I was really excited that they chose a new Pope this week. Since the announcement came right around 3PM, I was on my way to pick up Boo at school when I heard there had been white smoke, and I heard the name of Pope Francis right before Boo got into the car. I refused to put on a music CD because I really wanted to hear about this new Pope.
Boo, slightly perturbed that she had to listen to the News instead of music, asked, "Why do we care? We're not Catholic."
And I started to wonder: why do I care? And beyond caring, why do I feel so hopeful and excited? I remember feeling that way when Benedict was selected, too. Of course, that didn't last long--I soon found out that he was more conservative than John Paul II, and of course his history with coverups of child abuse is appalling. But now there is a new Pope, and I can't help feeling hopeful.
Maybe he'll allow ordination of women!
Maybe he'll allow gay marriage, or at least allow gay people to remain in the Church.
Maybe he'll allow contraception, or at least stay out of America's contraception battles.
I can't even hope on the issue of abortion. But...you never know.
I realize that all of these changes are unlikely any time soon, and maybe in my lifetime. It's possible that Pope Francis will be even worse on Human Rights than the previous two Popes. And even though I'm not Catholic, I know the Pope has an influence on the world, on politics, and on the real lives of real people around the world. But I like that Pope Francis is known for taking his vow of poverty seriously, and that he's from a religious order--it feels more legitimate somehow for someone from a religious order to be Pope. (I wonder what kind of order the previous Popes have been from, if not religious.)
I guess we'll just have to wait and see.