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Closer to the people

03:28 AM January 21, 2015

Pope Francis was elected by 115 cardinals to sit as the absolute spiritual leader of over one billion Roman Catholics worldwide. Only the People’s Republic of China selects the leader of such a large population through such a similarly undemocratic process. And yet, the Pope commands greater love, respect, and obedience from his followers than many democratically elected leaders, including perhaps many of the leaders in whose country he has guested, like the Philippines.

Pope Francis has captured the hearts, or the grudging respect of, at the very least, billions of Catholic faithful and nonbelievers alike through his humility, compassion and sincerity. He has brought his Church closer to the people, engaged in dialogue with dissidents and nonbelievers, and opened up his Church to the possibility of reform, all while continuing to defend the core values of the institution. In a cynical, hyper-cosmopolitan world, the Pope stands above the fray, breathing life into an institution that has struggled to maintain its relevance for decades. Legitimate, constitutionally-elected world leaders have essentially closed down their countries for days at a time to pay homage and to put his views on both spiritual and temporal matters on center stage across the entire land. His mere presence here has transformed the Philippines into a more thoughtful, compassionate and orderly society—at least for the few days that he is here.

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Through his leadership Pope Francis has reinvented the papacy, transforming it into perhaps the most influential office in the world, a distinction last held by the papacy during the height of the Holy Roman Empire. My great respect for Pope Francis lies not in his spiritual decrees—it lies in his unique exercise of power and influence as a model for responsible international leadership in the modern world.—AURELI C. SINSUAT, [email protected]

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TAGS: Catholic Church, papacy, Pope Francis
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