Dan Smith: Catholics seem to have the right man for the time

Mar. 24, 2013 @ 11:04 PM

Finally, the white smoke was bellowing. Cheers went up around St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City. Celebration sounded the world over when they heard that the white smoke was visible.

A new Pope had been elected.

I am not Catholic and never will be. I am of a Christian. I’m not praising the Catholic Church or condemning it. I am simply telling what I saw on TV and heard on the radio concerning a ritual that happens to bring a new leader to that particular faith.

I have always been fascinated by the pomp and circumstance of this church and have attended many Catholic services throughout the years. I don’t believe many of the articles of faith they do. People are going to believe what they want to by making up their own minds.

Cardinal Jorge Mario Beregoglio is the new Catholic leader. He is the first pontiff from the Americas. He is the first South American Pope, where the largest concentration of Catholics in the world lives. He is the first Jesuit Pope. He is the first Pope to take the name of Francis.

The first tweet from the Papal account on Twitter @pontifexafter Francis was chosen.”HABEMUS PAPAM FRANCISCUM,” which translates to “we have Pope Francis.”

Catholics are hopeful that he will lead them out of the difficulties they have been going through over the past several years with the horrendous scandals. He has quickly asserted himself as a man who has led a simple life without all the fancy trimmings one would expect from a man in his position.

He has foregone the expensive limos in favor of a bus ride in his own country of Argentina and lived in a downtown room heated by a small stove. He even cooked his own meals.

He was born in 1936 to Italian immigrant parents in Buenos Aires, and in his early 30s was ordained in the Jesuit Order. His education was at San Miguel. He received a licentiate in philosophy. He was ordained as a Jesuit on Dec. 13, 1969. He is fluent in Spanish, Italian and German.

As the Cardinals prepared to vote for the right choice, the people filled St. Peter’s Square to a number of around 200,000. They waited in the rain and wind to show their support for their next leader.

I heard interviews from many news organizations, of which I constantly monitor, and listened to what people were saying about this event. Most were positive that the right man, and one who would take them in the right direction would emerge.

On the liberal side, I heard some say that the new pope must change with a changing world to meet the needs of the people. I don’t know where they are coming from, but the church need not change to suit the people, but rather the people need to change to meet a timeless Christ who has already come upon the scene to change us into His image.

The new pope will stress his anti-abortion stance, which I agree with. Abortion is probabaly the greatest sin of our time, as we nonchalantly go about this evil practice with no remorse.

Turning the young people around to make them understand their righful role in society is very important if we are going to make our world a better place. We are, at present, losing them. Helping the poor is a neverending mission in our world today.

They need more than a handout, they need a hand up. Show them how to get back their dignity to be able to fend for themselves.

I, for one, hope Pope Francis is able to do the things that will make the church a better organization that will make a difference in lives in a positive way. I hope Pope Francis has good health, seeing he has only one lung and is already 76 years old.

I wish only the best for anyone who is truly trying to follow the Lord.

— Dan M. Smith is a Cincinnati native and Gatlinburg resident. He is the author of two novels. His son is serving in the Air Force. E-mail to dan0729@yahoo.com.