Francis continued his seemingly unstoppable momentum as the cool pope this week with an appearance on the cover of Rolling Stone, which came a month after he was named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year.”
The lengthy music mag cover story, in which Pope Francis himself is not actually interviewed, does a good job of covering his background and surprise ascension to the papacy, and is notable for addressing some of the political responses surrounding Francis’s perceived liberalism, such as the reaction among American right-wing Christians to the pope’s distinctly un-Reaganesque economic theories.
It turns out that Francis’s aw-shucks populism obscures a slick political operator who has not hesitated to use his position to sack opponents in the Catholic hierarchy.
His much noted choice of residence — a modest apartment instead of the papal palace — in addition to endearing him to the people, the report noted, is also a way for Francis to set his own schedule and escape the direct “handling” of Vatican bureaucrats and officials, many of whom are members of an entrenched old-guard threatened by the pope’s common touch.
The people continue to adore Pope Francis. Also appearing this week was a graffiti piece on a Vatican wall depicting him as a super-hero, the “Super-Pope.”
The white caped crusader was graffitied Tuesday on a wall just off Borgo Pio, a tiny cobbled street near St. Peter’s Square.
In typical superhero fashion, Francis’s right fist is thrust in the air, leading him in flight, while his left clutches his black satchel. “Valores,” or values in Spanish, is written across it.
The artist is identified only as Maupal. The graffiti was not a sanctioned public artwork, but the Vatican communications office approved the image and tweeted a photo of it.
Pope Francis, who was very close to the Argentine Jewish community when he was known as Cardinal Bergoglio, is scheduled to visit Israel, the West Bank and Jordan over May 24-26. He first visited Israel in 1973, just as the Yom Kippur War broke out.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.