I was raised Catholic, although the religion never resonated for me. I’m no longer Catholic or even Christian, even though I think Jesus was a great man. That is, if he existed. Religious scholars seem to disagree on that. Some say there’s historical record and others say there isn’t, pointing out that the Romans documented EVERYTHING and there was no record of any of the miracles, or the crucifixion, or the resurrection.
Even as parables or allegory, the Jesus stories are effective teachers. Too bad more people don’t actually live as he asked us to. Including so-called “Christians.”
But back to the Pope.
I like this guy.
The Papacy became corrupt early, with Popes ordering killings, having mistresses, fathering children and so on. You know, the kinds of sins that go on today. Some of those popes were experts at them.
And then there were the punishing popes. We saw a few in the 20th century. The ones who focused on our sins and gave us heavy lists of “do nots.” The ones who loved their fancy robes and red shoes maybe a bit too much.
Then, in some crazy twist of fate, Pope Francis was elected, a guy who wore orthopedic shoes instead of the traditional fancy red ones. Who took the bus back to his residence with all the cardinals who elected him instead of being chauffered. Who elected not to live in the ornate Papal apartments but in the simpler Vatican guest house.
He’s a man with kind eyes and a kind heart. A humble guy. A man who cares about poor and marginalized people. A man who is outspoken about a broad range of social and environmental issues.
How did he even get elected? Some say a group of cardinals plotted to elect a reformer Pope. If that’s the case, hats off to the cardinals! (Or should I say “mitres off!”) After all, plots have long been a Vatican staple. Why not a plot that actually benefits Catholics? One that puts into office one of the most Christ-like (if not the ONLY Christ-like) popes ever?
Not too long ago, M and I were talking about the criticism this Pope has faced for not doing more to bring the Church into the 21st century. I expressed my surprise that anyone could think that any leader could just snap his fingers and change centuries of religious tradition and strictures.
“Critics like that have clearly never run a huge organization,” M. pointed out, “so they have no idea of what it takes to make shifts of that magnitude.”
I agree. And if you have any doubt, here’s a story about the current intrigue at the Vatican–the disturbance this Pope is causing among conservative Catholics in the Vatican and church leadership. You know, the ones who have been responsible for a lot of the unethical financial shenanigans and who have covered up the many, many molestations. You know. THAT crew. They’re just not happy with the Pope acting in a Christ-like manner. Not at all.
Some say his allowing absolution of the sin of abortion during the Jubilee year is arrogant. No. Not if you’re Catholic. In the Catholic religion, abortion is a sin. The fact that this Holy Father decided to let women be absolved may seem crazy to non-Catholics, but to those who have agonized over their abortions and their faith, it’s huge. HUGE.
Although I’m no longer Catholic, I admire this Pope. He lives the Christian faith in a way Popes haven’t done in a very long time. He cares. And slowly, but surely, he’s chipping away at the old, conservative, elitist structure of the Vatican.
On the eve of his arrival in the United States, I ask: is the Pope still relevant? This Pope is making sure the papacy is in touch with its faithful. Yes, this Pope is relevant, more relevant than any Pope in a very long time.
So, you go, Holy Father! I’m happy you arrived in my lifetime.
And those who actually believe in and live by Christ’s teachings agree.
How about you? Your thoughts?