Thursday, 14 March 2013

Viva Pope Francis

Whether we consider him to be our spiritual father or not, a good Pope is a victory for all.

Announcement of the election of Pope Francis didn’t come to me via white smoke, but courtesy of a mass text message from a friend who wrote, "Viva Pope Francis!"

In characteristic Millennial fashion, I immediately turned to Twitter to tell me what I should think about the world’s new Pope. Just five minutes after his name had been announced, my Twitter feed was filled with a torrent of conflicting viewpoints. My Latino-Catholic friends were joyful that one of their own had been elected. My racial justice friends were disappointed that he isn’t non-European enough for their liking. My non-Catholic friends expressed hope that Pope Francis would take on more interfaith initiatives just as his namesake, Saint Francis of Assisi, had done. My progressive friends were upset that the Pope opposes gay marriage (really, is this a surprise?). My Lionel Messi-obsessed friends were rejoicing that this undoubtedly would be a good year for Argentina since clearly the Pope’s election was God’s way of signaling that He is on their side. 

Annoyed by the fact that Twitter was not giving me a more straightforward assessment, I decided to go to the source himself. As I watched a live feed of Pope Francis emerging from the red curtains onto the center balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica, I couldn’t help but feel happy and hopeful not just for the Catholic community, but for myself as well. Just a few days ago, I wrote a piece questioning the relevancy of the Pope for Catholic Americans, but seeing the promising expressions on the faces of his faithful followers makes me optimistically reconsider my position. Real reform is possible, but this enormous task does not just burden the shoulders of Pope Francis. It is a cross we all must bear. "Pray for me, pray for me," he asked. While this certainly is a climactic point in one man’s narrative, Pope Francis reminded us last night that we are not in this alone.

Whether we consider him to be our spiritual father or not, a good Pope is a victory for all. In the words of someone who knows a thing a two about leading 1.8 billion adherents, Pope Benedict XVI, "With the help of God, we must find the way of peace together, for the good of humanity." @newreligionEU


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