As a shoe lover, I am thoroughly enjoying all the talk going on lately about the pope’s latest choice in footwear. Apparently, the fate of the Church rests not in Pope Francis’ hands, but on his feet. But it doesn’t surprise me. As a society seemingly obsessed with which celebrity is wearing what made by whom, it’s no surprise we hold the ultimate Church celebrity to the same style standards.
While they wouldn’t be my first choice, Pope Francis has decided to stick with his worn-in, resoled, old black shoes for the moment, eschewing the custom-made red slippers his predecessor preferred. I can hear Joan Rivers and the Fashion Police now. But who can blame him? His shoulders are heavy with the many burdens of the Church at the present moment, and he needs all the comfort he can find to keep him trekking for the long haul.
As much as I love shoes, I do not share the same passion for feet. It doesn’t seem to be a problem for Pope Francis, though, who willingly and relatively joyously washed the feet of 12 young men and women in an Italian youth detention center this past Holy Thursday. A humble, simple act that spoke quite loudly. Just like his shoes.
Now, one US diocese is walking in the pope’s footsteps, launching its own footwear campaign. The Diocese of Brooklyn in New York has released a media campaign declaring Jesus as the “original hipster”; its ads posted around the city show a regally robed bottom-half of a man (Jesus) whose dirty red Converse kicks are peeping out from underneath. In a press release from the diocese, the reference is “appropriately suggestive of a major problem in the Church today: that most Catholics see the Church as archaic and not relevant, nor valuable, to their everyday lives.”
But what is relevant to a lot of us? You got it—shoes. And now that the Church is getting more and more people to look down, hopefully it can lead them to look up—way up—soon.
Featured photo: CNS photo/Derek Blair, Reuters