A new Pope has been elected. I won’t comment on the choice, it’s obviously the outcome of an internal political struggle and a need to show that people outside of Europe are represented in some way or other. Note that the Pope is still white, so no thought was given to true multiculturalism. It may even be considered that he only grew up in Argentina, but because his parents were Italian he can’t be said to be South American with a straight face. It’s been said that this Pope, just like the last one, will result in a decline in followers and possibly even help speed along atheism, but while the former is almost certainly true the latter is up for debate.
That all of this clashes with the idea that God elects the Pope is glaringly obvious, but I’ll skip all of that and focus on something else entirely: What are the responses by believers to the new Pope?
To look at that, I’ll pick some comments from FB, twitter or newspapers and check what people are saying.
The choice of comments is not representative and merely reflects the biases of the author.
The first comment comes from one of my friends, posted on FB. The English translation reads:
Francesco I. from Buenos Aires. A good choice. A good prayer.
How this guy knows that it was a good choice is a mystery to me. Others have already complained that this Pope was a bad choice, being a homophobe, conservative, anti-progressive kook. It also once again calls into question what any of this choosing has to do with God’s will. If God were choosing, we’d have a Pope in the first few minutes by unanimous vote but NO!, it sometimes takes ages to elect a new one.
The second thing is the “A good prayer” bit. It can be understood in two ways, one of them is entirely bizarre.
1) After seeing that a new pope was elected, said friend prayed and felt good about it. Slightly weird, but not bizarre.
2) He or someone else prayed for the outcome to be what it is or prayed for a good outcome. The second bit is subjective, so I’ll address the first. If that really were the case, why did God answer those prayers and not the other ones? What happens to God’s will if he has to bow down to your prayer?
The second comment can be found here at HuffPo:
Just a matter of time before all the criticism and nasty comments show up before the man has a chance. Pope Francis’ religous beliefs and convictions belong to him. He doesn’t have to justify those beliefs. You may not agree with his beliefs. At least acknowledge that he too is entitled to free speech. We keep getting away from that. Live and let live. No one should be bound and gagged because they reject abortion, reject same sex marriage and reject life styles. As long as that person is civil towards fellow mankind….why, why do others condemn? I don’t agree with abortion. I don’t agree with same sex marriage. This doesn’t mean I don’t love others. I simply do not agree…what is so bad about that? OK…I’m ready for all the ugly feedback. 🙂
I find it strange that a Pope’s religious beliefs belong only to him. Isn’t he supposed to guide his sheep in their faith-struggle? Even worse, isn’t he supposed to uphold the views presented in the Bible? (He is upholding the whole “no gays” part, so that’s not what I’m complaining about. I’m complaining about the commenter’s views that he can have other views.)
The second part about not “binding and gagging” people because they reject “… life styles” is a wicked idea. People who condemn others because of personal choices that do not harm others (i.e. homosexuality, etc.) is despicable and should not be tolerated in anyone, even less so in people who present a business or a group of people. People get fired about such comments every day, but the Pope is applauded for them. We live in a weird world.
Many other posts are either along the lines of
He was the best we could hope for. Thank GOD
or rationalisations of both his crimes and the crimes of his predecessors.
All of this should lead to some kind of point, right?
Well, going through about 500 comments or so on the BBC, NY-Times, HuffPo, Guardian and some Austrian newspapers’ sites, I noticed three things:
1) There are more people critical of the new pope than there are people endorsing him. It seems that even Christians are aware that he may not have been the best choice.
2) The ones who do protect the pope are very often ignoring large parts of his history. The few who acknowledge that he did some evil things in his past sweep that under the rug and claim that this has no effect on his current stance.
3) Christians who did neither of those, that is to say neither endorse in a weird way nor reject him, post things that are supremely weird.
This post was just a short insight into the weirdness of “moderate” and “enlightened” Christians. Nothing will follow.
I do have one question though: How long do you think it will take before the new Pope says something really stupid? And I’m not talking about the statements issued a few hours after his election á la “homosexuality is bad”, I’m talking “AIDS is bad, but not as bad as condoms”-stupid.
My guess? Before summer.