Now I must say at the outset that I am not a Catholic. I am a member of a different sect of Christianity. We have much in common with Catholics. We believe in God the Eternal Father and in His Son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit (Ghost). We believe in Baptism, Conformation, the Last Supper and the partaking of the Sacrament. We believe in Bishops (although we differ in their responsibilities) prayer and in doing good to all men. While we disagree on how many of the Ordinances of the Gospel are done, we both believe they are essential to mans terrestrial happiness and his eternal progression. We have fought side by side on many social issues and worked side by side in disasters and we have prayed side by side at many dangerous and frightening times.
It was with great excitement and interest that I watched as a new Spiritual leader was chose in Rome. There was all the pomp and circumstance one would expect in the situation. As a student of history it was amazing to see and vicariously participate in a ceremony that has been occurring for centuries. While the pageantry was awesome it was the outcome that was so spectacular.
From all accounts the new Pope Francis I is an amazing man. Humble, hardworking, compassionate and dare I say humane. This as Peggy Noonan wrote in her latest opinion piece is something we as a people are not quite accustomed to. She points out we are accustomed to the snake oil salesman, the arrogant athlete, the entertainer and the polished political operative. Very few places can we find the “public servant”. Someone uninterested in leveraging their good works into a “deal”. We are encompassed about by reality that isn’t real, TV shows that purport to be the unvarnished account are indeed scripted for the ultimate emotional impact. Politicians who will say anything to get in office and then do nothing or worse do the bidding of those who have the most cash to redistribute. Worse yet is the wholesale exploitation of the poor, the disabled and the mentally ill by government and entertainment alike to advance everything from new drugs to gun control.
We as a people, went from expecting our leaders to actually lead us to expecting them to entitle us. We ask not what we can do for each other but what somebody is going to do for us. We have become so self absorbed, self centered and self obsessed that when confronted by a man who seems to think of others more often then himself, many just can not comprehend it. They will in the near future begin to look for things that will tear this man down, look for the flaws that we all have, look for reasons to denigrate and abuse this humble “Vicar of Christ”. I sincerely doubt they will find many. Francis I seems to be the type of Christian that understands the adage “hate the sin, love the sinner” and that religion is not a vehicle to promote the agenda of society, but a respite from the vicissitudes of life, a calm harbor in the stormy see of humanity. This humble Christlike man will make mistakes, will stumble and maybe even fall but because he understands that the Atonement is available to all will be able to pick himself up and continue on with the work he has been tasked with.
In the church to which I belong we too have a humble, compassionate, hardworking, humane leader. He travels the world assessing and learning about the needs of his flock and then returns and sets about making decisions to assist local leaders to help not only members of the church but all people willing to accept that help. I am sure in the coming months the President of the LDS church will seek an audience with the new pope as have other presidents over the years. I think both men will find they have much more in common then they have differences. Both want to build that brotherhood of which Francis spoke, both encourage care for the poor, indigent, unborn and elderly. Both act on the belief that marriage is a sacred ordinance ordained by God, and that the family is essential to the continued success of civilization.
God bless both of these good men and help us to support and sustain them as they attempt to bring some civility to what has become an increasing uncivil society.