barriers between him and others, him and God, and him and the rest of creation. Pope Francis seems to understand the significance of his name.
In a moment of silence at St. Peter's, we saw something we don't see much on the world stage: authentic humility. That's the essence of our faith, and that's what will renew our Church.
When the new pope supports the freedom and equality of all people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and when he shows the world that he has the courage to expose and prosecute every child-raping priest in the Catholic Church, I'll have some respect for him.
On the night of his election, as Francis bowed before the multitudes, the world fell silent for a few moments, as if to catch our collective breath for what is already proving to be a ground-breaking moment in the Church's long history.
Nothing is "more important" than refocusing the Church's ministry on global poverty and, at the same time, changing the Church's overt style and deep-seated culture from one that glorifies the rituals and realities of power to a style of humility and culture of service.
Although he did not specifically say so, the assumption is that the new pope chose this name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, who was renowned for his austere life, his love of nature and his fierce dedication to the poor. It is possible, however, that another Francis was the model he had in mind.