Why is the pope’s visit to America a big deal? After all, he’s just an old guy with a fun collection of hats. Why should the layperson care what he says or thinks? As journalist David Gregory notes, the United States is home to one of the largest Catholic populations in the entire world. Just by sheer numbers, Francis’ influence is important. But the real heart of the pope’s appeal is his demeanor and the approach he has taken in running the Catholic Church. Francis seeks to lead by example by practicing humility. It’s this aspect of his character that makes him so inspiring to Gregory and many other Americans.
David Gregory: Well there’s 70 million Catholics in America so whoever the pope is, is incredibly important. I believe this is the fourth most populous Catholic country in the world. So to have the head of the Catholic Church here is just always so significant to people and their faith journey in America within the Catholic Church. I would say that under normal circumstances, I think Pope Francis is extraordinary. I don’t know anybody who is not moved by his example and his spirit and the way he’s leading the church. There are ideological differences with him I suppose in different areas of the spectrum and I’m not wading into church doctrine here, but I love his spirit and I love his example and I love his humility. And I love his voice of conscience in the world. I’m really moved by the practice of washing someone else’s feet, you know. In the gospel is when Jesus washes Peter’s feet and he looks at him almost with kind of horror and trepidation like, you know, "Why are you doing that?"
And Jesus says to him essentially when you learn the importance of doing this you’ll understand why it’s so important. It is an act of humility and to understand that the basis of humanity is serving each other, having compassion for each other and understanding that we’re all in this together. So I love his spirit and I love his intent.