Is the Pope Catholic?

Just a little bit of follow-up to the election, this past week, of the first Pope Francis.

I liked him. When he came out onto the balcony, and smiled. He has a nice smile. He chose a good name. All in all, I'm about as pleased with his selection as a secular non-Catholic can possibly be. But then, I seem to have somewhat different criteria for a Pope than some of my left of the aisle colleagues. For one thing, I was not surprised to discover that he is, in fact, Catholic.

Having been created a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II, I would assume that he, along with a vast majority of the other Cardinals, also opposes abortion and gay marriage and that he is not very enthusiastic about divorce or contraception. As a matter of fact, there is so much that I take for granted about the upper reaches of the Catholic hierarchy that I was pleasantly surprised to discover that he adamantly chastised some parish priests for refusing to baptize the children of single mothers. In my view of the geologic pace of change in the Catholic clergy, that was a epoch-changer, a shift in the expected layers of belief as abrupt as that from sedimentary to igneous rock.

I am heartened by his concern for the poor, and am hoping that he is allowed to pursue that concern when and where he can. But I would suggest that we stop trying to get the Pope to climb aboard the Choice Train. Perhaps a focused campaign asking him to encourage parish priests in places overrun by HIV-AIDS to at least grant absolution, if not actual encouragement, for the use of condoms. Just another slow trickle of lava onto the Rock on which the Church was built.

In the meantime, I wish him well and will go on with my life as I see fit.