Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Pope Who Rides the Bus

First, the standard disclaimer:  I am not a Catholic.  I am not one of those wonky types who has kept up with the higher ups in my own church (although I can name the Lutheran higher ups), much less the higher ups in other denominations or other religions.

But I am an ecumenical kind of gal.  I do understand that one Christian leader can impact us all.  I would also say the same thing about regular folks, walking our faith one step at a time.  One powerful example can impact us all.  Each day I pray that our impacts, individual and collective, will be for the good, not towards the darkness.

I am not one of those people who downloaded an app so that I could be one of the first to know that the smoke had changed colors.  But my brain still perked up at the news that the bells were tolling in Rome.

A pope from Argentina?  How intriguing!

A pope who has two working class, immigrant parents?  Wonderful!

A pope who cooks his own meals and rides the bus?  Could it get much better?

Well, yes, I guess it could--we could be waking up to a female pope.  I heard a caller on an NPR show mention Joan Chittister, and I thought, yes, that would certainly be a near-perfect choice.

But we are not at that point yet.  I know that the Holy Spirit can move quickly and in surprising ways, but I would have been awed beyond words had a woman emerged as pope.

The first pope from the New World, the first pope from the Global South, the first Jesuit pope.  What an interesting new day dawns!

Don't get me wrong:  I realize that this man is a conservative, as so many men in older age are.  I know that this pope did not embrace Liberation Theology.

But he has been a forceful voice in support of the poor and dispossessed.  That's fine with me.  I understand the problems that many people had with Liberation Theology and its Marxist roots.

I will be interested to see what comes to light as people explore the role that this pope had in the dirty wars of Argentina.  Did he cooperate or did he maintain silence?  If he backed away from the more radical option of speaking truth to dictators, I am understanding.  It is hard to speak in the face of murderous brutality.  The martyrdom of Archbishop Romero shows us what is likely to happen.

I love that the first thing the new pope asked was for our prayers.  Yes, I will pray for him, as I do for all world leaders. 

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