Franciscan values draw many to Pope Francis

Pope Francis addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, making history as the first pontiff to do so. Listening behind the pope are Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Pope Francis has been making headlines all week during his visit to the United States. A theology professor at University of Saint Francis explained this pope’s popularity and connection to people across different walks of life could be connected to his namesake: St. Francis of Assisi.

“It’s unusual how appealing and how popular pope Francis has been,” Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at University of Saint Francis Dr. Lance Richey said. “Pope Francis has really, I think, made it a priority to reach out to people who aren’t in the catholic tradition and to try to create a dialog between Catholics and non-Catholics, Christians and non-Christians, believers and non-believers.”

Dr. Richey also added that what separates this pope is his adoption of the Franciscan tradition.

“Francis lived in the 13th century and he is really unique to the Catholic tradition. He had a special love for poverty, a care for the marginalized, the people living on the edge of society and a very creation centered spirituality – finding God in the natural world,” Dr. Richey explained.

These are the same values Pope Francis encouraged a joint session of Congress to consider in a historic address Thursday in Washington.

“I encourage you to keep in mind those people who are trapped among us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty. … Hunger must be fought on all fronts. … The fault is the creation and distribution of wealth,” Pope Francis said Thursday morning.

He also addressed concerns over the environment, talking about climate change he said, “we need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental change we are undergoing, and its human roots, concerns and affects us all.”

“I think Pope Francis, like St. Francis, 800 years ago, has been able to cross a lot of boundaries and with his personality, with his charisma and a great love for creation and the poor to reach people who may not have a particular connection with the catholic church, per say. That’s his great gift,” Dr. Richey said.

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