Students praise Francis’ stance on inclusiveness

For some people, Pope Francis’ recent visit to the United States was as a deeply spiritual experience. Others regarded it as a chance to be a part of history, and then there were those who saw it as a business opportunity.

For three NYU students who watched the Pope’s visit from Washington Square, the significance that they attached to Francis’ visit also differs, largely due to their divergent faiths. However, the students all praise the Pope’s message of acceptance and inclusiveness.

For Fatima Sheikh, a 21-year-old Muslim and president of the Muslim-Christian Dialogue at New York University, Francis is a leader who can inspire others to carry out acts of humanity, irrespective of their beliefs. Sheikh believes that the messages that Francis preaches are rooted in peace and kindness. “When you see a figure like Pope Francis who stops to say hello to a kid who has cerebral palsy, or hugs a girl who runs past security, of course you’re going to feel something. He represents a part of humanity that we haven’t seen in so long.”

For Megan Montgomery, a 19-year-old Lutheran Christian and a member of the Multifaith Advisory Council at NYU, her respect for Francis is rooted in his role as a “man of God.” Like Sheikh, she also highlights his inclusiveness and believes that he has become especially popular among young people largely as a result of his “who am I to judge” statement about gay priests. That attitude, Montgomery said, is one that younger members of her church community grew up with. Francis’ accepting stance makes him an attractive figure to young people, she believes, and in turn may get them to think about the role that worship and religion can play in their lives, especially for those who may be questioning its relevance and value.

For a 27-year-old Mexican graduate student living in New York, Pope Francis represents hope to achieve a more open and welcoming Catholic community. While conservative Catholics have frowned upon some of Francis’ so-called liberal stances, she believes that by suggesting a more inclusive approach on issues such as divorce, he is living the principles of what Catholicism actually dictates.

All shared the hopes that his message of acceptance and inclusiveness will continue to resonate with people long after the hype of his US visit dies down.

About author

Anisa Purbasari
Anisa Purbasari 3 posts

I'm a journalist based in New York currently completing my MA in Magazine Journalism at NYU. Before entering the journalism world, I was a lawyer in the technology, media and telecommunications sector. I am a native of Indonesia and New Zealand with an obsession for food, health, fitness, travel, business and all things media and internet related. When I'm not reporting, you can find me attempting to run along the East River or getting lost in a random New York neighborhood (probably with a big cup of coffee). You can find out more about me at

You might also like

Pope's Visit 2015

Multi-Faith Festival Echoes Pope’s Message on Climate Change

Pandemonium welcomed Pope Francis to New York. But while the masses braced themselves to join hordes of onlookers on city streets in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the

Pope's Visit 2015

The public’s reaction to Pope Francis in New York

Pope Francis is undeniably a Bishop of modern times in some respects, with Twitter hashtags, BuzzFeed quizzes, and even Snapchat stickers, all marking his arrival to the US. It seems

Pope's Visit 2015

Conservative and liberal Catholics gather for Papal visit in New York City

Pope Francis visit to the US sent thousands of people to the streets–Catholics and non-Catholics, believers and skeptics of religion alike— hoping to catch a glimpse of him in between