Revelations: Pope of peace, carry on

Jennifer Lee Preyss By Jennifer Lee Preyss

July 11, 2014 at 2:11 a.m.

I am not Catholic.

Never have been. And likely never will be.

Even though - and don't tell the Rev. Dan Morales - there have been a few moments while attending Mass as a guest when I've considered, "This is remarkable and beautiful ... maybe I could be Catholic?"

My Protestant roots are sticking, I'm afraid.

But for the first time in my life, I've developed a real love for the Catholic pope.

I'm fascinated by his journey from humble Argentina. I'm impressed with his eagerness for world peace and making amends.

Every few weeks, it seems Pope Francis is delivering a message or actively seeking out audiences (Catholics or not) to right wrongs, deliver messages of love and forgiveness or offer a gentle smile to a child.

I'm sure right now as you think back on Pope Francis in the news during the last year, you can recall several moments like this that made headlines.

One of my favorite of these occasions was in May, when he extended an invitation to the Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas to visit his apartment in the Vatican in hopes of encouraging peace among the two nations.

A few weeks ago, the leaders accepted the invitation and arrived in the Vatican for a prayer ceremony.

Palestine and Israel have long been in conflict about territory, culture and religion, and it seems every time I turn on the news these days, some disaster or horrific event is happening nearby or in surrounding nations.

The conflict is heated, it's deadly, and it's painful to watch and listen to.

And my heart wants to believe that peace is the ultimate desire of everyone - even if our imperfect human brains and souls don't always choose the best way of seeking it out.

So to see these three men, two of whom have been publicly at odds for so long, hug and greet one another in the Vatican with joy was moving, to say the least.

And for Pope Francis to make a point to put the emphasis on interpersonal contact and prayer at his home (rather than holding a press conference, sending a letter or speaking publicly about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the news) shows that he and his papacy are plugged into leadership.

To me, the pope's willingness to go out of his way to host these leaders demonstrates he understands that peace cannot be reached with words or good intentions.

It takes seeking someone out, inviting them into your personal space, letting your guard down, brewing a pot of tea or coffee and asking, "How was your day?" "How is your family?" "What are your dreams in life?"

If more of us took Pope Francis' lead, peace would be somewhat easier to accomplish among opposing groups in our homes, communities and travels around the world.

Well done and carry on, pope of peace.

This non-Catholic is looking forward to following your journey.

Jennifer Preyss is the faith editor for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach her at 361-580-6535, or on Twitter @jenniferpreyss.



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