Time Magazine, Pope FrancisPope Francis, The Maestro 

Hundreds of thousands of words have been written about Jorge Mario Bergoglio since the Archbishop of Buenos Aires emerged as Pope Francis in March.

The potential of the first Jesuit Pontiff thrilled millions of Catholics, who understood their reeling and insular institution needed a sweeping overhaul, or it would sink into utter irrelevance in today’s society.

Some were concerned that Francis—included yours truly—at age 76 would merely be a caretaker leader to provide some sense of stability following the resignation of the rigid Pope Benedict.

That concern was misplaced as evidenced by the global popularity and support to Francis’ core concern for the poor and distressed.

As a former parish priest, Francis is a far cry from his theological predecessors Benedict and John Paul II, who called for total obedience to the strictures of the Church.

From a PR viewpoint, Francis’ simple message of love for one another, modesty, humility, fairness, social justice and transparency is the perfect positioning for his global institution of 1.2B members.

Francis is not going to budge on hot button issues such as abortion (right to life is a bedrock belief) and women priests. Married priests? Perhaps.

His  “who am I to judge” response to the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica’s question about views of homosexuality was a ground-breaking signal of acceptance of all of God’s children.

Buffoons like Rush Limbaugh have blasted Francis for his attack on the “idolatry of money.”  His ilk depicts the Pope as an anti-capitalist follower of Karl Marx rather than Jesus Christ. That’s baloney.

Francis is just true to the Church’s tenet of helping and encouraging those with the least. Isn’t that the purpose of the Church?

Nancy Gibson, managing editor of Time, put it best in explaining why the Pope is the magazine’s “person of the year.”

She wrote that in less than a year at the helm, Francis “has not changed the words [of the Church], but he’s changed the music.” That new music is an astonishing accomplishment.

Happy Birthday Pope Francis for turning 77 yesterday. May you enjoy many more years of health.

The world needs you.