Friday, March 1, 2013

My Pope

I was born without religion, at least in the sense that my parents didn't practice any religion. Through a babysitter, my first experience with the church was with the baptist faith. Eventually when my mom remarried, we started going to a methodist church on a somewhat regular basis and that continued through high school. In college, I never went to church and that carried on for a time after I left for my first job. After a few years though, I began to hunger for something more meaningful and began attending a lutheran church mostly because I knew several people who already went there. After a year or so, I took steps and joined the lutheran church.

About that time I left that job and moved to another state. There was another lutheran church in that town but it wasn't the same feeling without knowing anybody and so I found myself only attending rarely. Eventually I met and married a Catholic woman and though I was resistant to converting at first, the more I attended church with her, the more comforting I felt with the church. In the fall of 2005, I made the commitment and joined the Catholic church which was headed by Pope Benedict XVI. Although I grew up knowing who Pope John Paul II was, I wasn't attached to him because I wasn't attached to the church. In a sense, Pope Benedict has been pope my entire Catholic life thus far.

So it was with a sense of sadness that I watched him abdicate his powers yesterday and leave for a life of seclusion. It was shocking that this all happened in the first place. It wasn't shocking that he was the first pope to abdicate in 600 years but for me, it was shocking that a man who lead 25% of the world's population would voluntarily give up power. I guess that goes to show that he truly was a messenger for god and not for himself. I think it very admirable that he did abdicate when he felt he was unable to carry out his duties to make way for someone younger and more able.

Now begins a period of uncertainty as no one yet knows when the conclave to elect a new pope will begin. I suspect it will happen sooner than the traditional 15 to 20 days of waiting since all the cardinals who will do the electing are already at the Vatican and we are in the midst of Lent when leadership is desired. Like many people, I hope for a more progressive pope to tackle the problems within the Catholic church of sexual abuse and birth control. However since Benedict His Holiness elected 67 of the 117 cardinals voting, it is not likely that any changes to be made will be large. I suspect it will happen with time like most things.

So 'my pope' is now gone and more than likely I will never see him again. Like most Catholics, I will pray for the cardinals now in hopes that they will elect the best cardinal to lead our church into the future.


warren said...

I am not Catholic but I think this is sort of an exciting time. I don't remember any other Pope elections prior to Benedict but that was a lot of fun to sort of witness. In a way, I am excited to see another so soon. I know it makes the leadership tougher without the longevity but I figure the church will make do. So, I am excited to see how it unfolds!

Anonymous said...

The choice is between a arch-conservative or a conservative. There was never anything liberal about the Catholic Church.
Here's my opinion of the current situation. There is a very powerful curia at this moment. And the fear that Benedict has is allowing them free rein if he became incapacitated.
My feeling is it will be Milan, Angelo Scola. He was Venice and was moved down/sideways when he went to Milan. I don't see an American at all. Either North or South. Burke would be the choice if they went that way, but I don't see it. There was talk about Manilla, but he's too young and the other two are too old. Oswald Gracias, Bombay is a maybe. I don't think Vienna has a hope.
Anyways it will be a while yet before we hear the Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum.

Ed said...

Warren - I don't remember any elections other than Benedict's either because I wasn't yet in school when the previous one was elected.

Vince - I haven't read enough on the subject of cardinals to know who is in the running but if I were forced to choose, I would say a white male. If that isn't good enough I would say the odds favor a white male European. My wife being Filipino is leaning towards the Filipino that has been mentioned as being in the running.

Murf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Murf said...

At least make it someone 60 or under. Sheesh. Although ol' Ben was just 'filler' anyway.

Shosh said...

I thought it wasn't that long ago when this pope came into power.

I think its good and bad that they pick really old cardinal to be a pope. It gives the other cardinals a chance to be a pope. They could do it like presidents and elect a pope for a certain term.

Ed said...

Murf - I think the cardinals are leary of putting in a younger person as pope again. They don't want another John Paul II who stays in office for decades. Besides, I think you have to be over 60 to be a cardinal anyway. Looking at a picture on the news and 80 looks to be the average!

Shosh - Thanks for your comment. Benedict was in office not quite eight years. I would be afraid that electing them to terms would reduce the office to pure politics instead of religious matters.

sage said...

This is a very interesting time for the church. The tide has turned to where Christianity is no longer dominated by white Europeans, but the old power elite is reluctant to give up the reigns.

malor said...

I was a Catholic before but no church now. Comparing Catholicism here in US vs the Philippines, they are very different. Catholic here is more like Protestant.

I believe that it should not be someone from Europe. It was said that majority of Catholic is poor. I don't think someone from Europe can relate to the issue of the church. However, Catholic from other part of the world might be more conservative and might not be open to modernizing the church. Catholic church needs to keep up with time.