Explaining our massive “Popecrush”

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here has never been so much love for one Pope. And this isn’t just because he has nine different Twitter accounts that tweet in English and eight other languages. No, there is something about Pope Francis that sets him apart from the previous Popes. Is it his sense of humour? Or maybe his grandfatherly figure? Or maybe even the surprising fact that he used to be a bouncer, or had a girlfriend before becoming a priest?

Maybe it’s all of these things, and so much more.

Elected as the 266th Pope, Francis is an anomaly. Born as Jorge Bergoglio, Pope Francis, the first Pope from the Americas, brought with him a new sense of forgiveness and compassion for the world through his soft smile and teachings. The “Francis Effect” took the world by storm as he addressed tough issues that have long plagued the Catholic Church, moving Catholics to feel more strongly about their faith, inspiring lukewarm Christians and even touching the lives of those who aren’t religious.

So why do so many people have this deep love for the pontiff, even though he refuses to compromise church doctrine for 21st century progression? People think that the Pope is just some guy with a hat and no real leadership role, especially in the secular world. But even though the church has slowly lost its influence over the state, Pope Francis has managed to remain relevant, even becoming incredibly crushworthy for celebrities like Oprah. I would argue that this “Popecrush,” as Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente calls it, is a result of his humility and sense of realness.

Francis defied many of the norms that were set by hundreds of years of tradition and his predecessors.

Described as a “humble man,” Francis defied many of the norms set by hundreds of years of tradition and by his predecessors. In the early days of his papacy, he opted to take public transit, and now drives himself in a donated car. He also declined living in the papal apartments of the Apostolic Palace, opting instead for a suite in the Vatican guest house.

Pope Francis’s decision to live humbly says a lot about his character, and in many ways, greatly corresponds with his choice of the name “Francis,” after St. Francis of Assisi, who was a “lover of the poor.” Francis has become a role model for everyone — faithful or not — to be the best person they can be. And through his leadership by example, he has challenged the world to go out and make a difference.

To me, it’s apparent how the #Popecrush Twitter trend has become so popular. Our collective love for the Pope has taken on a different feel from that of a celebrity crush. The pontiff’s simplicity became his trademark, turning him into a bit of a celebrity in his own right. He has broken the barrier between himself and the rest of the world, making himself more accessible instead of putting himself on a pedestal. And yet, even though the world in turn placed him on a pedestal, he certainly doesn’t let it go to his head. Pope Francis loves what he does and he rolls with it.

So there you have it: Pope Francis is an ordinary guy. He loves soccer and tango, he’s worked real jobs, and he drives used cars. He is as real as it gets, and would probably make the world’s greatest grandfather to boot.

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