THE MOMENT “Habemus Papam” was announced at the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to declare Francis as the new Pope, he has been in the center of the media spotlight.

In fact, it seems that the media love the new Pope so much that they sometimes put his statements out of context and misinterpret his messages, often describing Pope Francis as a liberal who might even change Church doctrines.

Huffington Post, an American online news outlet, once even hinted that the Pope said atheists would go to heaven as long as they did good. Meanwhile in the Philippines, media network ABS-CBN released t-shirts for sale containing quotations wrongly attributed to the Pope such as “No race, no religion” and “Ganito ako, ganyan ka. Who am I to judge?” The shirts were pulled out after the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines warned the public about the misleading message.

Such is the tendency of people to look at His Holiness as progressive, that when a “Vatican III hoax”—where Francis allegedly said the Church is big enough for pro-life and pro-choice, and welcomed women to be ordained priests, among others—spread online on December 2013, many unhesitatingly believed the news.

But it’s not difficult to see that the Pope is one-of-a-kind. I have yet to see a comment against the Pope in social media. If there are any, they are surely outnumbered by the millions he has inspired. He left the world in awe when he prayed in Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, facing Mecca, on November 2014 after calling for an inter-religious dialogue to end Islamist extremism. The Catholic Church itself did not escape His Holiness as he reprimanded the Roman Curia during his Christmas message last year. Finally, his simple lifestyle is enough to touch lives, non-Catholics included.

To accept that Pope Francis is bound to revolutionize the Catholic Church is not just easy, but also naïve and escapist as we try to shake ourselves off the old teachings of Jesus Christ that supposedly tether us from freely wallowing in our sins and vices.

In an era of widespread relativism, we really need a Pope to keep up with modernity and perhaps that is what the media are trying to turn the Pontiff into. But it does not always have to be a Pope willing to flip the Church dogma to fit the worldliness of our time. In fact, there is nothing new with the teachings of Pope Francis if one looks closely. His ways of simplicity and humility are basic Catholicism. The only difference is that with Francis as Pope, the Church is never on a pedestal but within arm’s reach of the faithful. With or without the media hype, the Pope will be as celebrated as he is now because of his humility.

As the Pontiff sets foot in the Philippines for a five-day apostolic and state visit, the media is all eyes and ears on every update on this historical event. It is not the extensive media coverage, however, that makes Filipinos want to see Pope Francis: it is the opportunity to be in the presence not only of His Holiness who has become an example for us Catholics, but also God who he serves, and who we should celebrate above all. Gena Myrtle P. Tere


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