A pope of the people

On April 7, there was a presentation on Pope Francis — hosted by the CASA.

Pope Francis is no ordinary pope – the “people’s pope” tweets, takes selfies and sneaks out of the Vatican in civilian clothes to help those in need.

Paul Lippard, deacon of Saint John Fisher Chapel and OU’s campus minister, gave a presentation on Francis on Tuesday, April 7. The event was hosted by the Catholic Campus Ministry and the Chaldean American Student Association (CASA).

“I think he’s a real blessing for our church,” Lippard said.

Francis is the first pope from the Americas.

90 percent of American Catholics saw Francis as favorable as of February 2015, Lippard said, according to Pew Research Center. 69 percent of Americans viewed him as favorable. President Obama had a 47 percent approval rating at the time, Lippard said.

Lippard pointed out the simple clothes and furniture that Francis has. Many popes lived luxurious lifestyles.

“He’s so different than what we had,” Lippard said.

Francis’ main concern is being compassionate and inclusive. He said that he believes in a God who loves everyone, including those often shunned by the church such as people in the LGBT community and women who have had abortions.

“He’s more into forgiveness rather than judging,” said Halim Sheena, president of CASA and a fourth year studying business information technology.

The pope is also available to those who need him. He calls people if they write him a letter asking for his help. A woman was afraid her church wouldn’t baptize her baby because she had it out of wedlock. Francis called her and said if they wouldn’t baptize it, he would.

“He’s not afraid to ask the good and hard questions,” Lippard said.

Lippard explained that the focus of the church could shift toward one of compassion as opposed to rule-following. However, big changes depend on how long he’s pope and who is pope after him.

Sheena thinks changes have already been made since the pope emphasizes acceptance.

“He’s really bringing a great energy back into the church … I feel like they made a 20-year-old in charge of the church,” he said, adding that the pope is wise. “You can’t not like him. He’s cool.”

Some people find the pope shocking.

“My usual reaction is OMG, he’s actually saying that,” Lippard said. “Thank God he’s saying it. It needs to be said.”

Lippard said it’s good for people to know what the pope is doing because he is the head of the church and a good role model.

“I think everyone needs good role models and heroes,” Lippard said. “It’s easier to understand what it is to be holy when you’ve got someone in front of you living it.”

“I think this is exactly what the church needed,” Sheena said.