After many years spent in the confines of a Catholic household, followed by many more years of repressing such morals, I can confidently say that I think Pope Francis is a baller. He represents a new age of Christianity that I probably won’t be an active member of, but can admire from a safe distance.
First, a brief timeline: In 2014, the Pope tells a young boy whose pet had just died that sure, dogs can go to heaven. Then, in 2016, he goes against thousands of years of teaching by being cool with gay people. He even tells other Christians that they should apologize to gay people for marginalizing them. And now, he’s told a crowd of 300 young people not to be afraid of tattoos.
Up until now, there’s been no clear teaching on the topic of tattoos in religion. But body modification is generally regarded as amoral—just take the way my dad reacted to me getting a belly button piercing at the very legal age of 18. “Your body is a temple, young lady.” Yeah, a super cute temple with an appropriate amount of bling.
After a Ukrainian student priest from the audience asked in a recent meeting how he should respond to present-day culture, the pope insisted that religious leaders shouldn’t shun tattoos, but embrace them because they can help connect people and communities. He said that they can be a talking point and a way to learn more about someone: “Tattoos often signify membership in a community. ‘You, young man, that you’re tattooed like that, what are you looking for? In this tattoo, which community membership are you expressing?’”