You don’t have to be Catholic…

I find myself saying, “I’m not Catholic anymore, but…”, except I don’t have to. I respect the Pope on a celebrity level, he’s the leader of the smallest country in the world and an American could have a chance at the office just as easily as anyone else. If presidents and heads-of-state from all over can flock to Vatican City for the installation of a new Pope, why can’t I, a Pagan, be excited and fascinated?

This is the third Pope of my lifetime and the eighth for my (Catholic) father. (He was born seven years before the death of Pius XII and has also seen the reigns of John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul I. I, on the other hand, was born eight years into John Paul II’s reign, so until 2005, JP2 was the only Pope I’d ever known.) When I went to World Youth Days¹ 2002, my friends said, “Why are you going? You’re Wiccan.” But I made a promise to myself when I was a young girl that if I ever had a chance to go, I would. It didn’t matter that I was sixteen and long past thoughts of the Catholic church (despite having to go each Sunday until after graduation)…I wanted to go! And really, it doesn’t matter what your beliefs are–the crowd for the final mass is always huge² and electrifying. If you don’t feel the energy, you must be dead inside!

I don’t remember this much excitement in 2005. I swear I watched the news and read the paper, just like I do now, but I do not remember almost-daily articles in the Lansing State Journal and periodic reports on television. CBS even had Randall Pinkston reporting from Vatican City today at noon! Maybe it was because Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was a surefire pick for the pontificate and the cardinals are not so sure this time around. Personally, I would love to see Timothy Cardinal Dolan or Sean Cardinal O’Malley rise to the white. Hell, I’m not picky…even a Canadian cardinal would be a good get in my book! But an American cardinal would be a cause for dancing in the streets! (My second/third choice would be a cardinal from Central or South America.)


Things that Stick Out About the American Candidates

  • Tim pretended to celebrate mass as a child. (Wow…that’s so nerdy I can hardly stand it! *giggle*)
  • Tim has published eight books, the latest in 2009. (High marks from the novelista on that one!)
  • Sean has a blog. At the blog’s inauguration on September 19, 2006, he was the first cardinal to have one. He’s also had a podcast since Christmas that year.³
  • Tim is the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
  • Tim became a cardinal on January 6, 2012. (One day before my twenty-sixth birthday.)
  • Sean has been a cardinal since March 24, 2006.
  • Sean’s educational credits give me a nerdgasm. (*gigglefit*)
  • Sean has ministerial experience with Latinos.
  • Sean believes that the Democratic party has been too hard on pro-life people. (Going to WYDs made me turn pro-life, so I’m glad he came to our defense.)
  • Sean created a zero-tolerance policy for the sexual abuse cases he worked with. He reportedly settled one hundred and one.

The “Not Cool” List

  • Tim bribed sexually abusive priests with payments of 20k (each) to get them to resign.
  • Tim did not approve of the president’s health and human services mandate. (Although I suppose he ameliorated the issue a little by saying that the revised version was a step in the right direction.)


My Conclusion

I feel like the Wikipedia article on Sean wasn’t quite as extensive as the one on Tim, so I’m not sure how easily I can make a decision. However, based on what I read, I believe Sean Cardinal O’Malley is my American candidate of choice. The fact that he has a blog and a podcast shows that he’s in touch with today’s young Catholics, while the charitable work highlighted in his article made me feel good about his potential decisions regarding the future of the Catholic church as a whole. I love that his education and linguistic abilities make it easy for him to focus on a “Latino-centric” ministry; especially given that Catholicism–long practiced among those of Spanish descent–is on the rise amongst Latinos.

Besides gay and female rights (which will take a long time for the church to deal with, if ever), the sex scandal is a big issue with me. The “repression/celibacy is too much” claim aside (and I can’t say I argue with it), how each cardinal deals with problem (and has dealt with it in the past) goes a long way toward coloring each candidate for me. The fact that Tim bribed priests to resign (even though he claimed it wasn’t a bribe) is a huge black mark in my book. The zero tolerance policy adopted by Sean is probably the best remedy for the scandal. I can’t necessarily say that Sean’s policy should be the rule for all of the abuse cases, since I am woefully undereducated in that issue, but it should certainly be considered by those with the most knowledge of the situation.




¹ Technically “World Youth Day”, on a set Sunday each year. But in my opinion, if it’s not plural, what do you call the days leading up to it? That’s why I always pluralize.

² At the time, I heard one million people were present for the final mass. However, Wikipedia reports 850k. Either way, it’s still the biggest crowd I’ve ever been in…and the worst trouble I’ve ever had getting to a porta-potty! This year’s celebration will be held in Rio from July 23-28. (You can find more about my year here. If you want to hear my memories, use the Disqus comment form below or hit me up on Twitter!)

³ This is a very good thing. If he’s promoted, I have little doubt that he’ll make great use of the papal Twitter account, which will make him the shining light of young Catholics everywhere.


Something I Learned While Writing this Blog: With the presence of 850,000 people, Downsview Park (a retired Canadian air force base) was temporarily the fourth biggest city in Canada. HOLY SHIT! (Pardon the pun!)

2 responses

  1. This is definitely interesting to watch, especially as a non-Catholic who was raised by a Catholic grandmother and semi-Catholic aunt and who had a very Catholic best friend growing up. (I was incredibly jealous of people who got to go to Toronto in 2002 for WYD, by the way. It sounded amazing.)I can’t really weigh in on the difference in press coverage between 2005 and now, as I’ve changed my news consumption habits in the intervening years. I will say, however, that it is a lot easier to find information on the papabile this time around.I tend to agree with your pick for the best American for the job, based on what I know of the American cardinals. While I think O’Malley would be the better pick, I also think that Dolan would be more likely, but still a long shot. However, I also tend to think Cardinal Wuerl has a point when he says that an American pope is unlikely and wouldn’t be viewed favorably by much of the rest of the world since the US is more or less a self-appointed global police officer and the pope does have a political job, which could lead other countries into thinking that there is to much American influence. Would it be cool if we ended up with an American pope? Definitely. Do I think it is very likely? Not really. I’m currently keeping an eye on Cardinal Scola (Italy), Cardinal Scherer (Brazil), Cardinal Turkson (Ghana), and Cardinal Ouellet (Canada).

    12 Mar 2013 at 1:03 am

  2. @Provence1385 – Keep me updated, will you? I’d like to nerd along. ;)As for WYD, Teresa, Elisabeth and I weren’t properly prepared for the weekend, so we only had sleeping bags on the hard ground…and no tent, tarp or other coverage when it started raining! UGH! (And it took forever to get to the bathroom! I think it was purely by the grace of the Powers That Be that I didn’t pee my pants!) But there are definite memories…especially given that that was JP2’s final celebration. Watching B16 leave on the helicopter and arrive at the villa made me think of the crowd chanting “Giovanni Paulo!” every time the Pope prepared to speak. 😀

    12 Mar 2013 at 1:11 am