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L'Italo-Americano THURSDAY, MARCH 20, 2014 www.italoamericano.com 2 Roman Catholic Church. Starting from the unconven- tional choice of his papal name - inspired by the Italian Saint Francis of Assisi - he has also given up the papal apartments to live in a guest house, drives a regular car instead of using the limousine, and is known for slip- ping out at night to go feed the homeless and poor. At the age of 77, Jorge Mario Bergoglio is breaking the mold. And his spontaneity, compas- sion, and push for modernization have quickly earned him the trust of Catholics, while raising the expectations of the world on the outcomes of his pontificate. This in itself represents a signifi- cant and positive development, considering the widespread dis- affection from a Church that, prior to Bergoglio's election, was perceived as too conserva- tive and narrow-minded. In contrast, the Argentinean Pope of Italian descent - both of his parents were of Italian origin - won many people's heart from the very beginning. Without intruding upon their lives, he involves them in the life and mission of the Roman Catholic Church in contemporary society. The position of the Vatican on key issues such as marriage and abortion necessarily remains consistent, and some burning questions like priests charged with child abuse are still unre- solved. Nevertheless, he believes that "The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful. It needs nearness, proximity. Then we can talk about every- thing else." Pope Francis' preaching and attitude show that spiritual life should go hand in hand with social life and com- mitment. Ordinarily inclined to be around others and to engage with Church-goers, non-believ- ers, and people of different faiths alike, in this significant moment of his career Pope Francis has decided to remain alone – surrounded only by a few cardinals and bishops – and silent. To the countless mes- sages of best wishes, including one from President of Italy Giorgio Napolitano, he replied with a few words in a Tweet sent out to millions of followers on Thursday, March 13, 2014. It simply read: "Pray for me". Despite his increasing popular- ity however, Pope Francis firmly refuses to be considered a super- man, as he clearly stated in a recent interview: "I am a normal person, who laughs, cries, and has friends like everybody else." Perhaps this is exactly what makes him special. Perhaps nowadays the faithful worldwide are in need of a righteous exam- ple, a spiritual guide to give them solace and hope for the future. Pope Francis marked his first year of papacy, but don't call him Superman Pope Francis kisses a child during his general audience at the Vatican Continued from page 1 Continued from page 1

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