by Abby Crowell
Pope Francis was elected in 2013 and is proving to be the most liberal pope that the Vatican has seen. As a Catholic school, Manhattan College may be impacted by what Pope Francis changes. Pope Francis is responsible to take action on hot button issues that will affect those around the world, no matter which religion people claim.
Since Pope Francis has become the 266th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, he has spoken out about his true beliefs without fearing the consequences.
The pope has been referred to as, “the people’s Pope” due to his passion to start conversations about topics that are usually taboo for the church.
One of these issues is global warming.
“Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience,” Pope Francis states in his encyclical.
Going beyond global warming, Pope Francis has outwardly criticized the church for its locus stance on the in demand topics of abortion, same-sex marriage and divorce.
Pope Francis offers a new outlook on the out of bounds topic within the religious communities.
Students at MC share a variety of opinions regarding the pope’s liberal standing.
Sophomore Miles Preiss attended a Catholic high school and is enthusiastic about Pope Francis and his modern methods to change the Catholic Church.
“First off, Pope Francis even looks friendlier compared to the prior popes. It is refreshing for the pope to be an optimist and is not too strict about the normal religious standards. I also like how he is trying to expand the church’s views on gay rights,” he said.
Preiss believes it would be very beneficial if MC started to make radical changes like the Pope is doing, but realizes it is easier said than done.
“I feel like the Pope is allowed to be more radical than the school,” he said. “ Catholic schools move more gradually, especially since a lot of students are conservative and therefore a lot of compromise would be needed to make radical changes at MC.”
One of MC’s students, Billy Simmons, attends church every Sunday and is quite pleased with the lifestyle Pope Francis has chosen.
“I like how humble the Pope is. He is constantly proving that he is not the Pope for the benefit of fame or fortunes that usually come with his career. He tackles the issues that people do not usually confront when talking about the Catholic Church,” Simmons said.
Stephanie Powell, Ph.D., a religion professor at MC, possesses a positive perception of the Pope.
“One of the things that most impresses me about Pope Francis is his desire to forge relationships of compassion and justice across religious differences.”
Powell believes the Pope is making a positive difference through his actions.
Pope Francis washed the feet of Syrian refugees on Maundy Thursday. This is significant, because it is the same day in the Gospel of John that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.
“I feel like in that moment, Pope Francis brought the gospel alive in a new context, reminding us all that all of the vitriol aimed at religious and racial minorities in our present political climate runs counters to Jesus’s message,” Powell stated.
Although Powell is a Protestant, Pope Francis has truly inspired her to be the hands and feet of the living God.