PF smilesMy article for Aleteia this week focusses on the humble actions of Pope Francis and their power to make a statement about the Catholic faith.

While Francis’ gestures of humility are important, we should stop and ask ourselves what they are really worth. Critics say they are empty gestures. Washing the feet of prisoners, embracing people with disfiguring diseases and reaching out to the mentally ill, the disabled and the poor make for good press and are wonderful photo opportunities, but are they really any more than window dressing? Furthermore, couldn’t it be argued that these very gestures are somewhat showy? Is it really humble to kiss lepers and wash the feet of prisoners if the cameras are rolling? Is it humble to tell the whole world you are living humbly? Wouldn’t it have been more humble to live in the apostolic palace in simplicity as previous popes have done? Are outward shows of humility humble at all?

To make such objections is to misunderstand the prophetic nature of the papal office. One of the main functions of the papacy is that of a figurehead. The pope symbolizes Catholicism as Queen Elizabeth symbolizes all that is best of Great Britain. As the head of the Catholic Church every pope plays a symbolic and ceremonial role through which he incarnates and lives out the values and beliefs of the Catholic religion. Each pope does this in a different way—bringing his own gifts and personality to the task.

Go here to read the whole article