Pope Francis stepped out to greet the world today for some crowd surfing and fist-pumping.
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Breaking with tradition, Pope Francis delivered off-the-cuff remarks about God’s power to forgive instead of reading from a written speech for the first Sunday window appearance of his papacy.
He also spoke only in Italian — beginning with “buon giorno” (Good day) and ending with “buon pranzo” (Have a good lunch) — instead of greeting the faithful in several languages as his last few predecessors had done.
His comments and humor delighted a crowd of more than 150,000 in St. Peter’s Square, drawing cheers and laughter.
But Francis did tweet in English and other languages, saying: “Dear friends, I thank you from my heart and I ask you to continue to pray for me. “
He’s a Tweeter. That should help better attract the youth of today. But the story goes on to note that Pope Francis stepped out for some human contact with those in attendance, some people patted him on the shoulder.
“Francesco! Francesco!” children shouted his name in Italian from the street. As he patted one little boy on the head, he asked “Are you a good boy?” and the child nodded.
“Are you sure?” the pope quipped.
Stop it! This is serious! This is a Pope who comes from the humblest of beginnings, and he’s now the Pope of the Church that spends $170 billion annually in the U.S., mostly on healthcare.
In a post from WaPo:
Catholic institutions themselves employ over 1 million people in the United States. That would make the church one of the nation’s largest employers, behind only Walmart. It employs far more people than General Electric or McDonald’s or GM or the U.S. Postal Service.
A large portion of the church’s revenue comes from donations, though it’s hard to say how much, exactly: “Anecdotal evidence suggests that America’s Catholics give about $10 per week on average. Assuming that one-third attend church regularly, that would put the annual offertory income at around $13 billion.” There’s also income from investments and landholding.
This is big business for such a humble Pope. One million employees. $170 billion spent in America 2010. From a public relations standpoint, the Pope is a hit. I just hope the fame and fortune doesn’t go to his head because there’s nothing more corrupting than a Pope with fat pockets and an entourage of over a billion.