I am neither a Catholic nor particularly religious.
Oh, I went to Sunday School, sang in the choir for twelve years, learned the Lord’s Prayer, the Twenty-Third Psalm, the Golden Rule, and some of the Ten Commandments — truthfully, I couldn’t do arithmetic to save my soul, so I didn’t try very hard to learn all ten.
I have Beliefs.
But also Questions.
I have Faith, but it’s my own warped brand most of which I learned from the Gospel of My Mom. She did good deeds all the time, but she didn’t necessarily think you had to go to church every week.
So I’m out of my comfort zone when I say how much I like the new Pope. Francis — would he mind if I call him Francis? — has a perpetual twinkle in his eyes.
I love a twinkle.
What’s not to love about a Pope who wears plain brown shoes, instead of fancy custom-made red slippers, and who personally washed the feet of twelve young people of different faiths not long after he was elected…inaugurated…anointed…whatever.
I like knowing he was a nightclub bouncer in Buenos Aires, that he had a girlfriend before he became a priest, and that he loved to dance the tango. How cool is that?
The white smoke had barely cleared the chimney before conservative Catholics started rattling their thuribles — incense thingies to us non-Catholics.
Last spring, an unexpected gift of two doves in a cage turned into a papal photo-op. The new pontiff released the birds, but one returned to perch on the holy fingers for a while. Another picture, taken from below the pope’s elevated platform, showed one of his entourage looking directly up at the underside of a dove in flight. His look said, “Please don’t poop on me, bird.” If that had happened, I’ll bet the Pope would have laughed.
A month ago a little boy climbed up beside Francis while he was speaking to thousands of people about the importance of family. The kid hugged the Pope’s knees and climbed into his chair. Francis smiled like a benevolent grandpa and patted him on the head.
Lately the Pope has been masquerading as a regular priest, dressed in black robes instead of white, and tending to the poor in Rome. He drives himself in a 1993 Renault with 190,000 miles on it, leaving the popemobile parked at home in the garage.
This man even has a Twitter account!
He’s the kind of person I’d like to know. An everyday guy who shocked his flock with his view on Faith: “If one has the answers to all the questions —that is proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt.”
I know people who think they have all the answers, who have blind beliefs, and who never hesitate to espouse them. It’s their way or no way.
Drives me nuts.
I’ve always thought some Roman Catholic practices make life a whole lot easier. Confession, for instance. Do what you want Monday through Saturday, confess your sins Saturday evening, go to Mass Sunday, and you’re good to go for another week. Or communion. That’s real wine in those little glasses. Maybe not a good year, but still. And school uniforms, what a great idea! They take the drama out of dressing for school. Same clothes every day, identical hand-me-downs for all the children.
I’ve opened myself to criticism, maybe even exorcism, but here’s the thing: if damning comments show up here, I have the Power of Delete in my fingertips.