The "cold-calling pope" is at it again. Reports say that Pope Francis reached out to a woman in Argentina to tell her she could receive communion, despite being married to a divorced man and despite the woman's own priest telling her she couldn't receive communion.
This is not the first time Pope Francis has picked up the phone and randomly called members of the public. He reportedly called his cobbler in Argentina to check about a shoe repair, called to cancel his newspaper subscription, phoned a woman who was allegedly raped by a local police officer to counsel her and phoned a pregnant Italian woman whose fiancé had pushed her to have an abortion.
The Pope's approval rating is through the roof. Eighty-five percent of U.S. Catholics have a favorable opinion of Francis, and even 60 percent of non-Catholics also view the pontiff favorably.
Religious or not, one can't help but be drawn to how the Pope has humanized his role as the leader of the Catholic Church, one of the most powerful organizations in the world. He doesn't want special privileges or special treatment.
He won't even live in the papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace, but resides in a suite in the Vatican guesthouse named the Domus Sanctae Marthae, which was built in 1996 specifically to house cardinals during a conclave.
Francis turned a 1984 Renault 4 with a manual transmission into the new pope mobile, turned down a chauffeur-driven car his first day on the job to take the bus, and just hours after being elected, he returned to where he was staying to pay his bill with his own money.
It's not only his desire to live the lifestyle of the common man that impresses, but his take on many key issues dividing society are impressive, too. In particular, LGBT issues. While the Pope won't publicly support gay marriage, his remarks on the subject show the most backing for the LGBT population than any other well-known Christian leader. Francis said, "The church shouldn't interfere spiritually" with LGBT lives. While televangelists like Pat Robertson are known for their anti-gay slurs, and have convinced countless numbers of people that they are deprived sinners, Pope Francis simply says, "Who am I to judge?" These were the five most powerful words echoed throughout the LGBT community, if not the world, last year. The Pope is also willing to evaluate and study civil unions some more.
On the topic of sexual abuse against young boys, 70 percent of Catholics said this should be the Pope's top priority to address, and he recently did. The Pope asked forgiveness for the men of the church who caused such harm. While I don't believe this is a forgivable crime in the least, I do applaud the Pope for finally acknowledging the problem. Francis said:
The church is aware of this damage, it is personal, moral damage carried out by men of the church, and we will not take one step backward with regards to how we will deal with this problem, and the sanctions that must be imposed.
Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, covered up sexual abuses by a priest in Germany, and his defense was: "I will not be intimidated," and he advised a billion Catholics around the world to "Ignore petty gossip." Let's hope Francis is a man of his word, and keeps the best interest of our children at hand. The Catholic Church has known about the depth and breadth of abuse around the world, and has been guilty of sexual impropriety among its clergy for 2,000 years, and all the leadership, right up to the Papacy, has known about it. With all its power and might, it has continuously swept the issue under the rug.
While Pope Benedict was more of a doctrinal defender who envisioned a smaller, purer church, Pope Francis said the church should be a "home for all" and not a "small chapel" focused on doctrine, orthodoxy and a limited agenda of moral teachings.
Francis is indeed the "People's Pope" and will hopefully continue to shake things up with his more liberal views of the world we live in. He's a free thinker, a critical thinker, and exactly the kind of leader the church and the world needs right now.