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The World Gains a New Pope

I want to extend my sincere congratulations to all our Catholic readers on the election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to be Pope. May the Papacy of Francis I be a blessing to all and bring strength to the Catholic Church.

jorge BergoglioAs a Jew, the Pope has long played a role in my life as well. I think many Jews look to the Pope as a moral leader, even if not their own. John Paul II was a personal hero of mine, as he was to so many Catholics, and an inspiration to those like me who detested the Soviet dominion over Eastern Europe.

I’ve heard much commentary so far about how Bergoglio is from Latin America and is a champion of the poor. But from what I understand, these two qualities of his do not at all add up to something like liberation theology.

You can find a great biography of Bergoglio written by the Catholic News Service, which notes he has “has been outspoken against abortion and same-sex marriages.” And National Review, which I guess is still sort of a Catholic-leaning conservative outlet, gives him the thumbs up.

One of my favorite memories is of traveling in Poland and staying at the apartment of a stranger who had swept a sleepy, young, lone traveler she’d never seen before off the train and taken him to her apartment. She was a middle aged woman who lived with her father, and neither could speak English.

As I sat with the elderly gentleman trying to communicate, I pointed out a photograph of John Paul II on the table next to him. Finally, we had struck on something we both understood. He grabbed the photo and clasped it to his chest, exclaiming, nearly with tears in his eyes, “Papa! Papa!”

I know the people of Argentina are experiencing similar joy tonight. May Francis I have many healthy years as Pope ahead of him.

48 Responses to The World Gains a New Pope

  1. Indeed!
    May the span of time between this Papacy and the next be long, be full of hope, belief, few doubts, and be spiritually profitable for all Catholics and those touched by belief in the One True G-d.

  2. this was a really beautiful article, Keith, and I thank you for writing it.

    I’m a lifelong Jew who converted to Catholicism when my daughter was 4. (she’s 22 now, and is going back to Judaism and dragging me with her!) so I feel like I’m part of both worlds.

    I too have high hopes for this pope. now all we need is a competent president…and life will be good.

  3. and speaking of Jews and Catholics, here’s an email statement I just got from the Simon Wiesenthal Center:

    “This is not only an important occasion for the people of Latin America but for Jews as well. We have learned from our office in Buenos Aires that as Cardinal Bergoglio he was outspoken in the attack against the Jewish Community Center by agents of Iran in 1994. Additionally, he attended services on Rosh Hashanah in the B’nei Tikva synagogue in 2007 and again in the Emanu-El Synagogue on Chanukah in 2012. This past November he presided over a Kristallnacht commemoration his own cathedral in Buenos Aires….We have every reason to be confident Pope Francis I will be a staunch defender of the historic Nostra Aetate, the declaration on the relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions of the Second Vatican Council, which forever changed the relationship of the Catholic Church and the Jewish people.”

    • Catholic doctrine forbids Catholics to attend worship services of other religions. That seems harsh to moderns but the true Catholic Church has always taught this because it gives the false impression that other religions are on par with Catholicism when Catholicism teaches the Catholic Church is the only true faith and the only faith that leads one to eternal life with God.

      • I don’t believe this is so any longer. My husband and I attended 12 years of Catholic schools and were never taught this.

        My mother, however, was forbidden to be a bride’s maid or to attend the marriage ceremony of a friend back in the 1940s, as it wasn’t a Catholic ceremony.

      • Catholic doctrine does not forbid attending services of other religions. What it forbids is substituting them for attendance at Mass. I found this out when I went to Russia in 1970 and asked if attending Mass at the Russian Orthodox Church was ok. I was told that it was ok since the Russian and Eastern Orthodox churches are not heretical, just schismatic. Protestant churches are considered “heretical”. So attending Mass at one of the Orthodox churches would fulfill my obligation to attend Mass. But I could attend weddings, funerals, etc. at churches other than Catholic without committing a “sin”.

        I have since come to the conclusion that God is God is God and religion is just something people fight about. I left the Church because they said that if you weren’t Catholic you were going to hell. Well, my dad wasn’t Catholic and he was a better person than most of the Catholics I knew. And if the Catholics were going to send him to hell, I was going with him.

