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100 Days

Catholic Review Column: Review in the Pew

Earlier this month, the whole Church marked the 100th day of the pontificate of Pope Francis. While it may be hard to believe that it has been 100 days since the dramatic election of our new Holy Father, it may be even more surprising how he’s been received.

One of the reasons for this is his style and his approach to his public ministry. He is, by all accounts, a simple man whose humility and warmth are strikingly evident, obvious to anyone who hears his refreshingly clear words and witnesses his bold but loving actions.

Whether choosing to walk the streets of the Vatican or to live in the modest Domus Sanctae Marthae, Pope Francis has signaled to the world that his papacy will be marked by simplicity. This is no surprise to those who knew the Pope as Cardinal Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires who took buses and subways to work, and whose humility and humanity are consistent with his deep love and concern for the poor.

Since his election just over 100 days ago, the Pope has taken special care to remind Catholics of our love and our preferential option for the poor. He has spoken out against the disparity in economic prosperity around the world and against a consumer driven “culture of waste” where he said “throwing food away is like stealing from the tables of the poor.”

Of course, to be open to a life of simplicity and ever-aware of those living on the margins of society, one must be truly humble. This is, perhaps, our Pope’s greatest gift. Through Pope Francis, we see the humility of Jesus and understand that we too are called to live our lives more selflessly, more humbly. This was apparent from the very day of his election, when he asked the prayers of those present before imparting the traditional apostolic blessing to them. It seems he even brought a sandwich to a Swiss Guard who reluctantly agreed to sit and oblige the wishes of the empathetic Pope he is duty-bound to protect!

To be sure, the pontificate of Benedict XVI, with his simple, gentle, humble style, coupled with his masterful teaching of the Faith, was and remains a tremendous gift to the whole Church. And now we thank God for the gift of Pope Francis, knowing that, though his style may in some things differ from his predecessor, our new Pope bears witness to the same, changeless faith, and to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.