Pope Francis and a woman who really, really, really hates his guts - The President of Argentina, the widow Kirchner.
The Holy Spirit picked a winner in the Italian kid from Argentina. The Conclave of Cardinals did the voting to be sure, but it was the Paraclete who did the selection of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ, Archbishop of Buenas Aires to be 266th successor to the Chair of St. Peter.
This 'breath from God' whispered in the hearts of Cardinals could not come at a better time for Christ's Church, especially here in the secularly propagandized United States. At this time, the loudest and most strident critics of the Catholic Church are the very people too many Catholics fear to offend with a confession of faith - " ( NPR voce with botoxed smile) I hope this Pope does everything we would have him do - ordain wonderful caring women and their wives as well and make sure that every woman has the proper funding to terminate her baby bump when she chooses; don't you think?"
Those who do 'disagree' that the murder of children in the womb is merely a medical procedure chosen by a woman, or that same sex partners must define the meaning marriage are said to be 'on the wrong side of history, homophobic, unevolved, hateful, patriarchal and racist.
The loudest tossers of the priest sex-abuse scandal are perfectly comfortable with abortion on demand, sex without borders and dismissive of the family as a primitive superstition. These folks worship at the temple of John Dewey - the partiarch of social science ( facts and data that lead to government control) want to see religion disappear altogether - Jew, Catholic, Muslim Protestant, Hindu; perhaps with allowances for secular Buddhism and Unitarians.
Dennis Byrne, a Chicago reporter of the old school ( he actually cares about the facts) answers the strident howlers.
Pope Francis will indeed open the window to a breath of fresh air in church, as it was said of Pope John XXIII decades ago. Say goodbye to the over-the-top ostentatiousness of some hierarchy and clergy that has troubled many Catholics. Pray that Francis can cleanse the church of the last vestiges of the child sex-abuse scandal and that he will clean up the alleged hinky financial dealings. Expect a crackdown on the curia — the church's own version of a bloated government bureaucracy. And I'll bet Francis will bring more women — religious and lay — into the higher ranks of the church.
But the church's critics — inside and out — might as well get used to some things not changing — opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion, artificial contraception and, as much as I would like to see it, married and women priests. I'd be glad to engage my religious friends on those issues, but that's for another day. Disagreement over such things need not destroy my faith. And it shouldn't allow the church's critics to define it as a medieval, abusive organization, obsessed with sex.
Pope Francis or no, the church will remain both a human and a divine organization, hamstrung by human frailties but capable of great deeds.
I am a practicing Catholic, though sometimes I ditch practice, and try to live according to morals and ethics my faith lays out for me. Christ, His Father and the Holy Spirit, as well as my neighbors are holding the score card - not a study, a poll, a compelling narrative, a meme, MSNBC, WTTW, Hillary Clinton, Lady Gaga, the Cast of Book of Mormon, Glee, Anderson Cooper, or the Illinois Department of Human Services, much less some elected official or appointed judge .
Americans, Muslim, Jew, Catholic, or Baptist, are not yet subject to wearing an embroidered Star, Cross, or Crescent Moon on our duds.