Pope Francis prepares to embark on historic first trip to the United States

Keelin des Rosiers, Contributing Writer

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I remember standing in my kitchen on March 13, 2013 when my mom came running in yelling, “Habemus Papam!” We rushed to the TV and saw an image of the night sky over the Vatican Museums with a tiny puff of white smoke billowing up toward the stars. What was an exciting day for the Catholic world quickly transformed into a night of raving over the exciting Pope Francis. This Argentine pope immediately won the hearts of his flock — we all fell in love when he smiled, waved and asked us to pray for him. Remarkably, this Jesuit priest very soon began winning over the hearts of non-Catholics as well. And now, two years later, Pope Francis is preparing to embark on a historic first trip to the United States. Americans — only 22 percent of whom are Catholic — are bubbling with excitement at the impending visit. But why is the head of the Catholic Church so popular? He has been called the “Pope of Surprises” and the “Pope of Hope”, but I believe that his true attractive power is his ability to be relatable to everyone in his flock, Catholic and non-Catholic, rich and poor, conservative and liberal. Every American in this diverse country can find something in Pope Francis with which to fall in love. Pope Francis is human, and does not pretend otherwise. It is his visible, relatable humanity that makes Pope Francis so beloved, here in America and everywhere else. As previously stated, Pope Francis is known as the Pope of Surprises. Just days after the white smoke announced his election to the papacy, rumors spread throughout the world that he had escaped the Swiss guards, dressed in a simple cassock and given alms to the poor — in the middle of the night! Whether or not this rumor was true, it instantly won over the hearts of many. The Catholic Church teaches that one must help the poor, and here, in the person of Pope Francis, is a man who does just that. By reaching out to the poor, then and throughout his pontificate, Pope Francis reaches people where they are. Pope Francis also continues to live out his own vow of poverty by wearing normal slippers, avoiding the Papal palace and carrying a simple cross. The poor and their defenders alike adore the pope’s surprises. As the pope prepares to discuss poverty and immigration with President Obama in D.C., to address climate change and its effect on the poor with the United Nations in New York, and to sponsor the World Meeting of the Families in Philadelphia, America prepares to meet this beloved, relatable pope. This pope lives what he promotes, providing a shining, simple example for his people. Rich or poor, or somewhere in between, we all have families, and each of us is affected by the climate. We all have a stake in what Pope Francis plans to discuss during his visit to America. He comes as a normal human, whose message is crucial for the rest of us to hear. And, because we will see this beloved pope living out his message in surprising ways, I don’t think we will be able to help but listen. Pope Francis has found the way he can “spread the word of God to every corner of the world” — by reaching every corner of the world himself.

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