Why Pope Francis reminds me of the best nurses I know

He treats everyone equally, regardless of race, class or social status:  He’s non-judgmental and he sees beyond institutional division. Despite being the leader of the Catholic Church, he raised awareness to the catastrophic loss of Muslims in the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. He blew off wealthy, politicians like Boehner and Pelosi to serve lunch to the homeless. Just as nurses need to be able to care for all cultures, races, genders, sexual orientation and socioeconomic classes

He replaces blame with compassion and forgiveness:  He encouraged clergy to forgive women who have had abortions, he apologized for the long standing history of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and provided hope and new thinking for inmates.

He finds time to be mindful in a busy schedule:  He remembers to be fully present with people he comes in direct contact with. Despite a hectic schedule, he was accessible to millions of citizens, shook hands, hugged prisoners and kissed babies – and wasn’t too worried about being tardy for President Obama.

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He remembers his roots: “We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants.”

As the grandchild of four immigrants, I appreciate The Pope bringing awareness to the issues on immigration and the refugees fleeing Syria. How can we as nurses not only welcome our foreign Nurse but also remember our humble beginnings and extend support to new graduates rather than eat our young? 

Despite good intentions, he doesn’t please everyone:  Many conservatives feel he should just say mass and stay out of politics. He reminds us to look at our legislation with ethical eyes. Most of us would rather throw a few bucks in the basket than deal with issues that make us feel uncomfortable. While he recognized Dorothy Day, founder of The Catholic Worker Movement for her social activism during The Great Depression, many were horrified by his controversial canonization of Junipero Serra, which had devastating effects on Native Tribes.

He is not afraid to use his voice:  We need Nurses to speak up on important issues that affect Nursing and patient care. Many of us hold back for fear of retaliation or for being too controversial. I am inspired by The Pope bringing awareness to climate change, income inequality, women’s rights, and all humanitarian efforts. This is the same voice we use as patient advocates.

He exudes kindness and has a sense of humor – and let’s face it, we could all benefit from a lot more kindness infused in all healthcare settings. Click here to see The Pope kiss a baby dressed up as The Pope.  

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