Beeson Divinity School dean reacts to Pope Francis - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Beeson Divinity School dean reacts to Pope Francis

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BIRMINGHAM - AL -

His title has changed, but Pope Francis has not.

The new leader of the Catholic Church already has made an impression on people outside the faith because of his humility and his work with the poor.

This first positive impression of the Pope goes beyond the Catholic faith.

A Southern Baptist theologian in Birmingham is praising the selection of Pope Francis.

Dr. Timothy George, head of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University, says the Catholic Church may find itself returning to the roots of Christianity.


"(Pope) Francis, I think, reaches back into a deeper layer of the Catholic and Christian tradition," says George. "He's not into ostentatious display and insignias of glory and power. He really is, I think, the authentic thing. The real, deep Christian, pious, Godly person, and comes across the way."

George has spent years studying the Catholic faith,
learning more about its history, and the history of the church leaders...
He says, the new pontiff can take a page from his predecessors during his pontificate.

"by his example, I think he's going to bring together those two streams -- with john Paul ii being the world revolutionary , benedict 16th as the great thinker, the theologian, with the wonderful legacy of Francis of Assisi,and in that way it's an inspired choice for all of us"

George says while the Pope is the leader of the Catholic Church, he has a larger role on a world scale, in the name of diplomacy.

"He also is the head of state of Vatican City, which is an independent country. The smallest country in the world. But as such he is in touch with diplomacy all over the world," explains George.

While George is a Baptist, he says Christians and Catholics share a connection with common issues facing their individual faiths. Issues which he expects Pope Francis to deal with during his papacy.

"We have strong differences in doctrine, theology, and liturgy that separate us one from another. But when it comes to these fundamental issues of human rights, of dignity, of freedom of religion, we stand together and we must stand together in a common and allied cause," George says.

Ultimately, Dr. George says he expects Pope Francis to bring about the "new evangelization" of the church, much like his namesake.

"That was another emphasis of Saint Francis of Assisi. He wanted to share the "Good News" of Jesus with everybody in the world. And I think that same spirit permeates Pope Francis. And we look forward to seeing what will happen under his time as the leader of the Catholic Church and one of the great leaders of the Christian world."

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