In choosing Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio to become its next pope, the Catholic Church offers those of us who are a part of its membership, and the rest of the world as well, the hope of a spiritual leader who can rekindle the common touch for which Pope John Paul II was so beloved -- and perhaps rid the Church of its reputation for loving the material of this world as much, if not more, than the spiritual.
I understand that for many other denominations, the Catholic Church is viewed as not being a part of the "Christian" faith. That, of course, is nonsense. Catholics believe that Jesus was the only son of God, who suffered, died, and was buries and resurrected so that those who believe in him could have salvation and the promise of eternal life.
And while, admittedly, many Catholics simply don't know the scriptures due to a past obsession by the Church with liturgy, Pope John Paul reversed that drift by emphasizing the Gospel, the teachings and story of the life, death and resurrection of Christ, in every aspect of everyday life as well as in every Mass. It's just that some parishes are only catching on some 30-plus years later.
So Jesus lives in the Catholic Church. But what also increasingly lived within the church has been scandal, a refusal to face past transgressions, and an impression that intrigue about power and wealth took precedence over spreading the word of Christ. Pomp and circumstance plague every institution, including churches. And trust me, it can come in the form of the magnificence of Vatican City or in that super fancy nondenominational "mega church" where the preacher wears $3,000 suits and pushes his cable TV program.
That's why it is refreshing to learn that the cardinals who made up the "conclave" (upon which, it should be noted our Electoral College was based in part) chose a certain cardinal who was born in and led Buenos Aires, Argentina, to become the first pope in history to hail from the Americas.
But that's not what makes him refreshing. What makes him refreshing is his approach to power. He chose not to live in the bishop's residence in Buenos Ares, instead opting for a simple apartment. He gave up the chauffeured limo and took the bus in fulfilling his duties. He even cooks his own meals.
One has to guess that a man who is that much a part of the real world will likely be more willing to recognize that love and forgiveness -- not mistrust and judgmental views -- are the true story of Jesus Christ and the rock upon which he stated he would build his church.
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