Dear God, please keep the Pope from becoming a disappointment
Admission: I’m not catholic. I don’t think I’m Christian even. I’ve studied the major religions of the world today (and even some of the minor ones) and I found enough flaws and inconsistencies to keep me from throwing my lot in with any of them. Not that I’m saying I fault people who are religious or even just religiously-classifiable. My philosophy, instilled in me at an early age by a grandmother whose voice is my moral compass on most everything, is that to each his own, but keep to your own. If you have a personal faith that works for you, go with it with my blessing. Just realize that I don’t think a blessing particularly signifies anything beyond good will and best intentions.
That being said, I really like this Pope. More than like, I’m in complete awe of him. When you think of the qualities of the guy you want leading an organization whose guiding principle is “Do unto to others as you would have them do unto you,” he comes pretty close to ideal. Does he have some flaws? From my perspective, yes – but don’t we all? And while I have problems with the Catholic Church as a whole (don’t even get me started on the banality of REQUIRING men to abstain from what are natural and healthy relationships in order to be “men of faith”), I look to him as someone who embraces that same lesson my grandmother (who, coincidentally, is a Catholic) taught me. As cliche as it sounds, he restores my faith in humanity, in the hopes that men can achieve great things, have tremendous power, and still be kind, compassionate and humble.
But I’ve been here before, and I’m afraid to see it happen again.
I got on thinking on this topic in recent months in reflection of the Bill Cosby scandal. I’m a child of the 80s, and there are few parts of my childhood I remember with more fondness than the Cosby Show. It remains a centerpiece of my younger years, giving me an image of man who could be highly successful, an understanding father, a professional, a feminist, an educator, and so much more. It presented to me a contrary representation of African Americans than that which I learned living in the aegis of post-Industrial Detroit and from the attitudes of some whites who saw themselves as displaced and disenfranchised from the events of the 60s and 70s. Years later, it would become a show I could still sit down to watch with my own children and reflect on my childhood while using it as a basis for them to learn from some of its timeless lessons and laugh at family-friendly comedy.
When the first stories started to emerge about what Cosby was really like and what he had really done, I didn’t want to believe them. Yes, I understood that Healthcliff Huxtable was a fictional character, but I still believed as his creator, Bill Cosby must have those basic core values as part of himself. The more news that came out, the more hurt and confused I grew by my memories.
I know there’s a world of difference between Bill Cosby and Pope Francis, but I’m illustrating these two personalities because of the chasm between them. After all the scandals of the Catholic Church over the last twenty-five years, I need to know that something that has come from it to remind me that we must take each individual on his own merits and grant him the benefit of accepting the face he gives to use is his true face endures. Please, oh please, let this Pope remain true and consistent in his benevolence. Please, let just one leader be true to the tenets of his public actions with his private intent.