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November 9, 2015

Pope Francis is affectionately called the People’s Pope by both Catholic and non-Catholic alike. Stories abound of how, as a parish priest, he lived an austere life.

This is a shepherd who guides his flock while walking in the shoes of Every Man, Every Woman, Every Child. He walks into the villa miseria, Argentina’s notorious slums, to see his lost sheep. Francis went there because that is where his people are. Yet the danger is so great with hardened criminals and drug lords living there, even the police give the threatening shanties a pass.

Now as pope, Francis shatters the nerves of security officers as he plunges into crowds, steps out of a motorcade at the sight of a person with disabilities, asks that he visit a prison while visiting the United States. He is equally at home with the black tie crowd, his eyes seeing into their brokenness.

Only fools see this compassion as weakness. This is a servant of God whose strength comes from the faith that is woven within every fibre of his body.

Pope Francis came into our lives at a time of change, a time when many are struggling. While we instantly witness the tragedies of the world through social media, Francis tells us it is our duty to help. He walks his talk, saying the Vatican shall take in two Syrian families.

He does the same thing for the environment, speaking up for Mother Earth, showing us how we, the planet and all that dwell on and in it, are one.

His synod on the family uncovered wide divisions amongst the bishops. He understood, saying “What seems normal for a bishop on one continent can seem strange – almost a scandal to a bishop on another.”

Change, even good change, can upset. Rumours abound about intrigue within the Vatican as those resisting the opening of church doors to the fallen away and denied, the scrutiny of the Vatican Bank, rebel.

At press time the Vatican had arrested Rev. Lucio Angel Vallejo, the Vatican’s Prefecture for Economic Affairs, and Francesca Chaouqui, a commission member of the pope’s initiative to reform the Holy See’s finances, for leaks of confidential documents.

That, plus the news of two upcoming books about alleged conspiracies by the clerical old guard to undermine Pope Francis’s reform efforts, gives pause to the world’s Catholics.

Can one ever doubt that it was the Holy Spirit’s presence during the conclave? God placed this holy servant, a holy servant who took the name of St. Francis and all that that promises, as shepherd to his diminishing flock.

Yes, politics are everywhere.

But to set out to stand in way of the this brave, compassionate shepherd’s path to reform the Church, change according to society’s needs while still maintaining the tenets that make Catholicism the spiritual strength and joy that it is, is evil.

The grasping for power not only breaks Vatican law, it breaks God’s law. Pope Francis is appointed by the Creator to do his will. Those who do Francis harm in any way deny the will of God.

As Francis asks everyone he meets, pray for Pope Francis.