Editor of Catholic daily in Rome shares insights about Pope Francis with Youngstown group


Robert Mickens shared insights about the leader of the Catholic Church in his talk, “Speaking Frankly about Francis,” when First Friday of Greater Youngstown met Thursday at Antone’s Banquet Centre, 8578 Market St.

Mickens, editor-in-chief of Global Pulse, an online independent Catholic daily, has lived in Rome since 1986 when he studied theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

Originally from Toledo, he worked 11 years at Vatican Radio and then another decade as correspondent for The Tablet of London.

Mickens said the most striking part of the pope’s presence is his how “he is at home in his own skin.” Because of that, he has answered sincerely when asked who he is ... “I‘m a sinner,” the pope has replied. He comes across as normal, not so papal.

That’s also evidenced by his choice of residence, not the Papal Apartments in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City, but Suite 201 of Domus Sanctae Marthae, where the conclave is housed. As a cardinal in Argentina, he rode public transportation.

“These actions frustrate some who find him too unpredictable,” Mickens said. The pope takes his meals with Vatican staff and accepts bottles of his favorite energy drink from people in crowds. That interaction and “off-the-cuff” remarks in daily homilies are concerning to his security staff and Vatican hierarchy.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio was ordained a Society of Jesuit priest in 1969 and elevated to cardinal in 2001. Mickens said Pope Francis’ first interview was with Jesuit media. “He was sending the message. ... ‘I am one of you,’” Mickens said. Being a Jesuit, Mickens said, means “he is a man of discernment.”

Read more of his insights in Friday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.

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