If you have been following the news lately (and even if you haven’t), you probable know that Pope Francis, who is the 266th and current Pope of the Catholic Church, has recently visited the United States. Some people are extremely excited about his arrival, while others are indifferent and then some think it’s not necessarily a good thing. However, there’s no denying that Pope Francis’ arrival has definitely caused a wave of excitement, and that his working with President Obama to better the conditions of people across the world could prove to be beneficial for many.
As with any religious leader, it helps to know that the Pope is a “real guy” with human tendencies and interests. Yes, he has a prominent position, but his leadership will likely be more effective when the people who follow him are able to relate to him. Even if you keep up with the Pope’s travels and activities, there may still be some things you don’t know about him. The more interesting he is to the general public, the greater his chances may be of affecting even more change in the world.
12. He Loves To Tango
That’s right. Pope Francis is a fan of the tango. In an interview with El Jesuita authors Sergio Rubin and Francesca Ambrogetti, the Pope stated that he used to dance when he was young. He also said that he “loves tango,” so even though he may not dance anymore, there’s a chance he wouldn’t have a problem with Catholics having a tango at their weddings or birthday celebrations as a way to liven up the party. Catholics are often seen as ultra-conservative, and the leaders of the church often live lives that are nearly void of any type of earthly enjoyment. Perhaps knowing that the Pope can dance give Catholics the sigh of relief they need to loosen up at times.
11. He’s An Art Enthusiast
Pope Francis’ favorite painting is The White Crucifixion, by Marc Chagall. The painting was completed in 1938, and shows Jesus dying on the cross. In the painting, Jesus is wearing a prayer shawl, which signifies that he is Jewish. In the original painting, there is a soldier with a swastika on his armband, burning down a synagogue. The fact that the Pope is so fond of this painting could signify that he wants the church to embrace people from all walks of life. His love for the artwork could also show that he is deeply moved by the Crucifixion scene, which holds a special place in the heart of most Christians.
10. He Has A Favorite Movie
The Pope is fond of the movie Babette’s Feast, which was released in 1987 and directed by Gabriel Axel. The movie is about two beautiful sisters who are reduced to a life of spinsterhood because their father is very strict. The man is also a pastor, and is quite conservative in his views. The film is set in Jutland, and one day, a former suitor of one of the sisters sends a Parisian cook named Babette to become the family’s cook. Babette is so great at what she does that she teaches the family, and the pastor’s congregation, about enjoying what is good and meaningful in life. We’re not surprised that this movie is Pope Francis’ favorite.
9. He’s Very Educated
Obviously, Pope Francis knows a whole lot about the Catholic church. However, he also knows a great deal about chemistry, since he earned a masters in the subject at the University of Buenos Aires. The Pope also attended the Catholic University of Buenos Aires, where he studied philosophy. Before he became the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis was a teacher as well. He taught theology, but he also instructed students in the subjects of philosophy, psychology and literature. His love for learning, along with his love for people, are likely some of the things that have made him such as effective force in Catholicism.
8. He’s A Pretty Modest Man
Pope Francis has had access to the priest’s quarters and a personal chef for quite some time. However, he chose to live in a flat with another priest and prepare his own meals. This is a pretty clear indication that the Pope is not overly concerned with worldly possessions, and is satisfied to live in modest conditions. Pope Francis was also often seen taking taxis and riding the train, instead of being chauffeured everywhere. He has even been known to make conversation with the people on the train, answering their questions and sharing stories of faith and inspiration with them.
7. He Is An Author
Pope Francis co-authored a book entitled Sobre el Cielo y la Tierra, or On Heaven and Earth. The book is a collection of conversations between Pope Francis and his co-author, Argentine rabbi Abraham Skorka. The book covers topics like the 21st century Catholic church, as well as the subjects of family and faith. The two clergy members talk about the ways in which their vocations have shaped their lives. Pope Francis is also quoted in the book as saying that the issue of celibacy in the Catholic church is a “matter of discipline, not of faith. It can change.” Interesting, indeed.
6. He’s a Football Fan
The pope is a proud supporter of the San Lorenzo Football Club. This is his local team, so it’s safe to assume that the athletes derive a certain motivation from knowing they have Pope Francis’ support. The San Lorenzo Football Club was also the first team from Argentina to win the domestic double in 1972. Pope Francis’ love for sports is yet another example to his collective congregation that it’s perfectly fine to have a variety of interests. Physical activity is also part of taking care of one’s “temple” (physical body), which is why it’s not uncommon for leaders in the church to remain physically active, even if they’re not suiting up for the football field.
5. He Speaks Many Languages
If you saw some of the speeches Pope Francis gave at press conferences during his visit to the United States, you likely picked up on the fact that English isn’t his first language. However, the Pope does speak Spanish, German and Italian fluently. In addition to speaking a little English, he also dabbles in Portuguese and French. That’s pretty impressive, seeing as how many of us get confused about how to conjugate certain verbs in our native language. Pope Francis’ knack for languages also indicates that he’s committed to communicating with people from all over the world, which is pretty admirable.
4. He Doesn’t Like To Dress Up
Before Pope Francis became the official Pope of the Catholic Church, he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires. During his time in this position, he was committed to providing a great example for others to follow. One of the ways he went about accomplishing this goal is by wearing modest priest robes, instead of the elaborate ones that were available to him. He wanted to show his parishioners that he was content to focus on the things that are truly important in life, including helping others and displaying good character rather than flashy garments. Pope Francis was Archbishop in Buenos Aires from 1998 to 2013.
3. He Has One Working Lung
When Pope Francis was a teenager, he had a terrible infection, and had to have the majority of his left lung removed. The Associated Press asserts that at the time of the Pope’s sickness, antibiotics that are so readily available now were likely not an option. Dr. John Belperio of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles, states that the infection could have caused an abscess or severe bleeding, which likely led to the lung removal. While this has not compromised his health too severely, medical professionals agree that Pope Francis has to be careful to stay away from areas where the flu is rampant, and is at greater risk for pneumonia than the general population.
2. He Used To Be A Bouncer
When the pope was a student in Buenos Aires, he worked as a bouncer at a bar in the city. Most of us can relate to the fact that college can be pretty expensive (even with scholarships), so we’ve likely had an odd job or two while in school to make ends meet. It’s a little ironic and humorous to think that the man who would grow up to be the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church had to pay his dues as a club bouncer first. Perhaps he learned how to stick to his principles, be determined, and eliminate negativity in his life as a result of being a bouncer. We’re guessing he doesn’t have to use the physical skills the bouncer job required at this point in his career.
1. He Had A Girlfriend
Yes, Pope Francis had a girlfriend. The guy who is not supposed to have a romantic relationship, since his devotion should be to his “flock” (congregation), remembers a time when he had his eye on someone special. He explains to Rubin and Ambrogetti that the young woman was in his tango dancing group. Apparently, the relationship only lasted a short time, since the future Pope broke up with her once he realized his calling. While Pope Francis went on to fulfill his religious mission of becoming the leader of the Catholic church, this brief look into his history indicates that he knows and appreciates the value of romantic love.