The papacy: Five reasons young adults love the pope

By Catherine Loftus

Like his predecessor Pope John Paul II, Pope Francis has a particular appeal to young people around the world with his simple message of compassion and mercy.

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POPE FRANCIS HAS THE WORLD TALKING, but young people especially are loving him! In a changing world, it seems as if the current pope understands that the church must continue evolving as well to ensure that the truth of the gospel is being heard and received. Francis’ focus on the love and mercy of Christ and the joy of the gospel is refreshing for the younger generation of Catholics. Pope Francis brings simplicity to a role that has sometimes been seen as overly ostentatious and rigid in years past.

1. He’s all about the people.
Pope Francis is known for taking selfies with bystanders, reaching out to children, and building connections with those who gather to see him. This is part of what makes the Pope feel approachable to young people. He is willing to take risks and step outside what he calls the “sardine can” of the popemobile to guide the church and make all feel welcome. This is a quality young people admire.

2. Who am I to judge?
These now famous words of Pope Francis resonated strongly with Catholics and non-Catholics everywhere. In a world where divisive political topics often overshadow the big picture of the church, Pope Francis made clear the church’s central message of love. This spoke volumes to young people to see the leader of the church making a strong statement that people are more important than politics. These words hinted at changes in the church that many young people want to see.

3. He is transforming the papal office.
From refusing to live in extravagant quarters to choosing modest vestments and cutting bonuses in the Vatican, Pope Francis is the epitome of a humble servant. He is dedicated to the poor and marginalized and is showing the world that the Catholic Church can talk the talk and walk the walk. He is encouraging service and sacrifice not by telling, but by doing. This is a powerful message for young people, and one that is inspiring service around the world.

4. He uses Twitter.
And he has more than 12 million followers! Pope Francis was named Time’s Person of the Year, and he was on the cover of Rolling Stone. He is getting lots of media attention for how he is changing the public face of the church, and this is yet another way he is reaching young people. With his use of social and traditional media, people of all faiths are getting to see how love and acceptance are a part of Catholic teaching. In a world where many young people feel it is taboo to talk about religion, Pope Francis is making it cool.

5. He is human.
Pope Francis said of himself: “The pope is a man who laughs, cries, sleeps well and has friends like everyone else; a normal person.” It is this humble attitude and the normalcy that he brings to the papal office that has captivated audiences, both young and old. He has spoken time and time again about how he is a regular guy and enjoys things like World Cup soccer and motorcycles. He does not view himself as living above the people he serves, but as one who walks with all of us in our journey to follow Christ. I believe this is the most important part of Pope Francis’ ministry. He is out working with people, talking to people, and adapting his role as a world leader and religious leader to communicate with and relate to ordinary people, especially young people, in hopes to bring the world closer to Christ.

Catherine LoftusCatherine Loftus, a graduate of St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, is currently a student at the University of Michigan.

2014 © TrueQuest Communications

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