Having said that, I have more than a passing interest in the Catholic Church, as well as many other religions. I am fascinated by the Jewish faith, for example, and Muslims are common throughout the world (though we may not know or want to know that).
All told, I am a firm believer that religion is an element to anybody’s spiritual and intellectual “self being.” “It has to be done, Jeffrey,” as my longtime Irish Catholic friend Marty from the Bay Area — also a father — reminds me about embracing a religion.
My only caveat: Just don’t take it too seriously or you risk becoming intolerant of others — the biggest irony of all for religion.
My own opinion is that the Catholic Church could be “refreshed,” so I was glad that the new Pope Francis (AKA, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio) is not such a stuffy “Old World” fellow:
•He took the name Francis. Our son’s middle name is “McKenzie” (a family name), so now I can tell him that the Pope also has a name that could be mistaken for a girl’s name – a concern of his as he grows into a “tween.”
•Francis is our first pope from the New World. I believe this is a breakthrough, and it’s “safe” for traditionalists because of the large number of Catholics in Latin America.
•He is from Argentina. My wife and I have been to Argentina twice, and we love it: the food, the culture, the people. And it’s nearly on the same time zone, so there is no jet lag. It used to be very expensive to go there, but now the dollar is more closely pegged to their currency.
*He is from the Jesuit order. This is a distinctly California perspective to Catholicism. Gov. Jerry Brown was a Jesuit, and some of our finer universities (St. Mary’s and Santa Clara University, and Jesuit High School in Sacramento, for example) are based on the Jesuit teachings.
I am hopeful that Pope Francis can figure out a way to meld the Catholic faith with the reality of our New World, increasingly a challenge in our diverse world.
Since Popes are around for a long time, Francis could be the last Pope in my lifetime. I celebrate that if it’s true. Change is a good thing, in the Catholic Church and elsewhere.
Here’s satirist Tom Lehrer singing the “Vatican Rag.” If you don’t know about Tom’s work, you should.
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