The straight dope on the pope

All right so someone shared this article about the Pope on Facebook. Well, it’s in National Geographic. And since over the last few days I’ve learned that Nat Geo died rather suddenly I’m in a little bit of shock. I decided to start mourning early; though I’m still in denial I’m making the push toward acceptance. Lessee, I forgot what Elizabeth Kubler-Ross listed as the intermediate stages of grief and loss. One sec, looking it up. OK, anger. Yes that fits. I’m so pissed that Rupert Murdoch took my beloved knowledge porn from me– I am going to now dive into the archive and he can’t stop me. Yeah Rupert, that’s right, I’m learning, whatcha gonna do about it?

Anyway, this article about the pope.…/vatican/draper-text

I mean, the pope had to get elected by all the cardinals. Apparently a lot of them didn’t really know who he was. But the Catholic Church has been having all sorts of money problems as well as popularity problems from being out of touch and of course abusing boys and covering it up. Well, over the years a large section of the Catholic Church in South America has devoted itself toward helping the poor. Francis himself (originally named Mario Jose Bergoglio) was in exile for a while from Argentina during a dictatorship that murdered thousands of political opponents. So it’s really been brewing for some time that one of these liberals from south america was going to become pope.

But he’s able to play with the big conservative boys; apparently the pope has as much guile, discipline and cold-calculating strategy in him as he has the joy, humility and compassion which he’s better known for. The article quotes Ramiro de la Serna, a Franciscan priest based in Buenos Aires who has known the pope for more than 30 years: “I believe we haven’t yet seen the real changes, and I also believe we haven’t seen the real resistance yet either.”

Nonetheless, I assume Pope Francis is going to use his power within the church bureaucracy, not just his influential smile, wave, bow, kneel and tear ducts leaking for the cameras. Because really, the way I see it, all of that stuff is to help the church look good, cover up all the unseemly stuff going on under the robes. By all accounts this guy is very genuine; I really think he wants to help people. And that means nuts and bolts, loaves and fishes, not just hearts and minds.

What I find interesting– the article makes it clear that Francis hasn’t challenged official church beliefs. In fact he appointed a conservative cardinal to head up the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly known as the General Congregation of the Universal Inquisition.)

The pope’s focus is on showing (not telling) people how an honorable and righteous person executes his or her faith through acts that bring glory to god. Hugging orphans, washing the feet of prisoners, cracking jokes and riding around with the windows down no matter the weather.

But hold the phone and hang on to your pointy hat, isn’t there a contradiction in there somewhere? It’s a strange form of hypocrisy to practice humility and generosity while preaching evil and sin. And yet this is the bizarre approach of Pope Francis.

As many of the aging and world-weary catholic bureaucrats in the article– I feel bemused, confused and otherwise disarmed. Is this the masterful strategy of someone who apparently outgrew impulses years ago and now plans out his days well in advance? Or is it rather the desperate ploy of a man in an impossible situation who knows that the moment he shows weakness his life is over?

I know that I couldn’t do what he does. I have no interest in being anybody’s hero but my own. And even if Francis is 100% humble, seriously pure, the best stuff you can grow in Argentina, I can’t put the pope in my pipe and smoke him. Because along with the smoke, you get mirrors– self-reflection requires just one or the other.

Now I wouldn’t mind hot boxing the vatican with the pope and a few hundred of our closest Catholic friends. Who needs heaven when you can get high on earth? But seriously, it would be great because when I got the munchies I know there would be an endless supply of ‘nilla wafers. I’m tellin’ you, those white boys know how to party.


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