“I think he was giving a very clear signal to many countries, including the United States, about its outreach to refugees and all the blocks that are put it,” Rosica said. “He’s not just speaking as Jorge Bergoglio; he’s speaking as the leader of the Catholic Church addressing the world.”
The world has taken notice.
Italian Vanity Fair named him “Man of the Year” this month in a cover story calling him “Pope Courage.” In the article, rock star Elton John called Francis “a miracle of humility in a era of vanity.”
John hasn’t been the only non-Catholic to sing the pope’s praises.
“It’s time to admit it; Pope Francis is kind of Awesome,” Stephen Marche, an atheist, wrote in Esquire Magazine’s website last week.
Pilgrims pack St. Peter’s Square when Francis delivers his Sunday speeches. The crowds are noticeably larger than his predecessor Pope Benedict had been drawing. Twice as large, by some accounts in Rome.
Despite his popularity, Francis continues to live in at Casa Santa Marta, the Vatican hotel, instead of the opulent papal apartment. He prefers to drive through St. Peter’s Square to greet the masses in an open-topped Jeep instead of the bulletproof bubble.
Last week he said that priests shouldn’t drive fancy cars. After his speech, Francis visited the Vatican garage to inspect his own fleet, according to The Associated Press.
During Mass on July 3 at Casa Santa Marta Francis explained why he has been so hands-on, so insistent on greeting the disabled, the poor, the refugee, and the prisoner.
"The body of your wounded brother, because he is hungry, because he is thirsty, because he is naked, because it is humiliated, because he is a slave, because he's in jail, because he is in the hospital. Those are the wounds of Jesus today,” he said.
Setting up charities to solve society’s problems is not enough, he said. Catholics and other believers have to get their hands dirty.
“We need to touch the wounds of Jesus, we must caress the wounds of Jesus, we need to bind the wounds of Jesus with tenderness, we have to kiss the wounds of Jesus, and this literally.”
Big preparations for Brazil
World Youth Day, which will be held in Brazil later this month, has the potential to show the full measure of the new pope’s popularity.
Brazil is home to the world’s largest Catholic population, but in the past 10 years the church has been steadily losing ground to evangelical churches.
Could the first Latin-American pope’s homecoming reverse that longterm trend?
Some 60,000 volunteers have signed up to help for the weeklong pilgrimage the week of July 22, 2013.
Events include an opening Mass on Copacabana beach for pilgrims, Catholic DJs spinning records at a beach festival, and a final Mass that is open to the public at a giant field west of the city.
Benjamin Paz Vernal, director of communications for World Youth Day communications said for the week they have ordered 4 million hosts for Holy Communion.
Paz Vernal said site where the final Mass will be held is 2 1/2 times bigger than that of the last World Youth Day in 2011. At that Mass, Spain’s National Police estimated the crowd was 1.5 million people.
The pope will be busy in Brazil: and it’s a typical itinerary for Francis.
He will visit a drug rehabilitation hospital, a Marian shrine, hear confessions from young inmates, and tour a slum in Rio de Janiero that the Vatican notes was “recently pacified.”
But what everyone will be watching is what is not what on the itinerary from a pope who seems to relish improvisation.
“I’ve utterly given up trying to figure out what he’s going to do,” said the Rev. Paddy Gilger a newly ordained Jesuit priest who runs the website “The Jesuit Post.”
In Francis he sees a pope unafraid to push the boundaries and keep his minders – as well as the media -- on their toes.