Amidst all of tumult over Pope Francis' statement that he once removed a rosary from the casket of a fellow priest, this commentator would like to ask: so what? Does this make Pope Francis, who is often referred to as "The People's Pope," any less of a spiritual leader or mentor in the Catholic Church? Does this one act define the character of a man who has devoted his entire life to the service of others? Does this one act in and of itself reflect Pope Francis's heartfelt intentions at the time? Does this one act detract from the integrity of a lifelong bond of friendship that he had with his friend and fellow priest?
Pope Francis stated that he uses the rosary that he took from his friend's casket to comfort him when he struggles with "unworthy thoughts." The three powerful human frailties are greed, jealously and hatred. A pontiff, or pope, must rise above the human temptation to succumb to these three monsters as they arise in the performance of his duties. This would be true especially as the Pope deals with the often over-heated, raging political environment of the Vatican. The lifeless priest from whom he took the rosary had heard confessions from many very high profile leaders in the Catholic Church, including Pope John Paul II. It is mind boggling just to try to contemplate the secrets that are embedded in that rosary.
If anything, Pope Francis' removal of the rosary from his friend's casket was more an act of faith than anything else. It was an act of faith that the grace, mercy, and wisdom exemplified by this rosary for his friend would be bestowed upon him as well as he helps others and hears their confession. Most likely this is what Pope Francis meant when he said, "Give me half your mercy" as he took the rosary. (ABC News, on March 6.)
Finally, it is important to remember that Pope Francis knew his friend and knew his friend's heart when he took the rosary from his casket. Most likely he knew that his friend would have wanted him to take it so that his work would be continued on this earth in his absence, and the miracles would continue to occur. If that was his frame of mind when he took the rosary, then it would have been an abomination for him not to take it. The Pope's friend lives on in this rosary and the Pope is able to make the world a bit more blessed place as prays with it. The rosary gives great comfort to a modern pope in a troubled, tumultuous world that is always on the verge of war. The world is a better place that this rosary is still being utilized today in our very troubled world.