Most of the world knows, now, that the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church has just finished a visit to Canada. He is eighty-four years old, and sometimes he was transported in a wheelchair. I live close to some of the sites that he visited, and I know, the weather was hot.
Apparently, he is now talking about retirement.
So, what would motivate a man in his eighties, to travel to the other side of the world, and speak to huge crowds? The stadium, where he held a mass, holds about sixty thousand, and about fifty thousand attended the mass. The local authorities warned about traffic disruptions on major highways.
The motivation was clear; there is a history of church-run boarding schools for native people, and the Pope now describes that as “genocide.” He traveled to Canada to apologize for something that his church did. He believes his church was wrong.
Can we judge the Pope? Was he wrong? Or was he correct? Was it important for an old man to travel so far, and to meet so many people, in the hottest part of the summer?
The answer is: Yes or no, depending on whom you listen to.
No / Wrong: The Pope didn’t give the critics all that they wanted.
There are critics of the Pope, and of his apology trip, everywhere. The comments that I see are like ‘He didn’t say enough, or go far enough.’ Or ‘He missed something important.’ Almost as if he made a good start, but there was so much more that needed to be done.
This is a common problem with famous people. I’m not famous, but I think I’m right about this.
Everyone wants the microphone. Famous people operate in crowded arenas.
A famous person can draw a crowd, but other people want the attention of that crowd. Sixty thousand is a huge crowd, and when the media learned about the event, they showed up with cameras. That gave a larger audience, in the millions, all around the world.
Imagine if you had a favourite cause, something that the whole world should know about. If a famous person attracted a huge crowd, you could go there, and get in front of the cameras, waving a sign. Possibly, you could leverage the Pope’s visit to promote your own cause and agenda.
Apparently, the protesting truckers were told to stay away from the recent visit. They have something to protest, but the organizers of the Pope’s visit had other priorities. They didn’t want anyone to steal their microphone.
Some other protesters did show up:
Yes / Right: The Pope is a pastor. The pastor’s congregation is about 1.3 billion and he has work to do.
It is easy to believe that a church leader is a decoration, a figurehead who mostly poses for pictures. The reality is, that religious work is hard work.
Any pastor can describe all the work that needs to be done, in a busy church. Successful churches have a team of busy people who get things done. This is not obvious, when we drive past a church building and only see it from the outside.
As a pastor, the Pope saw a need in his church; something that had to be done.
We can disagree and have different ideas, but he is the leader, and he made the decision. An old man in a wheelchair flew to the other side of the world, to apologize.
That act of leadership deserves respect.
“Plan – Do – Check – Act” or equivalent: See a problem – Make a decision – Act. We know that is how things get done, and how leaders lead. That is one secret to success in religion and in leadership. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1: 22)
Probably most of us, including me, can disagree with the Pope, on many issues, but he gave us one good example.
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12: 6 to 8)
Leading is so much more than a photo opportunity: