5 Amazing Pope-Francisisms

Pope Francis engages the crowd. — AP Photo

5 Amazing Pope-Francisisms


In this day and age it’s important to be pithy. Even better if you can be memorably pithy. In the era of the 24-hour news cycle, we live off of soundbites, little morsels of goodness that you can chew on a bit but not get too full and bloated.

What a wonderful treat to find that our new pope is the master of the soundbite.

Or maybe you could say he’s the master of the anti-soundbite, because his morsels are actually meaningful; they aren’t cheap fast food. You can sit with one for a good while, thinking about it. When he turns a phrase you want to hang onto it. It makes you want to talk with someone about it. You want to share this appetizer, if you will.

He also puts things in a very contemporary, accessible way. He uses images that are familiar to modern people, making his messages very palatable.

Ok, enough food analogies. Here are 5 of my favorite Pope Francisims so far.

5. Jesus doesn't want "remote controlled" followers

In an address emphasizing the gift of human freedom, Pope Francis warns about the extremes people can fall into: self-absorption on the one side, and over-dependence on the other. Those in the latter category were at risk of being "incapable of creativity". Seeking only to connect with the will of another, they are not truly free.

“Jesus wants neither selfish Christians, who follow their egos and do not speak with God, nor weak Christians, without will, 'remote-controlled,” he said.

“Jesus, in his earthly life, was not, so to speak, 'remote-controlled'. He was the Word made flesh, the son of God made man, and at one point he made a firm decision to go up to Jerusalem for the last time.”

He offered Pope Benedict's decision to step down from the papacy as an example of one who is not remote-controlled.

4. “You are mothers, not old maids.”

In an address to women religious, Pope Francis affirmed their work and encouraged them to contribute to the needs of the world within the mission of the Church. He also remarked about how chastity enables a gift-of-self that should bear spiritual children for the Church.

The consecrated woman is a mother, must be a mother and not a spinster," he said. While the sisters were laughing at his use of a very colloquial Italian word for "spinster" or "old maid," he added: "Forgive me for speaking this way, but the motherhood of consecrated life, its fertility, is important."

3.Go out to the “existential suburbs”

Recalling the pontificate of Paul VI, specifically his great apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Nuntiandi, Pope Francis asked us to ask ourselves whether we are willing to go out to all the parts of our society in announcing Christ, even the most wounded. 

“All of us, we are all responsible for the answers; and we should ask ourselves: Are we really a Church united to Christ, prepared to go out and announce Him to everyone, even, and especially, in what I call the ‘existential suburbs,’ or do we close in on ourselves, in our groups?”

2. The Church doesn’t need “museum-piece Christians”

This one was from a homily about being salt (more food) of the earth and using your particular salt (giving it away to others) to “spice things up” (love it). But the phrase and image of being a museum piece Christian was particularly poignant.

“We can show the salt: this is my salt – and how lovely it is! This is the salt that I received in Baptism, this is what I received in Confirmation, this is what I received in catechesis,” he said. “But look: museum-piece Christians! A salt without flavor, a salt that does nothing.”  

1. Don’t be a “couch-potato Christian”

Similar to #2, but I felt that I had to end on a food reference. In his reflections on St. Paul and the apostolic zeal required of Christians, Pope Francis encourages we Catholics to go out of our comfort zones, annoy people (check). “If we annoy people (with this zeal for Christ), blessed be the Lord.”  

"There are even couch-potato Christians, right? Those who are well-mannered, all perfect, but they don't know how to bring people to the church."

"Today let us ask the Holy Spirit to give this apostolic fervor to all of us and also the grace to be a nuisance to the things that are too quiet in the church" and go to the "outskirts" of life.


So those are some of my favorite Francisisms. You can no doubt think of others. Share one of your favorite Timbits from Pope Francis below (that was the last one...).  

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