By Cristina Odone
The Daily Telegraph
Pope Francis delivers his speech at a special audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Saturday, June 11, 2016
Pope Francis: kindness is all
I’m as guilty as the next person of playing the Francis game. “Is the Pope a socialist?” I asked in a Newsweek cover story a fortnight ago. I was echoing a steady stream of comments debating the subject of His Holiness’s politics: “Is the Pope a liberal?” asked some pundits, while others suspected the reverse. The culture war between the liberal and conservative factions are so furious these days that Damian Thompson went so far as to ask this morning whether Pope Francis’s comments on gay adoption might prompt Time magazine to remove their accolade – he was their Person of the Year.
But asking whether Francis is ‘”liberal” or “conservative” is about as useful as asking “is the Pope a Catholic”? Francis, displaying a fine Jesuitical mind, can sound like a liberal to liberals and a conservative to conservatives. This is not the secret of his immense appeal. People love Pope Francis because he is kind. A thousand anecdotes proving his humanity have built his public image – everything from his sneaking out at night to feed the poor to his personally telephoning a father mourning his son’s premature death. To capture the public’s imagination, good deeds trump any amount of words.
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Most people really don’t care about theological nuances and political subtleties. They care about kindness. My 20-year-old stepson, who hasn’t set foot in a church (willingly) in years, quotes Francis at me on an almost daily basis. He’s getting his information from Twitter and Pulse, and is the one to tell me that Francis had said an atheist could be a good person, and who told me the Pope had made sandwiches for his Swiss guard when he was hungry.
Sadly, acts of kindness are so rare among public figures, that Francis strikes us as extraordinary. We have come to expect high-profile to mean high-maintenance. To learn that someone in a supreme position can do so much good is positively subversive. Far more so than if the Pope were a socialist.
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Act of kindness: Pope Francis (left) comforted Vinicio Riva, a 52-year-old Italian who had travelled to Rome for a audience in Saint Peter’s Square in Vatican City, November 6, 2013
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2489534/Touching-moment-Pope-Francis-halted-weekly-general-audience-kiss-hold-disfigured-man.html#ixzz4JwKboiL0
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Pope Francis washed and kissed the foot of a prisoner at Casal del Marmo youth prison in Rome March 28, 2013
Pope Francis greets a man as he meets with patients, family and staff at St. Francis of Assisi Hospital in Rio de Janeiro July 24, 2013. The pope addressed a group of recovering drug addicts offering them a message of compassion and hope as well as a call to s elf-determination. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Tags: Damian Thompson, Francis had said an atheist could be a good person, humanity, Is the Pope a socialist?, kindness, Marxist, personally telephoning a father mourning his son's premature death., Pope Francis, sneaking out at night to feed the poor, who am I to judge