Sharing the ‘Francis Effect’

Pope Francis exhibited amazing energy during his pastoral visit to the United States! I don't know how he did it; I would be exhausted doing half of what he did during his three city pilgrimage -- visits with the President and Congress, a canonization, a talk at the UN, attending the World Meeting on the Family to name just a few. By all accounts, his visit was hugely successful and well received by the faithful, the media, and the powers that be. Though boycotted by a few, and criticized by some for his comments on immigration, capital punishment, capitalism and climate change as being too political or liberal, most people seemed to have found him to speak with an authentic voice of wisdom, authenticity, compassion, and mercy.

So many people, when asked in interviews about what impressed them, highlighted his humility and simplicity. He seemed approachable and down to earth, demonstrated by his orthopedic black shoes; frayed cuffs, riding in his small Fiat. He preferred lunch at a soup kitchen to the Congressional dining room, and wanted to be with prisoners, those on the "periphery." The media dubbed him "The People's Pope," and we continue to monitor the "Francis effect."

What seems to have impressed people are the very qualities that we claim as our charism, our lifestyle, our gift to the world. St. Francis also went to the lepers, those outside the walls of Assisi, those on the periphery. He saw everything and everyone fraternally, as brother and sister. We carry those charisms in our title, and hopefully in our DNA, for we, too, are to be friars and minors; fraternity and minority are our hallmarks. We are to be brothers to all, living simply and humbly the joy of the Gospel, knowing that our God is all good, the highest good, the supreme good, and that God shares that goodness with us in creation, our "common home."

--Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM
Cincinnati, Ohio