Thursday, March 26, 2015

I Like This Guy!

Of all the pronouncements world leaders make on a daily basis – and there have been quite a few recently – the one pronouncement that captured the world’s attention last week came from Pope Francis.

In a press interview, he confessed that the one thing he misses now that he is Pope is –

Wait, lean in closer!

– the ability to slip out and get a slice of pizza every now and then without being recognized!

I like this guy!

And upon hearing this alarming news, pizza-maker Enzo Cacialli sprang into action! He created a special pizza just for Pope Francis and hand-delivered it to the Popemobile during the Pope’s visit to Naples on Saturday.

The Captain applauds Enzo Cacialli for his quick thinking and loving gesture.

But this whole incident got the Captain thinking. What does a Pope eat?

And I was not completely surprised to discover that, unlike his predecessors, Pope Francis takes his meals in the communal dining room at the Vatican Hotel, along with other visitors to the Vatican, helping himself to the same cafeteria-style food that everyone else eats.

And why is this not surprising?

Already, Pope Francis has rejected much of the regalia of the papacy. You won’t see him in fur-trimmed velvet capes, and he prefers ordinary black shoes over the traditional red slippers. He lives in a two-room apartment instead of in the Apostolic Palace, and whenever he does wander out, he drives a Ford Focus instead of the papal Mercedes. He declined to order a new set of porcelain tableware with his papal crest, and he passed on a new papal ring.

Of course, this has created murmurs of disapproval from some in the Roman Catholic faith. This first-ever Latin American Pope is just “undignified”.

So remember, children, that no matter who you are or what you do, there will always be someone there waiting to criticize you... even if you're the Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the Vatican City State, and Servant of the servants of God!

So always follow your heart.

But those critics should have realized what they were getting when they elected Cardinal Bergoglio – a Jesuit – to be the vicar of Christ. Some Vatican watchers saw the election as simply a political move by the Conclave to shore up support among the growing Latin American Church.

What they got was anything but politics-as-usual.

The new Pope took his name from St. Francis of Assisi, the 13th century saint about whom Pope Francis said, “He brought to Christianity an idea of poverty against the luxury, pride, vanity of the civil and ecclesiastical powers of the time. He changed history.”

St. Francis was known for three things: his love for creation, his commitment to peace, and his care for the poor.

These three concerns make up the core beliefs of Pope Francis as well, beliefs which guide his daily life and inform his public pronouncements.

For example, he describes the Church as a field hospital after a battle.  

“The thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds.”

When a reporter asked him about the status of gay priests in the Church, the Pope replied, “Who am I to judge?” He has repeatedly argued that the Church’s purpose is more to proclaim God’s merciful love for all people than to condemn sinners for having fallen short.

We need more world leaders like Pope Francis – people who, rather than chasing after the shifting (and often uninformed) winds of public opinion, have a set of core beliefs which they refuse to compromise.

If you follow football – or even if you don’t – you probably know that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ended up in dead last place this past season. And while that brings a tear to the Captain’s eye, it also gives the Bucs the first-round draft pick of this year’s new class of rookies.

For the past three months there has been a great deal of speculation about how the team’s management will use that prize. I won’t bore you here with all the possibilities. But in a press release today, it was announce that the decision would be made “based on the team’s research and not on the potential reaction to its choice.”

That’s what I’m talking about!

Those who lack core values, who lack a clearly defined vision, who depend on public opinion polls to guide their decision-making are doomed to fail.

Have I mentioned yet that Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is the first candidate to officially throw his hat into the ring for the 2016 Presidential Race?

“Doomed, I tell you!”

And here’s why core values are especially important.

In a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it was found that “the precise timing of our decisions can be a powerful influence on the choices that we end up making. The process of arriving at a moral decision is not only reflected in people’s eye gaze, but can also be determined by it.”

In short, one’s decision-making can be swayed by the images last seen. This can be as blatant as seeing a “YES!” banner right before going in to vote on a ballot initiative, or as subtle as showing photos of terror victims when debating the need to send more troops into combat.

It’s why the Humane Society commercials show all the sad puppies and kitties right before asking for your donation!

This also explains why FOX News is so popular. The short skirts and ubiquitous up-skirt shot tend to catch the viewer's attention and favorably sway the opinions of said viewer.

I kid you not!

And you probably thought that was just an accident!

So yes, it is refreshing to find a world leader – or anyone today for that matter – who knows who he is and what he believes, and lives that out!

Go be like that!