Pope Francis

440px-Papa_Francisco_na_JMJ_-_24072013

Photograph by Agência Brasil, a public Brazilian news agency, via Wikipedia. Click to go there.

Pope Francis was born to Italian parents in Buenos Aires, Argentina on 17th December 1936, and named Jorge Mario Bergoglio. He is the 266th and current Pope of the Catholic Church. He worked briefly as a chemical technician before entering seminary and ordained a priest in 1969. He became Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998. Following the resignation of Pope Benedict in February 2013, Pope Francis was elected. He chose the papal name Francis in honour of Saint Francis of Assisi.

I first read about him honouring American teenage (and openly gay) scientist Jack Andraka on the Facebook page of Pink Dot SG a few days ago. I’m happily stunned by this news. I don’t know where to begin. A sixteen year old scientist? Wow, that’s amazing. Who made a breakthrough in cancer research? Oh my God, that’s incredible. Pope Francis honouring his achievement? That’s wonderful.

Jack was honoured with the International Giuseppe Sciacca Award, which is given to young adults whom the Vatican considers to be positive role models. On Advocate.com I read that Jack Andraka had said in an interview:

“It’s really amazing to be recognized by the Vatican, especially as a gay scientist. I mean this would be unheard of just a few years ago. To be part of this bridge of progress is really amazing. It just shows how much the world has grown to accept people that are gay and are LGBT. It’s really amazing.”

A few months ago, I also came across on the blog Bryan Patterson’s Faithworks on Pope Francis touching on homosexuality when he said, “Who am I to judge them?”.

Huffingtonpost.com quoted the Wall Street Journal that the Pope’s comment about homosexuality was in context of a question about gay priests. He was on the plane back to Rome from Rio where he had visited slums and prisons, and presided over a Mass for three million people at Copacabana Beach. On the plane, he was taking questions from reporters and he spoke about gays and the reported ‘gay lobby’.

“Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?” the pontiff said, speaking in Italian. “You can’t marginalize these people.”

Pope Francis is much admired by many people around the world, myself included, for his humility and his concern for the poor, for his compassion for others regardless of backgrounds and religious beliefs, and for his choosing to live more modestly when he has access to luxuries at the Vatican. Long before he became Pope, he was already known for his humility and leading a simple lifestyle. For example when he was Cardinal in Buenos Aires, he was taking public transport to get around, and chose to live in a small apartment rather than in an elegant bishop’s residence, and cooked his own meals.

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3 thoughts on “Pope Francis

  1. Pingback: Jack Andraka « simple & gayforward

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