        Incidentally, my niece just got married last Sept. and her service was a mix of Catholic and Jewish. She is Jewish and she married a nice Catholic boy. A priest and a rabbi officiated at the wedding.

        • I’m sorry that you have been misguided by those who claim to represent Christ’s church but that has been the case since the close of Vatican II.

          Pope Paul VI, at the time of the council stated “the smoke of Satan has entered the Church” so was clearly aware of what was going on. Maybe because he was so ill at the time he did nothing to stop that smoke from overpowering the minds of the leaders at the time but the fact remains, the council didn’t reform the Church but transformed it into a hybrid Catholic/Protestant/pagan/New Age/Socialist-thinking religion that is not the true Catholic religion.

          If you research church doctrine, traditions, and practices prior to Vatican II and compare them to Vatican II, you will clearly see this transformation.

          • So now one is a bigot if they believe what the true Church teaches?

            As I said, please research the differences between what the church after Vatican II teaches and what it taught before then. See for yourself.

  4. Two ancient religions, entertwined but different are a comfort and inspiriation to all of us. Christians never forget that Jesus Christ was a Jew, and that we share a Holy Book.

    • A lovely thought, srdem65…

      “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:
      And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
      Deuteronomy 6:4-5

      • My cousin is Episcopalian and recently married a Brit she is now both
        Church of Engand and what she fondly calls Catholic Lite. See we can
        find faith in one or two places she even takes her Labrador to St Paul’s.
        He also attends the pub after:-)

  5. Keith, kind words. As a Christian it is important to me to stand with the Jews. As a Catholic I am encouraged by the selection of Pope Francis I. I pray for him.

    But, as a very chagrined alum of the “Jesuit” Georgetown University misled by John DeGioia I suspect that institution will be one of the first to attack him. Unfortunately.

    Until then, I will celebrate this new Pope.

  6. I think to many, whether Catholic, Protestant, marginally Christian or Jew, the Pope matters, and he is looked upon as a spiritual and moral leader.

  7. This is a very exciting day, the more I read and learn about Pope Francis the happier I’ve become. Brietbart is running a story the new Pope denounced politicians and legislators that are Catholic and vote for abortion and the like. He said no Comunion for them, love it!

  8. I’m so happy and comforted today. As a convert this is such a joy and brings me peace. Also reminds me to hope my friends of all religions are finding peace and joy on this day. No matter what religion I hope we’re all finding a
    day devoid of argument and strife replaced with sheer happiness.
    Pax Vobiscom to all.

  9. Sorry Keith but as most journalists and not a Catholic, you believe what you read and hear concerning Catholicism.

    This new guy is not a true pope just as Benedict Ratzinger and John Paul II were not true pope’s because they are members of the church invented during the Vatican Council II in the 1960’s which discarded the doctrines of the Catholic Church they did not like, rewrote the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to conform to Protestant/pagan ideology, and basically gutted everything handed down from Christ through the Apostle’s that didn’t comport to their Modernist ideology. They have all practiced the heresy of Modernism and excommunicated themselves from the true Catholic Church.

    • I bet you attend that reactionary church that Mel Gibson has in CA. Pre-Vat 69 all the way. Of course, that didn’t stop Mel from getting a divorce, for adultery on his part, and behaving like a generally degenerate person. But he can go to confession and be absolved of all his sins after a few Hail Marys.

    • Sometimes religions must evolve; for example, during the Protestant Reformation in the 1600s.

      As an example of a “religion” which is stagnant, unchanged and unchanging, think islam. That’s what happens to societies and cultures when they follow rigid belief systems which allow no change or evolution.

        • The truth doesn’t change, but people’s perception of it does. We all evolve intellectually, even the Church. It seems that you haven’t. What a pity.

  10. What a wonderful story about your experience in Poland, Keith. I share your admiration for John Paul II. He played an integral role in ending the cold war with Reagan and Thatcher. I’m praying that Pope Francis I has great success in leading the Catholic faith.

  11. Being Wiccan and growing up in Skokie, Ill..mostly Jewish, I appreciate your hope for the Catholics. You’re a good guy Keith and I read your blog everyday. You are fair and intelligent. I hope the Catholics of the world embrace Pope Francis as he will give them hope and lead them in our 21st Century…)0(

  12. Keith:

    Your sentiments are well stated, and I’m sure we all hope the new Pope will be successful in cleansing the soiled parts of the Catholic church.

