Rich Galen

In the Monday, April 4, 2005 Mullings I wrote:

I am not certain why I feel as strongly as I do about the passing of Pope John Paul II. I am not Catholic. I am not even Christian.

I felt the same way watching the coverage of the Conclave in the Vatican to choose a man to replace Pope Benedict I. I'm not sure why I was so taken by the process and so eager to see who would be chosen.

I have proven over the past four or five months that my understanding of American politics is a little thin. I have no clue as to the politics of 115 Cardinals, relatively elderly men, who are called upon to make a choice that will directly affect the (according to the BBC) 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world, and indirectly affect the 5.8 billion other humans on the planet.

Like the choice of a Chief Justice of the United States, I suspect the Cardinals had to go on Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio's official record, his unofficial record, and the personal interactions over the years.

As those investment ads on CNBC always say, "Past performance is no guarantee of future results."

Cardinal Bergoglio chose the name Pope Francis (I have to admit, I first typed "Pope Francisco" I think because I'm used to saying SAN Francisco) perhaps, as the first Jesuit Pope, holding out an olive branch to another major Catholic order, the Franciscans.

In an era when almost every mention of religion is in a negative connotation - one religion against another, one sect against another, religious influence on secular life, and so on - it was soothing, really, to see the amount of time at least the American cable networks devoted to the choosing of the leader of one.

There is no official leader of Protestant Christians; no one world chief Rabbi; no single Imam. I don't think there is a single leader of Buddhists nor for Hindus, but I am willing to be corrected about that.

I know there are other major religions, please don't complain if I left yours out, but you understand my point.

After the networks have packed up and left St. Peter's Square and the joyous prayers of the faithful have faded into the background din of Roman life, the naysayers will have their turn.

They will look into every nook and cranny of Cardinal Bergoglio's life and find examples of things his has said, written or done with which they disagree.

Someone is bound to point out that Argentina was a significant landing point for Nazi war criminals after World War II. First of all at 76, Pope Francis was about 8 years old when the war ended so he probably was not a major player in that.


Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at Mullings.com.