Habemus Papem, (We have a Pope) was the announcement given in Latin on March 13th, at the election of Pope Francis, the first Latin American, Jesuit, and non-European pope in more than a millennium.
In these early weeks, Pope Francis has proven to be unique, shunning papal perks and embracing humility. Some of these actions include refusing to wear the luxurious papal garments or ride in the bulletproof Pope-mobile, preferring to make face-to-face public appearances.
The latest news story has been about the not-so-traditional traditional foot-washing. Every Easter the sitting pontiff washes the feet of 12 men, but this year, Pope Francis chose to go to the Casa del Marmo juvenile delinquent center, washing and kissing the fleet of twelve inmates, including Muslims and women.
While some disapproved of this deviance from tradition, most applauded the act of humility and kindness. According to a recent poll, 76% of Catholics say Pope Francis makes them feel more optimistic regarding the future of the Catholic Church.
History teacher Mr. Stewart offered a more historical perspective.
“I think the Church has made a selection reflective of Catholics across the world. Catholicism is growing in third world countries, so choosing a Pope from South America is a practical choice…I think the fact that he’s a Jesuit is cool, too.”
Jesuit (The Society of Jesus) theology focuses on outreach to the poor and the improvement of society through improvement of the individual. In the words of Ghandi, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Only time will tell what changes will come from this unique pope at the head of an institution many believe is in need of leadership and reform.