Sounds like spells from Harry Potter? It's not, it's Latin. We have a new Pope! I know almost all my readers know that I am Catholic, and the church has every reason to celebrate right now. For those living under a rock, our previous Pope, Benedict stepped down last month, citing old age and inability to meet the demands necessary to lead the church. Catholics everywhere were stunned. It was completely unexpected. I felt very unsure. I did a lot of praying that this was the right move for the church. It's no secret that the Catholic Church is riddled with scandal. Between sex scandal cover ups, Vatileaks, and the infighting in the curia, it is a tough time to be Catholic.
In the two weeks leading up to the conclave I did a lot of reading on the papabili (the contenders for pope). Technically it could have been any of the 115 cardinals in the conclave, but there always emerge a few "front runners". As I read the biographies one stood out in particular: Jorge Mario Bergoglio. I knew he was a definite long shot, but I thought it's what we needed. He is a Jesuit. I have a special place in my heart for the Jesuit order, as I went to a Jesuit College. I know from first hand experience how AWESOME the Jesuits are. Unlike Diocesan priests they don't focus on the every day running of a Church. Instead they live in communities together, and the Jesuits are famously known for their efforts in education and ministry to the poor. The Jesuits at Loyola would have happy hour with the students every Friday at a local bar. Why? Because they go where the people are. They are humble, easy to talk to, and accepting of all kinds.
I was at work when the white smoke first billowed out from the Cistene Chapel. I shed a few tears at my desk, and along with the rest of the Catholic world I was in shock when the Pope was announced: Jorge Mario Bergoglio, taking the name Francis I. St Francis is known for his life of poverty and ministry to the poor. I really should have had money on my pick in Vegas, I would have cleaned up.
As elated as I was, and still am it's still not an easy time to be a Catholic. This is where living in New Orleans was awesome, EVERYONE is Catholic. You never have to explain yourself. Among my (very educated) friends I often feel like I'm defending my decision to belong to a peasant religion. I know they don't mean to offend, but it's really hard to be constantly questioned and (feel) attacked. Sometimes I feel like people hold me personally responsible for every wrong doing of the church. It doesn't stop with people I know either, I see it on TV, and in the news, every where people constantly questioning Catholics (sometimes warranted, sometimes not). I don't write this because I want to be some sort of victim. I choose to be a part of this religion, with all it's flaws, because I so intrinsically believe in the dogma that has nothing to do with the curia, or Vatileaks, or sex scandals; it has to do with faith at its core.
I really have every faith that God was in the room, helping the cardinals at the conclave make their decision. I think Pope Francis is exactly what this church needs, and I look forward to growing in my faith with him as our leader.