Two things I don’t quite understand about my fellow Americans: 1) why are so many people fascinated by British royalty and 2) why are so many people fascinated by the election of a Pope?

A news report partially answered my second question tonight … 25% of Americans are Catholic.  I didn’t know.  I grew up Catholic and that percentage in my hometown New Orleans is probably 50 to 75.  But I guess if a fourth of us are Catholic then at least a fourth of us would be interested in papal politics.  That kind of politics seems more important and less derisive than our politics.

I respect the right of my family and friends who are Catholic to believe in and practice their religion.  I don’t completely reject what I was taught but the ironies and contradictions I was exposed to in youth led me to seek other spiritual avenues.  I question everything, as I believe others should.  Most people who question their religious beliefs will find answers that confirm some or most of those beliefs.  They should not be afraid to ask the questions.  “Fear” of God is one of those things that make no sense to me.  Shouldn’t we ‘love’ God?  What’s fear got to do with it?
My first big questioning began in high school.  It was a Catholic, all boys school with a mandatory junior military program.  Our school uniforms were small sized official Marine greens.  My band uniform was Marine dress blue.  We had a few military classes.  In my head, this completely contradicts what we were taught in religion classes.

Another irony is that we were taught that Catholics were the only true religion.  Somehow we were above the rest, including all the other Christian religions.  Really?  Who says?  Show me the Bible passages that verify that.  Tell me that Lutherans aren’t going to heaven.  Prove to me that Methodists aren’t as Christian as the rest.  Show me where it says that Jews won’t get into heaven.  C’mon, Jesus was a Jew. 

Why can’t women be priests?  Why can’t priests get married?  Why was the Catholic chaplain I turned to in the Army when trying to get my conscientious objector status less supportive than the Methodist minister I met at the USO in San Antonio who told me about his denomination’s department set up with the sole purpose of helping people doing the same thing I was doing?

Back to the Pope … infallible?  Why and how?  He is a cardinal one day and an infallible Pope the next.  He didn’t get 100% of the vote.  Is he suddenly bestowed with these Godly powers?  Is the vote rigged by God?  And what about now, with a living retired Pope, a very rare occurrence.  Is the Pope Emeritus still infallible?  And what about those years/centuries when Popes waged wars and took mistresses?  Don’t say it didn’t happen … there is historical proof backing that up. 

Are you uncomfortable reading my questions?  Waiting for the lightning?

Back to the Pope Watch.  I do admit to paying some attention to it today, partly because it couldn’t be avoided.  I even watched CNN on line as the news was breaking and I was definitely curious about who would win the election.  Happy to see a non-European got it.  That is a rare moment of ‘dealing with present reality’.  Not happy to see it’s another homophobic old white guy who still thinks contraception is wrong. 

I do wish Pope Francis well.  My prayers aren’t prayers in the traditional sense but I will do my own version of praying for his well-being and success.  I don’t expect him to ever accept homosexuality or abortion (as religiously liberal and cynical as I am, I accept those things with some reluctance).  I do hope he looks at the real world and addresses one of the most important issues in Catholicism … sexual child abuse by priests.

I see another Pope story is on my TV.  Time to post this and change the channel.