By Scott Howard
By the time you read this Pope Francis will have come to the U.S. and gone and will most likely have done what he does best, both inspire and challenge us with the Gospel message. As a Church History teacher this is the perfect time to emphasize where we have come from (we just talked about the significance of St. Peter receiving the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven) and where we are now.
During the pope’s trip we watched a 14 minute segment from “60 Minutes” about Pope Francis and his trip to America and did live streaming of the Pope Francis speech from the White House (as the Papal flag fluttered in the wind behind Francis, revealing the Papal crest with the Keys they so recently learned about).
During the week when a student asked me about what we would be discussing for the period, I said we were going to talk about Pope Francis. He replied, “Man, he is so cool!” So I decided to ask my students, “What do you like about Pope Francis?”
This is how they responded: They like his humility and simplicity. The fact that he lives in a hotel room and prefers a Ford to a Mercedes and old black shoes to red Gucci slippers. They like that he always seems to be smiling and that he is so approachable.
His focus on taking care of the earth was something else that came up several times, as well as the compassion he exhibits for others, like embracing a man with tumors all over his head and body, or washing the feet of teenage prisoners. Finally, one other thing that stood out is that they like how grandfatherly he appears. I did notice that whenever I show them something about Pope Francis there is an audible, “He’s so cute!”
As a Theology teacher it’s great to see the students so excited about the Papacy and I have to agree with them…he is cool.