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Citizenship

11 times Pope Francis got it right

By Christina Nuñez|

Flickr: Catholic Church England/ Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk

Being a Global Citizen means something different to each of us. But, I think there’s one definition everyone can get behind: it’s about caring for one another, regardless of geography, and protecting the world we live in. There are so many amazing individuals who live by this ideology each and every day, from the Dalai Lama, to the late Nelson Mandela. But today, I’d like to talk about a personal hero of mine- Pope Francis.

Never mind the fact that he’s a spiritual leader to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics (This piece isn’t about religion). Pope Francis is a Global Citizen who leads by example and has used his position of power to stress the importance of inclusivity, caring for the poor and needy, and respecting the environment. Just check out these 11 examples of the Pope workin’ it:

Flickr: Catholic Church England/ Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk

1. The Pope takes a different stance from his predecessors by not condemning non-believers. He said “doing good” is the principle that unites all humanity, beyond the diversity of ideologies and religions. Amen to that!

2. He made a momentous statement when he said, “A gay person who is seeking God, who is of good will — well, who am I to judge him?” And he went on to say that those who identify as gay should not be marginalized, but rather included in society. While this should be a no-brainer, it too was a big deal due to his predecessors’ differing views.

3. Pope Francis sets an example by ignoring stigmas and caring for the sick, disfigured, and disabled. In one powerful moment, he identified a disfigured man in a crowd of worshipers, approached him, and kissed him on the forehead. This message is especially significant today, as too many people treat people from Ebola affected countries with fear and suspicion.

4. He spoke out against anti-immigrant hatred and discrimination when he said, “It is possible to dialogue, to listen to one another, to make plans together, and in this way to overcome suspicion and prejudice, and to build a coexistence that is ever more secure, peaceful, and inclusive.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Flickr: Catholic Church England/ Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk

5. Rather than viewing the homeless who reside by the Vatican as a menace, the Pope is working to ease their suffering. To that end, he plans to convert restrooms in the Vatican into showers for homeless who have limited options. I can’t help but notice the stark contrast to the more than 50 cities in the United States which have recently been in the news for attempting to restrict or ban food sharing with the homeless.

6. Pope Francis is getting into the holiday spirit in a different way this year. After years of receiving well-intentioned gifts that he has no use for, he will raffle them off in an effort to raise money for charity. A Fiat Panda (which, apparently, is a car), bikes, clothes, and electronic items are just a few of the gifts he will be raffling off. With any luck the papal raffle will raise hundreds of thousands of euros.

7. In June, 2013 he demonstrated compassion for all when he addressed the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization. He said, “A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth, and not simply to close the gap between the affluent and those who must be satisfied with the crumbs falling from the table, but above all to satisfy the demands of justice, fairness and respect for every human being.”

8. The Pope likes to keep it real, and has a record of living modestly rather than lavishly. He famously chose to live in a guest house rather than the papal apartments, and he typically prefers simple clothing to expensive dress.

Flickr: Catholic Church England/ Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk

9. Just recently, he stressed the importance of food security and nutrition when he addressed delegates from the 172 nations at the Second International Conference on Nutrition. He told delegates, despite there being enough food to feed the world food issues are regularly subject to manipulated information, claims about national security, and corruption. Addressing these challenges, needs to be the first step, he added.

10. And the Pope took things further when he condemned wasteful behavior, saying, "Our grandparents used to make a point of not throwing away leftover food. Consumerism has made us accustomed to wasting food daily and we are unable to see its real value," Francis said at his weekly audience in St. Peter's Square. "Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of those who are poor and hungry."

11. Last on my list, Pope Francis stood up for the environment when he praised trash pickers (cartoneros) who sort through trash for recyclable and reusable items. He thanked them for their dignified work, and said that recycling is good for the environment (well, duh!)


With a list like that, it’s no wonder Pope Francis is so beloved and pope-ular. Let’s follow his example by recognizing the important role we play as Global Citizens.

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Christina Nuñez

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