When hundreds of thousands of people gathered at the Vatican on Tuesday to hear Pope Francis give his first Mass as the head of the Catholic Church, they might have been just as well served by staying home and taking the lesson from the 1980’s film Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
Be excellent to each other.
That was the message, in essence, of Pope Francis, the humble new leader of 1.2 billion Catholics across the world, and a new reasonable voice in a world beset by accusatory finger pointing, divisive politics and vicious hyperbole.
In his inaugural Mass on Tuesday, Pope Francis gave a down-to-earth speech with a common sense approach to the world. It should ring in the ears of not just Catholics but everyone and anyone.
The Associated Press reports that Francis called for people to respect and appreciate one another, look out for those who need help and reach out to those who need guidance. Also, be excellent to each other.
“Today amid so much darkness we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others,” Francis said. “To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope, it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds.”
Let’s pause here for a moment, because there will be some who will take this opportunity to rail against the injustices and failings of organized religion. It should also be pointed out that Francis doesn’t have a clear track record — it took mere moments after Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elevated pope for old accusations that he failed to stand up to Argentina’s military dictatorship in the 1970s to resurface.
With that in mind, there is no reason not to find value in Francis’ words and vision. This humble, simple mission he has laid out for his 1.2 billion followers should be echoed by leaders everywhere. Because he is right, there is so much darkness.
Consider Canada, where we are comparably very lucky but still have political opponents who rail against one another with vicious words, with year-round attack ads and smarmy, derisive retorts on a daily basis.
Consider the effect of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, merely as one example, beginning his next election victory speech with Francis’ message and then following it up with actual action. Not just politicians, though. Other church leaders, union heads, company executives, garbage men and news bloggers.
[ More Brew: Will Pope Francis be a progressive force in Catholic Church? ]
What would happen if every act every person took was predicated first and foremost on benefiting society, of benefiting one another? That may be a bit too much to expect. What if everyone did it once a day? Or at least promised to take Francis’ words to heart.
The good news is with live television broadcasts and the Internet, social media and word of mouth, Francis’ installation Mass likely a larger audience than any in Earth’s history.
So the words are out there. Let’s consider them. And party on, dudes.