Pope Francis' small steps to lift liberals' hearts
Pope Francis may never ordain a woman, but when change has been a long, long time coming, even small steps (especially if they're taken in plain black shoes) can lift liberal hearts -- not to mention a pope's American popularity. STORY: Pope Francis: Confounding the pundits as an agent of change
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The first Francis
There have been dozens of Johns, Piuses, Benedicts and Clements, but never a Francis. Granted, the Roman Catholic Church has had only 1,000 years or so to get a Pope Francis; Francis of Assisi wasn't born until 1182. And then there's St. Francis' mystical, mendicant bent, his stigmata and his message from God to "rebuild my church," which might have scared away the hierarchy. Francis wasn't even a proper priest; he was a friar.
Above: "Saint Francis" by Master of Sir John Fastolf, about 1430-1440.