I don’t want to argue the politics of religion, or the goods and bads of the Roman Catholic Church. Several people very close to me would proudly refer to themselves as lapsed Catholics. In fact, I’m not sure there is any other thing that more people seem to brag about no longer being, which seems truly odd to me.
I was raised Protestant, but converted 20 years or so ago when I married into a Catholic family. I enjoy what I see as the majesty of the Mass, and I suppose I am guilty of downplaying the bad and concentrating on the good the church does. Yes, the pedophilia scandals are horrible, but there are few groups standing up for the poor as strongly as the Catholic bishops in this country. I admire the fact that my church — unlike many of the fundamentalist Protestants in this country — doesn’t treat the poor as if their problems are their own fault.
But what fascinates me right now is the selection of Pope Francis, the first pope from the Western Hemisphere. Choosing a South American pope seems brilliant to me, since Latin America is where the church remains strongest in terms of its membership. It’s the one part of the world where radical Islam doesn’t seem to have made any serious inroads.
I’m not sure how long Jorge Bergoglio will serve — he is already 76 years old — but it is still a good move.
A look at the photo showing the scenes when the last two popes — Francis this year and Benedict in 2005 — were announced is at least a little bit humorous. In 2006, the people who were there were there, doing their best so see whatever they could see with their own eyes. This year hundreds if not thousands of people who were in attendance were watching on tablets or smart phones.
Apparently being there isn’t the best thing.
Actually, it reminds me of the old days at Dodger Stadium, when hundreds of fans attending baseball games came equipped with transistor radios so that they could hear what legendary broadcaster Vin Scully describe the game.
Sure, you can be there.
But why not enhance the experience if you can?
It isn’t 1950 anymore.