The world was surprised when a 76-year-old Jesuit cardinal from Buenos Aires was elected pope, the chief shepherd of more than 1.2 billion Roman Catholics ["A promising start for Pope Francis," Opinion, March 20].

Since taking the name of Francis, this unassuming religious leader has made it clear that his shepherding is going to be different. Francis of Assisi gave up wealth and power to live simply, and respected the Earth and God's creatures.

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On Holy Thursday, instead of celebrating the liturgy in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis presided over a youth prison in Rome. Most important, he leads by example.

Hopefully, the cardinals, bishops and priests in the United States are watching. Would it not be a wonderful gesture of solidarity if they lived simply among their people, and exchanged crimson cassocks for simple black, in solidarity with Pope Francis?

The Rev. Francis Pizzarelli, Port Jefferson

Editor's note: The writer is the founder of Hope House Ministries, which helps homeless teens and young adults.