Holy Father, I have a confession to make. I’ve got a crush on you.
Okay, so I know that as a rabbi, I’m not the most likely fanboy for the Pope. I mean, I’ll say right up front, he’s got all kinds of political and theological positions that I just can’t get down with. And then there’s that little matter of centuries of persecution by the church that we Jews are still just a wee bit sensitive about. No disrespect to my Catholic brothers and sisters, of course. I’m all for interfaith harmony and peace on earth and all that. All I’m saying is that a rabbi is the last person you’d think would be getting all swoony and excited over the head of the Catholic church. But it’s true. I just can’t help it. I’m starting to fall for this dude!
Now, I must say, I’ve never felt this way about a pope before. I’ve only known two other popes, and neither one has really gotten my cheerleader pom-poms thrusting. If I was gonna go all gaga for someone outside my faith, I’d probably have picked that old standby cool religious leader: the Dalai Lama. (I mean, everyone’s kind of got a crush on him, right?) But I don’t know, there’s something about this new guy in Rome that is giving Tibet some competition for my spiritual affections.
Maybe you haven’t been following his big debut since he was elected in March, and maybe you’re not following him on Twitter (which I am, @Pontifex), so you don’t know how super-cool he is. To bring you up to speed, then, I thought I’d give you…
5 Reasons Why I’m Crushing on the New Pope:
1. His Name
One of the first things that a new pope does is choose a another name he will use during his reign. And most of the names they choose are pretty heavy and medieval-sounding, not something a normal person would go by. So the last pope was Benedict XVI – don’t see too many non-popes walking around named Benedict, do ya? Well, this pope, right out the gate, announces his new name will be… FRANCIS!!! Awwwww! Francis just sounds like a darling little schoolboy to me, or like my dear aunt who cuts the crust off my sandwiches. Now, I know the name actually has profound spiritual significance to him, as a reference to St. Francis Assisi. But still, I just think it sounds so sweeeeeeeet!!
2. He’s All About the Poor
This pope has made it clear that the focus of his tenure will be on alleviating global poverty. And I don’t have anything funny to say about that. That’s just awesome.
3. He Likes Kissing Feet
I am not making this one up. In fact, he’s not even the only pope to do this. Apparently, kissing the feet of the sick and suffering is a classic Catholic spiritual practice, meant to evoke Jesus’ humility. Pretty rad. But this pope made some headlines by being the first to publicly kiss a woman’s feet. Go, Pope! Women’s feet need kissing, too! Way to come up with strangest way to advocate for women’s equality in religion that I’ve ever heard of.
4. He’s Friendly to Atheists
This one is getting a lot of attention in the news lately. Pope Francis gave this big talk where he said that everyone is redeemed by the blood of Christ. Okay, so I’m not so into the blood of Christ stuff, but check out what he said right after:
“…all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!”
That’s pretty amazing, in this age of vicious squabbling between religious and atheist fundamentalists. And it’s pretty radical language for a pope. So much so that the Vatican had to scurry to release a clarification statement that made his remarks quite a bit tamer. But I know you meant it, Francis. You’re a peacemaker – and I’m feelin’ it!
5. He Wears a Yarmulka
Okay, this one’s not really about Pope Francis. All popes wear that little white beanie that looks like a Jewish yarmulka. But since I wear one myself, I’m particularly psyched that my new homey and I have something in common: our divine fashion sense!