As a lifetime Catholic, in a sense, I feel great honor to witness two conclaves in my lifetime. I have to admit that the retirement of (the former) Pope Benedict XVI was quite a shock considering that I’ve always known that popes remain in their position for the rest of their lives, just like monarchs in general. This only gave me a realization that I don’t exactly know my lifetime religion that well, most especially the “politics” side of it, so to speak.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is a new name to me. I admit that I don’t normally pay attention to the “political powers” behind the Catholic Church and that I prioritize my personal faith and practice as a Catholic. I don’t deny the controversial issues that’s going on, such as the clergy’s sexual abuse, connections with the Mafia and organized crime, and all others, but those actions, to my belief, has got nothing to do with the religion itself. Just because a number of members of the clergy commit crimes, doesn’t mean all clergy, let alone all Catholics, commit the same crimes, as many haters would regularly spew.
So, the question comes in mind. What are my expectations for the church under our new pope, Pope Francis I? I guess it’ll be almost the same as my expectations back in 2005 when Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was elected. Modernize and reform, unity within the Vatican through common ideals that would fit today, reach out to other religions and find solutions to break the barriers of hate and respect the similarities and differences, and probably this would be wishful thinking, please do something with these sexual abuse crimes that’s going on within the local churches. Hiding it and pretend that things like this actually happen among the lower clergy isn’t going to solve things. The Vatican has the power to excommunicate anyone they find unacceptable to the representations and beliefs of the Catholic Church, why not use that power to resolve these corrupt crimes that has been happening within the governance of the church? Being an active volunteer as a choir member of our local church, that’s the reason why every year we have to attend these environmental safety seminars held by our diocese as a response to all these sexual abuse crimes that had been going on. Why not apply these to all members of the clergy themselves?
At this moment, all I can do is pray in hopes that God would lead Pope Francis I to the right path and use his humility and service he was known and respected for to his upcoming missions to come.
Viva El Papa!