Francis Friday: Welcoming the Pope!

Pope Francis is visiting the United States for the first time! I could hardly believe my ears when I tuned in to the 5:00 news (which I seldom watch, as most news is negative) on Tuesday, to discover that His Holiness had just stepped off the plane a few hours before in Washington, D.C. What an auspicious occasion for President Obama, Michelle Obama and their daughters to meet and greet the Pope! One cardinal on the plane joked about trading his “zucchetto” with the Pope’s, and I had no idea what he meant. So I looked up that word on Wikipedia, and found out it’s the skull cap worn by high officials in the Roman Catholic Church. Apparently, Pope Francis had a difficult time keeping his zucchetto on, as it was very windy and it kept blowing off. 🙂 Cardinals wear a scarlet red zucchetto, and the white is exclusively reserved for the Bishop of Rome (other name for Pope).

From Wikipedia: The zucchetto originated as the Greek pilos and is related to the beret (which itself was originally a large zucchetto). It was adopted circa the Early Middle Ages, if not earlier, to keep clerics’ heads warm. Its name derives from its resemblance to half a pumpkin. Its appearance is almost identical to the Jewish kippah (yarmulke), though its significance is quite different.[4][5]

I think it’s great that Pope Francis is referred to as “The People’s Pope”, and reminds me of Princess Diana (Queen of People’s Hearts). His approval rating in our country is close to 90% and he’s venturing into areas of discussion and debate that most Popes have never considered before. Pope Francis is humble, modest, charming, merciful and accessible, which the public loves! Although I’m not a Roman Catholic, I am certainly grateful for what Pope Francis represents, which is the Unconditional Love of Christ, mercy, forgiveness and charity. His generosity is clearly evident in his behavior toward the “common people”.

Pope Francis even embraced a handicapped man who had a disfigured face. This picture brings tears to my eyes, as an example of genuine compassion. Reminds me of Princess Diana and her volunteer work with lepers in the hospital:

Our Pope is living up to the legacy of St. Francis of Assisi, as he’s stated that He’s very proud to be named after this compassionate saint, who loved ALL of God’s creatures, and was a champion of the poor and destitute. The Pope is building bridges and healing wounds on a grand scale, such as the work he’s been doing in Cuba.

I’m very encouraged by Pope Francis’s “Encyclical Letter”. What a tremendous Wake Up Call about despoiling the environment and exploitation/abuse of wildlife, careless disregard of the sacredness of biodiversity. Hunting God’s creatures to extinction is an abomination and a SIN against Nature, when we should consider them our Spiritual Brothers and Sisters. That belief comes across very strongly in Pope Francis’s Chapter IV and pays tribute to St. Francis with Verse 87 which is the Canticle of the Sun, St. Francis’s heartwarming hymn to God’s Creations.

And here’s Pope Francis’s stance on Animal Protection:

Even the Pope’s dietary regimen is influenced by his respect for animals, and his repulsion for  industrialized factory farming, which is the prime contributor of Greenhouse Gases – the cause of global warming. He is essentially a Vegetarian, and eats mostly organically grown produce, following a simple Jesuit tradition.

Here’s the latest itinerary for the Pontiff’s travels:

I only wish that Pope Francis would come to the west coast, specifically the San Francisco Bay Area. After all, like the Pope himself, the city was named after Saint Francis of Assisi!

What are your views on the Pope’s historic visit?  I would love to hear your thoughts. 🙂

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