    On the down side, some 6,000 credentialed media can now stop staring at a chimney and get back home to blow their own smoke.

  13. What a beautiful story Keith. Thank you for sharing it with us. May God’s grace and blessings be with you all.

    Hebrews 13:2

  14. Thought for the day. We are having a celebratory day and in keeping with
    this let’s have forgiving thoughts and prayers. Especially for those who seem
    to diminish and demean this day for those who are Catholic. Thanks to all the
    wonderful people with beautiful souls who are generous enough celebrate
    with us and forgive those who decide to ruin the day with fault.

  15. Reading these post about ” heresy “, ” true Pope “, doctrine, abortion, true church and the conflict between faiths.
    Whew! Sure has his work cut out for him.
    May the Creator watch over and guide him.

    • I have this idea that when Judgement Day comes, all the religious leaders will ask God, “Lord, please tell them who was right in the form of worship.” Each expecting God to tell them they were right. God will laugh, an awesome laugh, and say “None of you were right. I said “Thou shalt not kill” and all of you killed in my name. To hell with ALL of you!!”

  16. Lovely commentary, Keith. Refreshing for those of us who are deeply tired of the emphasis on cynicsm about darn near everything and everybody. May God be with us all in the coming days.

  17. Thank you for writing such a wonderful post about the new Pope. I hope he inspires all people to love and respect each other. We need someone to lead us all through the dark evil that so permiates society today.

  18. Would someone tell the Holy Father what well-known “Catholics” such as Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, and John Kerry think about ALL the Papal encyclicals on abortion and homosexuality? Will you be publically disciplining these wayward members of YOUR church to keep them from leading OTHERS astray?

    Didn’t think so. The Church made it pretty clear it doesn’t care WHAT important politicians that call themselves “Catholics” do during the Kennedy administraton. Why actually enforce the Church’s teachings NOW?

  19. Obama COULD have stolen this election as well, but he doesn’t WANT to be Pope. Obama thinks that the Pope’s job is to report to and take instructions from Obama.

    After all, why be Pope when you ALREADY think you’re G_d?

    Might be, he fired Pope Benedict for insubordination? This one’s a LOT closer to him on so-called “social justice” issues…

  20. In learning more about the new Pope and his simple life of living in an apartment without all of the trappings of his status as a Cardinal, he really is the exact opposite of our President and his lavish parties and vacations!

    I hope the world sees that distinction!

  21. That Polish woman must have seen your beautiful spirit shining to have taken you home for some rest, Sir. Good call! Thank you for this lovely article ~ I can see that your spirit is shining still. All the years in Washington haven’t had the power to dim it.
    I pray for the new Pope and have great hopes for the future. I, too, am not Catholic and yet pray and hope with all people of good will today.
    Bless you, Sir.

  22. I was pumping gas when I heard on our local talk radio station (KTRH 740am) that the Pope had been chosen.

    When I was stationed in (then West) Germany, I remember John Paul II travelling to Poland, standing toe-to-toe with the ruthless Polish-Communist dictator and telling him, in his own tongue, that Roman Catholics had the right to worship their faith and there was nothing he could do to stop it. John Paul never wavered in his hatred of Communism, having lived under the heel of Marxism for most of his life, and ascended the Papacy, fully prepared for the fight, he knew would come.

    A retired State Department official told me several years ago, “that was the first crack in the Iron Curtain. We couldnt beleive it. John Paul was one of the best weapons the free world had to fight atheistic, worldwide, Communist terror.”

  23. Keith,

    It was nice to read your letter of congratulations! Unlike the other journalists covering the announcement who kept offering their personal insights on what a new pope must do, it was refreshing to read your simple letter of Congratulations and what Catholicism means to you personally. Wow, what a concept! Showing respect towards another man’s religious beliefs instead of condoning them.

    What a contrast between leaders of the world and Francis I. Living in a one room apartment, making his own meals, taking public transportation, actually working with prisoners and prostitutes. Versus another World Leader, who is more concerned with his Tee time with Tiger and what time Michelle’s jet pulls up to take the rest of the family to Vail, Martha’s Vineyard or Hawaii.

    Yet, which one does the NY Times tells what they should do in their official capacity?