Humility, simplicity and Mercy- reflections on Pope Francis’ papacy


Its already been five years since Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio announced that he would be known as Pope Francis, after his election in the conclave. The choice of his pontiff name, Francis, was affirming the power of humility and simplicity. 


His choice of St Francis of Assisi reflected his desire for the Catholic Church to be an institution “of the poor, for the poor.”


The humbleness and simplicity were shown in detail in several of occasion including the one of trading a first-class plane ticket for a coach, abandoning limousine in favour of a bus or walking and several other gestures touching to the hear and preaching to the mind. 

Pope Francis’s five years have revealed to the world a firmly liberal, global and political relevant Holy Father in modern history. The church and the world at large have come to hear the Holy Father speak against the evils of capitalist greed and climate change (encyclical: Laudato Si).


But how much of this Pope’s actions, words and ideas inspire the local clergy, religious and faithful in Zimbabwe. 

Fr Henry Wasosa, a priest of the Diocese of Mutare, said he has learnt humility from watching the Pope from the day the Pope was elected.


“From the day of his election, the Pope surprised us by asking the people to pray for him before his Papal Blessing. This was a great sign of a down to earth man of God. It also taught me that though I am a priest I also need the faithful to pray for me. His humility surprised the whole world”


The Franciscan Custos, Fr Alfigio Tuhna OFM, expressed how the Pope’s smile inspires him. 


“I am inspired by his out of box mentality. His ability to dare some untrodden paths of faith. He does not hesitate to fulfil the understanding that records are there to be broken. Secondly, his school of thought is very Franciscan. He is simple and has said a lot about nature and environment. All these inspire me in the way I minister. Above all, the pope exhibits a lot of him being human. His smile inspires me”.


Speaking to a number of the laity, Priests and nuns all pointed out how the teaching on environment by the Holy Father has inspired them to pay more attention to the nature around us. 


In the encyclical Laudato Si the Pope encourages people to respect and care for then environment. Fr Wasosa added that, the teaching on ecology teaches us that if we go against nature we will suffer the consequences. 


Almost all of our interviewees reflected on the year of Mercy expressing how it touched and changed their lives. 


Sister Esther Sakala shared her reflection on the Year of Mercy, “I have been inspired by his emphasis on God’s Mercy when he declared the Jubilee Year of Mercy. I realised how God’s love is immeasurably. We are called to God’s enduring love and limitless mercy through our own engagement with those who have not felt that love nor known that mercy from others especially in these difficult times”. 


Mr Time Baluwa, said Pope Francis has given a human character to his teachings, “Pope Francis has given a human character to what it means to be a servant leader. 


“He is eclectic in approach, embracing key qualities of a leader. When I breakdown his approach to leadership, I get inspiration from 4 attributes which are presence and Love, Self-awareness and listening, Ingenuity and Heroism”.


Mr Baluwa added that, “With Pope Francis the attributes become alive, so alive that it becomes a way of life for him. In his simple ways he calls on each of us to be present to others. Relationships wherever they are, they are not left to remote control”.


However despite all the good and humble nature of the Holy Father there are some who feel he is too liberal. The Holy Father has not only paved a way for discussions on allowing married priests in the Amazon but has also permitted divorced and remarried Catholics to take Communion and said that “God can forgive atheists” Some in the church feel these acts are damaging to the future of the church. 


Looking to the future under Pope Francis, Fr Alfigio Tunha says will be a future full of surprises and progress. However he points out that the problem arising is that of resistance from conservatives and that will stall the Church. Fr Henry Wasosa’s foresees a church that is not too rigid and bureaucratic but a church at home in our homes under the Papacy of Pope Francis. 


Mr Time Baluwa sees the church being more responsive to contemporary challenges in the future under The Holy Father’s papacy. The church has always taken its time to embrace new dimensions and somehow the slowness had its positives and it maintained stability. 


The past five years have sparked something new to the church, debates have arisen form liberals and conservatives on what really constitutes the growth of the Church. 


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