Thursday, March 14, 2013

We Have A Pope

Sometime yesterday afternoon white smoke appeared in the Vatican indicating that a new Pope had been elected by the Cardinals gathered in their conclave. I know this is not a big deal to many people but to the estimated one billion Catholics in the world, it is a time of joy and for many a time of hope. When I first heard the news I was disappointed because the first things I heard about the new Pope were “arch-conservative” and “age 76”. I couldn’t help but think, “Why did they elect another old man when there are so many issues in the church that need to be addressed”? However, when I got home last night and watched the news I became increasingly impressed the more I heard about this new Pope. First of all, he choose the name Francis after the 12th century saint Francis of Assisi. St. Francis is my favorite saint and holy man. The new Pope is also a Jesuit. For those that don’t know, the Jesuits are a religious community who tend to be intellectuals and social activists. The new Pope is also the first non-European and the first Pope from the America’s. He is from Venezuela in South American. At this time in the history of the Church the most growth is in South America and Africa. The new Pope is also a man who up till now has lived a simple life in a small apartment and who took public transportation to work every day. By all accounts he  appears to be a good and holy man who should not be underestimated even though he is 76 years old.  Pope John XXIII was 77 years old at the time of his election and he turned the Catholic Church upside down with Vatican II.  Time will tell what impact this new Pope will have on the church and the world. As a somewhat disenchanted and wayward Catholic, I am hopeful this new Pope will make a positive mark during his time as leader of the Catholic Church.

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