I know, I know, this feature hasn’t been… featured in a while. In all honesty the Pope has just exploded everywhere and I can’t keep up with all of his awesome. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa….

But with the Pope’s birthday being this week, and whatwith his being named the Person of the Year and all, I couldn’t not post a Popewatch this week.

The thing I love about the Holy Father is his everymanness. I feel like he understands the people (he is, after all, The People’s Pope). His wacky job history makes me feel better about my own new-job-every-year-since-I-turned-20 job history. You don’t have to look far to find articles about the Pope–it seems a new one crops up every week. (Just search ‘pope francis’ on your favorite news website.) He’s the most newsworthy Pope in my lifetime (granted there have only been three in my lifetime, but still…)

In spirit of our theme this week (Joy!) I wanted to share the Holy Father’s vision for the Catholic church (and, IMO, the broader church too). Back in November he released a new document (ahem, apostolic exhortation) called the “Evangelii Gaudium” (Joy of the Gospel). This is Pope Francis’ vision for the Catholic church in the 21st century. Listen to this: I dream of a church that is more focused on reaching out rather than collapsing in on itself and a church that is more merciful. So, in other words, instead of focusing on rules that make us judge others he wants a church that is more compassionate and forgiving. I kinda like that, don’t you?

And maybe he is taking a page from the Anglicans, us Middle Wayers. While he gives ground on some things, other things will (sadly) not be changing—no female priests, for instance. But he is definitely a reforming Pope and I think we could learn from him, too.

If you think this is another stuffy document that will end up gathering dust in the Vatican archives, I hope you are wrong. Flip through it, skim a few lines, or sit down and devour it–it is certainly an interesting read. And instead of writing in a very academic style, the HF uses more informal, accessible language, so it holds the attention a bit better.

Can’t wait to see what he will get up to in 2014. Keep your eyes peeled!


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