A new pope, Pope Francis, Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been elected. The white smoke has risen and a new day for Catholics is upon us. Hopefully, a time to get back to the fundamentals, a change back towards simplicity and faith and away from being a business; an entity.
I don’t usually talk about religion on here because my faith is very personal to me. I love all people and respect all faiths, not just my own. I’ve never bad mouthed anyone’s religion. I needed to mark this occasion. This is, after all, my chronicle of our life and is, in most part, written for my daughters to one day read. I want them to know and to remember this. So, if you don’t want to read about my feelings on Pope Francis or how I feel about the Catholic Church, then stop reading. I will not be offended. I don’t want you to be either.
Eight years ago, I had just given birth to my first child. Less than a month later, I remember holding my beautiful new baby in my arms and watching the funeral of Pope John Paul II. It was bittersweet to me. My life was completely changing. At this huge moment in my life, when God was more present than ever before, I lost the only Pope I had ever known. I was sad that my daughter would never know the leader of our church who had made such an impression on so many of us. I was sad that a man who had fought so strongly for our religion was gone and his mission would be ended. I was afraid that with him went the cohesion of our church and that all that was good was left to spoil.
Today, 3 days after that same baby’s 8th birthday, we watched together (along with her sister) as the smoke turned from black to white. We watched history being made. The girls watched along on television at school, as the conclave met. My children attend a Catholic school. We are Catholic. This was a huge day for our religion. As the smoke turned white, I hoped we were on the precipice of change within our church.
The Catholic church has been in a state of floundering for the past few years. There have been bad things happening to the innocent, coverups, financial issues throughout and those who have stayed strong in their faith, well, we have been waiting for some salvation. There has been a lot of recent trials and tribulations to test our faith but we have remained devout. We focus on our faith in God to carry us through when our faith in man seems to be failing us.
I am excited about this new pope. He is the symbol of change in the church. It may not be big, giant leaps and bound changes. I know there is concern that he is opposed to same sex marriage. He is elderly and very committed to his vows. But he represents everything that is good about the catholic religion; he is the embodiment of poverty, humility and reform. He has a great compassion for the poor. He may not take us forward into radical change but he will at least try to get us back to a place of purity before the church was marred by man’s indecencies. He is a good man.
He is the first pope from Latin America, the first to choose Francis as his name and the first priest of the Jesuit order. The Catholic church needs reform, that is evident. Something has to change even if it’s simply getting back to basics, to our very foundation. I am excited to see what our new Pope Francis will do. I found it very telling of what kind of man he is when he chose to listen before he spoke. He is very well respected in the church and he could be the man who unifies all Catholics. This is a historical event on so many levels, not just for Catholics but for all Christians.
Last night, when he was pointed to his elevated seat, he refused and greeted each of his brothers on their level standing. He is humble and a very down to earth man. Pope Francis declined the official papal car for his first journey from the Sistine Chapel, choosing instead to board a bus with cardinals who had just elected him. Later, at dinner, the new pope prompted laughter by responding to their toast with the remark:
“May god forgive you for what you have done.”
He seems like a funny man who is very human. I think, as Catholics, we put the pope on such a high pedal-stool that sometimes we make it impossible for him to connect with us on a human level and I think Pope Francis will not allow that. He will not allow it of us or of himself. He will keep us accountable to God. He will remind us of what we are supposed to be doing when keeping to our faith. He will keep us grounded. This is my hope.
What did make me sick yesterday were all the Pope jokes on social media. Yes, I was very offended and no there is not a stick up my ass. I view all established religions with reverence and not something that I would ever make fun of. It is my belief that people should respect their leaders. I’ve said before, whether you love Obama or you hate him, you owe him the respect of his office. He has earned it and was elected; he is our president and with that comes due respect. I firmly believe that the same is to be done for any religious leader. They have devoted their life to their faith, they have been elected to a position of power and, whether you are of their faith or not, you owe them the respect of their position.
I saw jokes about whether or not the pope would see his shadow. One person even tweeted, Congrats, a new leader of one of the most corrupt, misinterpreted, antiquated systems ever. Tweets calling him a homophobic bigot. The catholic religion is about more than sensationalized headlines. Not every priest is a pedophile and not all of us are antiquated, homophobic, pro-life zealots. Some of us simply believe to live and let live and we pray for the sinner to find their way to God, whatever way that may be. I don’t see how it is appropriate or funny to make fun of a man of God, who has not failed yet.
If you do not understand our religion or the significance of our pope, please just shut up. We don’t need your rude comments or jokes. You are not funny. You are sad and yes, I do take it personally because my faith is very personal to me, as is yours to you. I don’t make fun of your beliefs or lack thereof because it is not my place to do so. I have a reverence for your faith, even if it is not my own.