When I was born, Pope Pius XII was in charge of the Roman Catholic Church. He served for 19-years, from 1938-1958.
Pope John XXIII followed, serving for 5-years. Pope Paul VI followed him, serving for 15-years. Then came Popes John Paul I (1-MONTH), John Paul II (27-years), and Benedict XVI (legitimately resigned in good standing after 8-years).
And as of the year 2013, the Catholic Church is now in the leadership hands of Pope Francis, a truly humble Jesuit who seems, so far, to be not only “talking-the-talk,” but also “walking-the-walk.”
Please understand me; I believe that ALL of the men having served as Pope during my lifetime have been highly educated and sincere in performing the duties of their respective offices. In fact, many of them—but by NO means ALL of them—have actually BEEN humble.
Every Pope during my lifetime—except for Francis in matters under his direct control—enjoyed the prestige and abundance of life’s niceties that came with the job.
These included, among many other things, a luxurious Vatican apartment, the finest foods and drinks, expensive chauffeured limousines, a private jet akin in comfort and security to Air Force One, ditto on a private helicopter, and the services of people designated to tend their to every need.
As well, with the exception of Francis in matters under his direct control, the entire church hierarchy has always wallowed in pomp and circumstance. Past Popes, Cardinals, and Bishops have all worn, and current Cardinals and Bishops continue wearing, the vestiges of pomp and circumstance as though such things have been handed down as Biblical prime directives.
At the least, this baloney is avoidably expensive and pompous. The Roman Catholic Church could feed and clothe third-world poor populations for years on what this pretentious crap costs in a single year.
And don’t even get me started on the opulent appearance of even the less affluent Catholic Church structures. As far as the eye can see, they’re gold, bronze, expensive brass, or some combination of the three.
I’ve viewed endless images of the Last Supper where Jesus is said to have offered the first Catholic Mass. And I have yet to view ANY of them wherein he was wearing symbolic vestments and using a gold jewel-studded chalice.
Jesus never seemed to be about pomp and circumstance; so from whence has it all come?
Pope Francis is the first one in my lifetime to actually practice what he preaches by shunning as much of it as he can—but understand that I believe that all of them have been good and sincere men, especially John Paul II.
If it were possible safety-wise, he’d use public transportation to get around the Vatican, as well as while visiting other places.
But since there is no shortage of ideological morons who’d consider killing a Pope as a badge of honor, they need all the provisions of top-notch security available to them.
But if you notice, Pope Francis uses a chauffeur-driven Ford Focus instead of a mid-level six figure-costing luxurious Mercedes-Benz limousine.
He wears off-the-shelf clothing, including simple black shoes and socks instead of the white socks and red shoes worn by Benedict XVI. His Papal ring is silver-plated, not GOLD. And he sports an iron crucifix instead of a GOLD one.
He even carries his own luggage and pays his rent, in person, for the humble apartment in which he lives.
And every bit as important, while not changing the Church’s dogma even a tad concerning such stroke-inducing topics as homosexuality and abortion, he’s certainly doing his best to change the long-standing pontificating tone that has reached an absolutely shrill-like decibel level.
His words, “Who am I to judge?” speak volumes to the actual teachings of Jesus Christ. And they’ve caused several very mouthy conservative Cardinals and Bishops to herniate themselves while circling the wagons trying to “explain” what he meant.
But his words need NO explanation as long as the points of religion remain love, understanding, and forgiveness, rather than endless pontification, moral indignation, and regurgitating endless streams of “unquestionable” dogmatic prime directives.
My late maternal grandmother, while not having been a formally educated woman, professed a superlative sense of common sense and an uncanny ability for making absolutely unambiguous points.
She was a divorced NON-CATHOLIC because her husband, my grandfather, a PROFESSED Catholic whom she married according to Catholic Church rules and regulations, was a monumentally abusive alcoholic who tended spend his entire paycheck on booze and then beat her.
And, by herself, she raised 5-children through the height of the Great Depression, every one of whom lived and died as a dedicated Catholic. And with the exception of THIS particular grandson, each of them raised all of her other grandchildren as sincerely abiding Catholics, as well.
As for what happened to ME, let me simply say that I asked too way too many forbidden questions. It wasn’t due to an absolute conviction that God didn’t exist; it was—and still is—because I’m not CONVINCED that God does exist.
I could well be in big eternal trouble, but I don’t sweat it because the God that I question, according to all of my past religious teachers, is the same one who gave me my questioning mind.
In matters of science where perpetual questions are the rule—some of which may NEVER be fully answered, this is a good thing. But in matters of religion, wherein unquestioned answers are ALWAYS provided absolutely, it’s forbidden.
It’s why I received endless “Dear Mrs. Walther” notes from the good Sisters of St. Joseph, and it’s why I always made sure to answer a sufficient number of religion test-questions correctly in order to receive a C-grade in religion.
Anyway, my grandmother lived by a simple rule when it came to preaching to others. Her exact words were—and I heard them many times. “WE take care of the living; GOD takes care of the DEAD. And GOD does NOT need humans to help HIM run the universe.”
And in addition to these words, my late father always told me to pay attention to peoples’ ACTIONS, not their WORDS.
Given Pope Francis’s behavior to date, I’m convinced that my grandmother would have loved and admired him. But even so, and in accordance to HER own words, “Who am I to judge?”