I’m sure that practically everyone, regardless of their religion, has been bombarded with news about the new pope, elected yesterday. Even if you’re not Catholic, it’s a pretty big deal. Catholics make up about 1.2 billion of the 6.9 billion people in the world. That’s about 17% of the world’s population. Even if you don’t happen to be Catholic yourself, you probably know quite a few of them.
I’m not particularly showy about it, but I was raised Catholic, went to CCD (which I just discovered stands for “Confraternity of Christian Doctrine”) for all of elementary and middle school, and was confirmed at 13. Even if I’m not the best Catholic out there, and even if there are some things about the Church that I’m not particularly fond of, I still identify as a Catholic and don’t plan on leaving the church anytime soon.
Obviously, I care about the new pope and feel the same mix of nervous anticipation and inexplicable excitement about Pope Francis that I’m sure many Catholics share. Even if he’s supposedly directed by God and the Holy Spirit, every pope has a different way of going about things, and their beliefs and loyalties can change the direction of the Catholic Church. The last two popes, Benedict XVI and John Paul II, were both pretty conservative, favoring tradition. On the other hand, John XXIII was more liberal. He decided to hold Vatican II, which is the reason that mass is no longer said in Latin.
I’m excited about Pope Francis, because he’s a Jesuit, a South American, and the first pope to choose the name “Francis”. For those who aren’t Catholic, Jesuits are an order of priests and brothers that are known for their focus on education (you’ve probably heard of Georgetown, Boston College, etc) and research. Even though the Jesuits haven’t always been particularly popular, they’re known as scholars, and I like that.
I’m pretty much indifferent about the fact that he’s from South America. It’s kind of cool, but location really shouldn’t determine that much about a person. I like the fact that he picked Francis as a name though. I guess he’s cool with being different.
We can’t really tell what’s coming, or what direction things are going to go, but it will certainly be different. No two leaders are the same, and that goes for popes as well as everyone else.