A large ballon is seen as Pope Francis greets the crowd during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican June 13. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Speaking out: Pope’s actions speak louder than his words

By  Vincent Pham, Speaking Out
  • June 12, 2018

I was surprised at how well Wim Wenders summarized the first five years of Pope Francis’  pontificate in his latest documentary, Pope Francis: A Man of His Word. In the end, it truly deepened my admiration for Pope Francis. 

Throughout the film, Pope Francis is frequently compared to St. Francis of Assisi, his papal namesake, whose example of a simple lifestyle is reflected in the Pope’s own life.

Pope Francis’ simplicity has captured me since his election to the papacy in 2013. The film makes reference to this, pointing out that during his papal visit to the United States in 2015, the Pope was driven to his many events in a small black Fiat rather than a fancy limousine. 

The documentary also discusses Pope Francis’ views on the role of women in society. He said the integration of women in the Church’s life is important and that advances in society cannot be made without them. This point has been highlighted by the Pope’s appointments of women in roles in the Roman Curia and various pontifical congregations. 

I have seen many papal events live-streamed through the Vatican News. I see people screaming in joy and from time to time, the Pope would kiss a child. However, watching the documentary, I realized the importance of Pope Francis’ presence, especially in areas affected by pain and terror. 

The documentary showed moving moments of Pope Francis off the island of Lampedusa in the Mediterranean Sea, where many refugees drowned while striving to find freedom. In another scene, Pope Francis was at a prayer service at the Jerusalem Holocaust Memorial. 

The documentary also reminded viewers of his 2015 visit to the site of the World Trade Center 9/11 memorial in New York. His words and presence bring comfort to the suffering and unites people together in prayer and solidarity. 

Scattered throughout the documentary are clips of Pope Francis talking to the audience. I really liked this, given that most people viewing the film may never get to meet Pope Francis in person. It is as if he were speaking directly to those in the theatre. 

Pope Francis, who advocates that the Church be a “Church for the poor,” emphasized three “T’s” in one of the interactive clips — “Trabajo (work), tierra (earth) and techo (roof).” He called these basic rights which all people should be able to access.

The images of Pope Francis presented in Pope Francis: A Man of His Word captures the essence of his pontificate: a person of justice, simplicity and advocate for a Church of mercy, a Church for the poor. More than just saying these things, Pope Francis acts upon his words. 

Watching this documentary only convinced me more that Pope Francis’ actions are the strongest messages he can give to the world, and those actions make me admire this pontiff even more. 

(Pham, 17, is a Grade 11 student at Chaminade College School in Toronto.)

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