When Most Reverend David Zubik, Bishop of Pittsburgh, came to Carlow University on Wednesday, April 10, for a town hall meeting with students, he was fulfilling two of his favorite duties as the head of the Pittsburgh Diocese.
“What I really like to do best is mingle with the people in the diocese,” says Zubik. “Often young people aren’t invited to be involved in the church, so I wanted to do these town hall meetings.”
Zubik, a native Pittsburgher who grew up in Ambridge, hosts town hall meetings at the three Pittsburgh Catholic universities—Carlow, Duquesne University, and La Roche College—that begin with him decribing his personal background followed by a question and answer session. “One of the greatest gold mines we have in Pittsburgh is an abundance of young people,” says Zubik.
With that start, it’s fitting that the Bishop was asked several times about the new Pope.
“He’s going to impact all of us by asking us tough questions,” says Zubik. “He’ll get responses because he talks the talk and walks the walk. If he’s going to be there for people in need, we’ll need to be there for people in need.”
As Zubik put it, in a “wonderful, Christ-like style” Pope Francis is intermingling with the people of the Roman Catholic Church. He asked the Cardinals to stand with him instead of bowing to his feet. He bowed his head during his first blessing and asked for the people in Saint Peter’s Square to bless him before he gave them their blessing. He’s washed the feet of AIDS patients and has even retired the bullet-proof Popemobile so he can easily bless babies and toddlers and shake the hands of the thousands of pilgrims who flock to the Vatican.
Because of his new style, people have been expressing their excitement for Pope Francis to Bishop Zubik.
“I’ve got a lot of letters and phone calls from non-Catholics, non-Christians, and non-believers that are excited for what Pope Francis will do,” says Zubik.
Zubik even delved into the security of the Pope due to his desire to be among the people.
“If you’re living in fear all the time, nothing’s going to happen,” he says. “He feels the conviction to rub shoulders and make connections, all for the interest of bringing people to Jesus Christ.”
Because of the person Pope Francis is, his power, not only as the Pope, to call believers to help the less fortunate, is great.
“He’s calling us, not only collectively as Catholics or the world,” says Zubik. “His own person is calling us to help those with less than us.”