Pope Francis' unorthodox actions—washing the feet of women and Muslims, extending an olive branch to atheists, and so on—have drawn worldwide attention, with some wondering if he's the most liberal pope ever. Kirsten Powers at USA Today sees it a different way: "Yep, Pope Francis is a Christian," she writes. His now-famous statement seemingly accepting gay priests—"Who am I to judge?" he mused—was "the most Christian of things" to say, an expression of love and humility. So why was everyone surprised?
Maybe it's because the public has witnessed an endless string of judgmental comments about gay people from mainstream Christian leaders. Pope Benedict said homosexuality was "ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil," Cardinal Timothy Dolan compared same-sex marriage to incestuous marriage, and Family Research Council darling Ron Balty called gay people "beyond sick." The list goes on. "Perhaps people would be less surprised by seeing a Christian in public life emulating Jesus," Powers muses, "if it weren't such a rarity." Click for her full column.