This is part of a series of posts discussing issues that define the millennial generation. These posts will cover culture, politics, and religion.
By now you are probably tired of me writing about the millennial generation. Well, just hold on for a few more posts, and I think you’ll find this worth your while. In this post I want to talk about one particular religious figure that, I think, captures the attitudes of millennials towards religion. Since I’m a Roman Catholic and this is my blog, I decided to write about the religion that I know best. More importantly, I’ve been watching Pope Francis over the last six months and notice that he’s made some noise. The New Republic in a recent cover story deemed him the Perestroika Pope for changing the conversation, or really starting the conversation on so many issues – especially ones that liberal Catholics, like myself, care about. Actually, I’ll let Chris Hayes explain.
Pope Francis has been a big change from his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI. He’s less professorial, caring about social justice and ministries of the poor, and not as focused on trying to reconcile differences with more conservative factions of the Catholic Church. This is not to say that Benedict was not a good pope. I’m not here to render a judgement on his papacy or initiatives that he took on. Rather, it is worth point out that Francis has used his position of power in a different way.
For a generation that is witnessing a recession and forced to cut back on its own economic needs, seeing shifting generational attitudes on marriage equality and general equality to the LGBT community, and is irritated by bureaucratic nightmares that made the horrors of the sex abuse scandal worse it is good to have a pope that is willing to have more open conversations about how to reform the church in these matters in the hope of bringing more Catholics back to the pews. Certainly taking symbolic action on women (washing women’s feet on Holy Thursday), not judging gay people and allowing gay priests, visiting poorest of the poor, praying for peace, and extending a hand to non-believers is a great start. Of course, symbolism is symbolism and not a policy change but at least he’s trying. Most importantly, millennials want to see a religious leader who is authentic in his disposition. To put it another way, Pope Francis doesn’t just talk the talk he walks the walk.