My folks raised me in the Roman Catholic church, and until I turned 22, reaching what George Carlin called “The Age of Reason”, I was practicing the sect with slowly diminishing enthusiasm. When I finally walked away, it was in full awareness of Catholicism’s less-than-stellar history, which included some of the recent popes.
            When my brother was overseas n 1959, he visited the Vatican. He wrote home to tell us that he believed there was enough gold and silver and other treasures stored there to easily feed the poor of the world. My reasons for ceasing to be a Catholic are many, and permanent, but include this illumination.
            But here comes this new guy, named for the only saint in the Catholic canon that I ever liked, Francis of Assisi. Francis foreswore his noble birth and life of privilege to live a life of poverty in tune with nature. Having been a successful soldier, he adopted a life of peace. This new pope appears to similarly be a man of humility, austerity and peacefulness. His stated priority is ‘The Hierarchy of Truth’ as opposed to rigid church doctrine. I am in tune with that, as I do not live by doctrine either.
            He wants the church to be responsive, adaptive, and more centered on people in need. This is the thing that most, if not all religions, profess to be about. He decries the universal lust for wealth and power. In his acceptance of gay parishioners, he opens the doors of acceptance to all believers. In doing this, he runs up against all the conservative nut cases that Catholicism fosters. Who knows? He may even become a target for one of those rabid crazies. Attempts have been made on a pope before, and he is vulnerable as he rides around in a Ford Focus, the kind of car I seek to own.
            Even in all that, however, he has not relented on the abortion issue, the albatross that’s locked around the Catholic throat. Perhaps he realizes the time is not yet. That’s what I’d like to think, because abortion is a doctrinal issue. Barring women from the priesthood, however, seems to be senseless, lacking biblical justification.
            Nonetheless, and not withstanding my complete lack of religious devotion, (I won’t be running back to Catholicism or Christianity any time soon,) this new guy will be interesting to pay attention to, in the future.