Pope Francis: a force of nature

Francis at the six-month mark

John L. Allen Jr.

As it’s come to be understood in the 21st century, the papacy is really an impossible job. A pope is expected to be the CEO of a global religious organization, a political heavyweight, an intellectual giant, and a media rock star, not to mention a living saint. Any one of those things is a life’s work; rolled together, they’re a prescription for perpetual frustration.

Yet at his six-month mark, which falls today, Pope Francis is drawing better reviews on those five scores than anyone might reasonably have anticipated back on March 13, either in terms of the magnitude of the task or the background of 76-year-old Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

When he stepped onto the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square, this was immediately a pope of firsts: the first pontiff from the developing world, the first from Latin America, the first non-European in almost 1,300 years, the first Jesuit and, of course, the first to take the name Francis. The new pope charmed the world that night by humbly asking the crowd to bless him before he blessed them and by referring to himself as “bishop of Rome” rather than more exalted titles.

Since that memorable debut, Francis over and over again has demonstrated a capacity to surprise. Read more click here…

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