March 13, 2013


Pope Francis I. CLICK for full coverage from NBC News.


Acting like typical politicians, the decision makers in the Catholic Church pander to their base. In this case, conservative oldsters who still don’t grasp the serious state of decline they are enabling. Rather than choosing an individual who might breathe some life into the scandal-ridden church, they pick a 76-year-old guy with one lung. Huh? Didn’t the last guy call it quits because of declining health and job-related fatigue? I wasn’t in the conclave but, last time I checked, nothing about “76-year-old” and “one lung” adds up to vim and vigor.

Oh, wait, he’s from Argentina. That’s what makes this significant. So, let me correct myself: the new Pope is an old guy with one lung from Argentina. Yeah, I get that Latin America is a current focus for the church but is a Pope who is old as dirt following a Pope who resigned because he was old as dirt the best you could do from the region? I’d welcome a non-European Pope any day of the week but that shouldn’t be the most exciting thing about him.

Look, as a recovering Catholic who fled the church, I have no real skin in the game but it would have been nice if they had picked someone with a track record of real reform and a passion for finally dealing head on with the sex abuse scandal. Instead, the first Pope from South America is known for humility and outreach to the poor (both VERY good things) but he’s also a “more of the same” conservative at time when a new direction would have been more prudent.

His Jesuit roots are already being overplayed as some shining example of “ooh, ahh” greatness. I went to Boston College, a Jesuit institution. Let’s just say it’s not a school known for making major contributions to social justice, outreach to the poor or espousing compassion for the disenfranchised. Being a Jesuit does not automatically a great Pope make. By the way, for those pundits who are already falling all over themselves to wax poetic about how Pope Francis I “connected” with the audience tonight (I’m talking to you Chris Matthews), he was out there for all of five minutes. Let’s hold the hallelujahs and hosannas until he does something more significant than smile and wave from a balcony.

Given the Vegas-meets-Vatican nature of the spectacle in Rome today, if this man is really as “humble” and “of the people” as the PR spin wants us to believe, I can suggest some pomp and circumstance that could (and should) be retired post haste. I still maintain JC would be aghast at the gross excess that is The Vatican. I do hope Pope Francis I is the fab guy some clearly think he is but, based on history, I’ll keep wading here in the deep end of the skeptic pool for now.