I was raised as a Catholic and having received all the available sacraments less the Holy Orders and Last Rites, I am the textbook example of a non-practicing Catholic. My reasons for not belonging to the Roman Catholic Church as an adult are many. The most obvious being the imperfect hierarchy that doesn’t allow for married priests and continues to minimize women. The fact that they have totally botched the handling the sex abuse cases and the prohibition of contraception (which only exacerbates the poverty they claim to be so invested in eliminating) rounds out the reasons I cant be part of that club. There are a lot of people that feel the same ways about the problems of the church but the magic of the mass and the sacraments mitigates the political failings of the church. I guess I never bought into the magic.
But I have to say that despite being only a cultural Catholic at this point in my life, I was more than a little bit intrigued by the Pope Election 2013. I listen to a lot of radio as I am in my car A LOT. Whether it was BBC, MSNBC or the aptly named program “Holy Smoke” on the Catholic Channel, the wall to wall news coverage of the conclave was odd to me. The selecting of the pope really only directly affects 17% of the world but it was monopolizing the air waves in a serious way and I kind of was digging it. The selection was violence and suffering free, unlike much of the recent headlines. It was all very mysterious and we could only speculate what was going on behind close doors. So while intriguing, there wasn’t any real news to report, there was no real information to base a story on so the news was mostly Pope fun facts and trivia. The most interesting thing I learned this week was that the chemical smoke canisters that are added to the paper ballots and notes for the fire after the voting are made by a chemistry inclined nerdy Cardinal from Italy.
Things got more interesting and even more mysterious when it was announced that Cardinal Bergolio of Buenos Aires was chosen as Francis I (badass name, totally approve). But the dude is 76 years old and has one lung…I dont think this is the reformer, or the charismatic communicator that was going to clean up and grow the church. As cool as his name may be, I dont think the Cardinals were investing in the future. Pope Francis seems more like a placeholder, until they figure out how the church is going to inevitably change for the future.
As to the new Pope, there is something endearing about his simplicity and his uncomfortableness with all the pomp and circumstance. I am willing to give him a pass on whatever complicity he may have had in the horrors of the Dirty War. The truth seems to indicate he was having to give the military something in order to save others..es muy complicado..as they say in Buenos Aires. I guess my biggest beef with the dude is that he doesn’t appear to know how to smile!
Good luck Pope Francis, I would love to be surprised.