There’s nothing like it.
There’s nothing even close to like it. The conclave, the election of the new Pope, Francis.
My anti-religious facebook friends admitted being transfixed by the Sistine Chapel smoke cam. They were watching the live feed just like the Catholics. They wanted to know who would be elected. The world waited as the suspense built.
Islam has nothing that can match it.
Nor does Protestantism.
Nor does Eastern Orthodoxy.
This is what full visible unity looks like. This is what the principle of unity looks like. One man, the Vicar of Christ, the successor of St. Peter, the rock on which Christ built His Church.
This is the Church with one billion members. Well, really 1.2 billion, but in the Catholic Church we round to the nearest billion.
In the previous weeks we were inundated with endless chatter of speculation. People asked me “who do you think will be pope?” I told them I had no idea. Not one idea. And now with Pope Francis, we see that no one else had any idea, either.
We get a poor man, of humble origins, who lives in solidarity with the poor. Someone overlooked by everyone. Just what the Church needs right now. Someone who lives the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
Some people heard it was a Jesuit and thought “oh, finally a ‘progressive’ pope!” Wrong. The Jesuits have been solid as a rock for centuries; they were the best of the best, the special forces of the Catholic Church. The past century has seen many of them go off the deep end. But it remains true that a good Jesuit priest can’t be topped. Solid as a rock. And now Pope Francis brings that holy strength to the papacy.
I, with you, eagerly await what this new pope will bring. God be praised, now and forever amen.