[Read directly at TheJakartaPost.com.]
by Jennie M. Xue, Singapore
Easter is approaching, a special day for Christians worldwide. It is the day that Jesus Christ was resurrected three days after his crucifixion at the Calvary. Jesus was the ultimate activist, who defended the poor, the sick and the weak. His exemplary leadership has inspired billions of people worldwide for more than 2,000 years.
Today, Christ’s heroic leadership has been the model of Pope Francis’ leadership.
His face was on the covers of Time and Rolling Stone magazines. He was Time’s 2013 Person of the Year. It seemed that Pope Francis has won people’s hearts, regardless of their religious affiliations. He has bridged Christianity with the world.
From the start, this new pope has created splashes with inspiring words about homosexuals, atheists and the others disenfranchised individuals.
He also chose to maintain a modest lifestyle by refusing to be driven around in the papal limousine. Instead he chose a modest sedan as his daily transportation means. He chose to live in a regular guest room instead of in the grand papal apartment.
He chose not to have anti-bullet shield for his visiting vehicle, instead an open one. He continued to be close to the people. He was joyful when meeting people, sitting on a chair of the same level with others. He isn’t scared of death threats or stray bullets.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio was voted the new pope by 115 cardinals at the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican. On the night of March 13, 2013, he chose Francis as his papal name.
Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope, the first pope hailing from outside Europe in 1,200 years, the first pope from the Americas and he is the 266th pontiff. He replaced Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned due to old age and, possibly, other reasons. Pope Benedict XVI was the first pope to have resigned. This makes Pope Francis the first pope to have ever met his predecessor.
Unlike his predecessor, who was more interested in intellectual pursuits, Pope Francis was a down-to-earth and caring priest who defended human rights and has been disseminating messages of humanity, just like the late Saint Francis of Assisi. St. Francis established the men’s Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of Saint Clare and the Third Order of Saint Francis for men and women. St. Francis had a gentle soul that attracted birds to flock around him. Bergoglio chose Francis as his papal name to honor this gentle saint and his commitment to protecting the weak and the poor.
Bergoglio belongs to the Society of Jesus Order, which is known for its four principles that make up the “self leadership” notion: self-awareness, intellectual intelligence and faith (ingenuity), love and compassion and heroism. The Spiritual Exercises are known to have provided an important instrument in coping with various life changes and making decisions.
The Jesuit priests are known for their resilience, adaptability, liberal praxis and militancy. They are spiritual warriors whose ultimate goal is helping humanity whenever needed through intellectual pursuit, activism, publishing, teaching, training and other avenues.
Self-leadership might be a foreign concept. However, it is as simple as leading yourself to lead others. It’s the type of leadership that Pope Francis has been showing and we hope to see in other worlds and local leaders.
The Jesuits have played a “balancing” role, to keep things in check in the Catholic Church. Today, Catholicism has been threatened by alleged priest sex scandals worldwide and alleged Vatican money laundering incidents as leaked by VatiLeaks. The Church is also known for its conservative stance against same-sex marriage and abortion.
So, is Pope Francis going to make major changes? Unlikely. His statement, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” is not an indication that he condones same-sex relationships. He was referring to individuals’ right to exist. This alone is a statement so strong that makes people rethink our own stance toward homosexuals.
Heroic leadership is transformational for it brings new awareness on various overlooked issues, particularly pertaining to humanity. Jesus has died and risen.
Today, we have Pope Francis and other heroic leaders around us who are more than willing to work for the betterment of humanity.
Indonesia needs true heroic leaders.
The Jakarta Post, April 19, 2014