so… we have a new pope.
out with the old, in with the new.
er, unless it’s more of the same.
there’s excitement surrounding the new pontiff’s chosen name – pope francis the first – beckoning back to a hero of the christian faith and gentle revolutionary, st. francis of assisi who – according to catholic tradition – heard a voice saying,
‘Go and rebuild my Church, which you can see has fallen into ruin.’
some are optimistic that the new red shoes in the vatican will kick some spiritual tail and bring about much needed reform within the catholic hierarchy – it’s been plagued with scandal and allegations, most recently in the italian press release of the paradoxical juxtaposition of its housing an anti-gay cardinal in the same building as europe’s largest gay bathhouse.
cardinal dias reportedly lives in a swank 12 bedroom apartment just one floor above the Europa Multiclub gay sauna, while simultaneously reviling homosexuality in statements calling it ‘unnatural‘ and arguing that gays need to (and can be) ‘cured.’
meanwhile, the former cardinal jorge mario bergoglio of argentina has taken on a new papal name as francis – one never used by any pope in the history of the church. traditionally, new popes are rechristened with previously used names, harkening to a tradition with which they would like to align themselves (our previous pope, benedict, was the 16th benedict).
but the fact that this pope has chosen a never-before-used papal moniker may signal that he wants to lead the church into a new chapter – or to at least embrace a new tone.
in light of the scandals that have tarnished the church in recent years, let’s hope so.
still, LGBT activist groups were quick on the draw noting that as a cardinal, the new pontiff had more than a few things to say that seem to suggest it may be more of the same in vatican city. he has been quoted as saying that same-sex marriage is a ‘destructive attack on God’s plan‘ and went on to describe it as a ‘move‘ by the devil ‘to confuse and deceive the children of God‘
yet there may still be some hope for reform.
as a jesuit cardinal, francis reportedly lived in a small apartment rather than in the palatial bishop’s residence. he gave up his chauffeured limousine in favor of public transportation, and repeatedly cooked his own meals.
side note :: as a jesuit, francis would have taken a vow of poverty. financial reform in the vatican, anyone? we’ll see how it plays out.
in 2001, he visited a hospice to kiss and wash the feet of 12 AIDS patients.
‘we … share the conviction that we can only resolve the interconnected challenges of today’s world through dialogue,’ US president obama said of the first latino pontiff.
‘For decades the Catholic hierarchy has been in need of desperate reform. In his life, Jesus condemned gays zero times. In Pope Benedict’s short time in the papacy, he made a priority of condemning gay people routinely. This, in spite of the fact, that the Catholic hierarchy had been in collusion to cover up the widespread abuse of children within its care. We hope this Pope will trade in his red shoes for a pair of sandals and spend a lot less time condemning and a lot more time foot-washing.’
the good news is francis already did some of the foot-washing.
hopefully we’ll see some more.
‘Francis, Go and rebuild my Church, which you can see has fallen into ruin.’ indeed.