Hope and the church

Dateline: Wed 13 Mar 2013

The election of the new pope is encouraging. Pope Francis, whose lifestyle apparently is as simple and humble as his namesake St. Francis, gives us fresh courage to face our problems.

Born Jorge Mario Bergolio in Buenos Aires, the son of a railway worker, trained as a Jesuit, sensitive to social justice but traditional, the new Pope Francis is a whole lot of different.

This is the first pope from the Americas and the first Jesuit to be named Pope. As the cardinal of Argentina, he chose to live in a small apartment, cook his own meals and ride the bus rather than live in luxury and be serviced by a limo. As a Jesuit, he is trained in the traditions of St. Ignatius of Loyola: be men and women for others. Educate. Improve. Serve. Connect to the common good.

What is always curious to me is the amount of optimism, even joy, in these proceedings...and I don't believe it's all entirely based on the spectacle and sense of mystery, which are great theater and drama. The number of pilgrims who flood St. Peter's Square, the smiling faces, the relief and happiness when the cardinals decide -- why?

After all, the realist says the Catholic church is in a world of hurt: sex abuse, Vatican bureaucracy, women's ordination, secularism in Europe -- the issues just keep on coming.

This dynamic of loyalty despite the odds puzzled me some time ago when I was a member of St. Paul Catholic Church in Greencastle. My children had "fallen away" from the church; Guy was no longer interested in attending weekly Mass (or even monthly Mass). People I love were furious at the sex abuse and, more significantly, at the coverup. 

Still, the pews were always full at St. Paul's. In general, the pews are full at most Catholic churches for weekend Masses, in my experience.


Jeff McCall, who teaches media at DePauw and was a member of St. Paul's, gave me his answer when I asked him a few years back...."The church is like our mother," he said. "And even when our mother does something wrong, we still love her. We forgive our mother."

Forgiveness is a benevolence, but we still need accountability. God speed Pope Francis especially in the latter. 


hendy [Member] said:

Best wishes for Catholics and their friends.

2013-03-14 11:36:49

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