As of yesterday afternoon (DST), early evening (MEZ) the Roman Catholic Church has its next Bishop of Rome, Peter's Successor, Pope Francis I (named to honor Assisi and not Albert, the Chairman). I was raised a Catholic and took the sacraments through my days at Rutgers College. I tell myself I still believe in God, just not so much in His church but I'm only kidding myself. And not doing a good job even of that.
I lack the courage to have NO convictions and we would all be better off if I did and could. I abandoned my faith for a hundred big reasons, from reform through views on birth control and individual freedom and a hundred thousand small ones, like not using NECCO wafers on Sunday for the Eucharist and no wi-fi in the confessional booth.
See? I can't even be honest with you when I know you don't care. Point in fact, as I listened yesterday to the press coverage of the selection I became confused and not a bit disheartened that a 76 year old was chosen to be the Prince of Rome and that he had been a Bishop in his native Argentina but had stepped down from those responsibilities and duties because of his age. I was heartened, though I know not why to realize in over two thousand years, he was the first non-European chosen.
I can do that because I regard Peter, the first pope, as somewhat an Indo-European. As you may have just realized, in addition to theology my strong subjects also don't include geography. I spoke briefly to someone who had less appreciation than I thought possible for the centuries of tradition that shaped the process we oh-so-casually watched on CNN (I suspect Fox had Sean Hannity wondering why the College of Cardinals had abandoned the swimsuit competition), but who hoped Francis I would help build a church he could believe in again.
And I think, as the Papacy of Francis I begins, praying for that return to the faith of our fathers, and mothers, might be a fine goal, albeit a difficult task, for which to strive. After all, as someone else in another time once said, these are times to try one's soul. Not all who wander are lost and sometimes we must travel our own way of the cross as lonely pilgrims and find our own way home.