Boston Globe associate editor, and CNN Vatican Correspondent, John Allen recently visited Assumption College to give the first President’s Lecture of the year on Pope Francis. The hall near the bookstore was packed as people awaited the lecture to begin. The lecture began with comments by President Francesco Cesareo.
When John Allen took the podium the room was silent, as people were waiting to hear what he had to say. John Allen said Pope Francis “is the pope of Mercy.” This means that the Pope thinks it is important for the church to show kindness and understanding to people who have made mistakes and sinned.
Allen also said Pope Francis “cannot be all things to all people.” This means people could be disappointed when they realize that Pope Francis may not reform the church as much as they would have hoped. According to Allen, Pope Francis also understands the church must go out into the street and meet people where they are, and make them feel welcome in the church. Allen also said that Pope Francis sees himself as the “missionary of the of the Catholic Church.”
Allen was trying to get us to understand how Pope Francis wants the Church to become more focused on the poor than perhaps it was in the past. We see this from Pope Francis’ own life, when he was the Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires, when he lived in a modest apartment that had no heat.
Allen also mentioned that this is the “first Pope that the mainstream media has paid attention to.” This is interesting because it seems that everywhere the Pope goes, the people and media love him.
Allen said, “that 93% of American Catholics approve of the pope.” According to him, it is a very high number because in most cases, American Catholics disagree with Rome.
Allen, who has met many popes, thinks there is something special about Pope Francis because he tries to make reforms to the Church, while still being faithful to Church teachings. It remains to be seen what changes, if any that Pope Francis will make without alienating the conservative members of the Church, particularly those at the Vatican, who help run the Church.
Pope Francis wants to reform the Vatican to make the Church run more smoothly. As Allen said, “Pope Francis knows what he is doing all of the time.” This will help him in the long run because he has won over the people and the media, like no pope ever has.