In the Mix

March 13, 2013

Habemus Papa

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Written for: Communicado Magazine
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We have a new Pope! Pope Francis has been elected to succeed Pope Benedict and this is being reported as unprecedented. I don’t know that we should make as much of the fact that a sitting Pope hasn’t resigned in centuries as much as we should be making a big deal about this being the first Pope from Latin America.

A couple of things strike me…

First, the Catholic Church has to get out of the middle ages. Nothing new there. I get that they have to be loyal to the principles of the faith, but, making progress in the faith is inevitable for survival. There are so many issues for which they are just faltering and here’s another one. Do you really have to wait for a pope to die to install a new one? Okay, here’s me going out on a limb as well…

The Catholic Church is an organization. It’s a business. We’ll refer to the business side of it as, the Church. It needs certain, progressive leadership to move forward. Pope Benedict was not a leader. I could see that from the moment he was installed. He has this unsure look in his eyes that’s clear – leadership escapes him. This is no disrespect to him as a man of the cloth. This is a business call.

It just didn’t appear that he had the confidence to interpret his role as pope in a way that combined the tenets of the faith with natural human sense as opposed to reading a script and following it mechanically. Pope Francis appears to get that and be attempting to make it happen.

Second, a Latin American pope. Odd part is that he was born and raised in Argentina to Italian parents. Now, it would have been great if he was an ethnic Argentinian, but, we can’t be greedy, now can we. The international community has an African American U.S. President and a woman as German Chancellor. Quota filled, right? 🙂 Now we just need a gay prime minister in England and we will have made the rounds. So this is my joke…

It’s 2013. Being a white male is so over and if the most recent U.S. Presidential election and the problems the U.S. Republican party are facing aren’t clear evidence, I don’t know what is. A black African was being considered for Pope as was a Filipino. While I still think the Catholic Church is not ready for that, at least it appears that they are inching their way there.

This most recent papal installation is a perfect example of the progress they can make. If they can consider diversity in the mix for pope, they can consider other options in relation to their faith. That starts with acknowledgment…

The world is diverse and so are the Catholic faithful. Instead of spending time talking about all of the things they’re against, why not talk more about the things they’re for like racial equality? Last time I checked, the Church liked all Catholics no matter what color. It’s women they can’t acknowledge… 🙂

And last, to the criticisms. Pope Francis chose a name without historical relevance to the papacy. It has historical reference to good will and charity, but, not the papacy. We the people like that even if the Church doesn’t. Saint Francis of Assisi was actually never ordained a priest by the Catholic Church – he was only a friar and a preacher. But, his work is now well regarded and fully acknowledged. So where’s the problem?

Pope Francis has chosen to be amongst the people; He went to the bank to do his own banking… He’s chosen to live in the Vatican guesthouse, not the papal residence… He walks through the crowds and is intent to bless and help the disadvantaged. That sounds like untainted faith and service to me… I just didn’t see that with Pope Benedict.

The world needs a pope who allows no celebrity in his role. It’s somewhat inherent in the position, but, a man of substance, confidence and humility will know how to keep the focus on service and faith. Pope Francis’ modest approach is appealing to me as well as the masses. It’s not gonna make me wanna be Catholic, but, at least they’re heading toward earning our respect…