This past week the Catholic World, including many non-catholics, had their eyes fixed on the most famous chimney in the world. The anticipation and excitement of electing a new Pope was near, but nothing would be made clear until smoke came out of the chimney. After the 5th ballot was complete, white smoke finally rose to the heavens and the thousands of people waiting anxiously in St. Peter's Square cheered and cried, for their new religious leader had been chosen through an intense voting process, or like a lot of people celebrating said "God has chosen his new leader." There are 1.2 billion Catholics world wide on 6 continents, and last week the Conclave, made up of 115 Cardinals, elected Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Hailing from Argentina, he is the first non-European Pope elected which was a huge step in taking the Church into a new direction.
Since Pope Benedict XVI stepped down due to health issues, millions of people have been begging and praying for a "rebirth" of the Church. Change was inevitable, and with a hand full of current and past molestation cases, and concerns over money on various issues, there is an uproar in the Catholic community. Some women activists have been leading the charge to incorporate more female leaders within the body of Government. With the voting Cardinals only being men, women of the Church wanted a strong representation for their fellow sisters.
This past Wednesday my eyes were glued to the television watching the news live from Rome. As a Catholic this event has obvious importance to me, but I also took a step back and enjoyed the moment. Choosing a Pope doesn't happen every 4 years like a President, so from a historical context I was in awe. Seeing thousands of people waiting anxiously in St. Peter's Plaza to see white smoke is an incredible. There were people from all over the World in the Plaza and to me that speaks volume to the importance of one of the biggest global decisions that is ever made. I am a man of faith. I am not here to impose my Religion on you. But expressing my faith can help you understand where I come from. I am not here to impress anybody or doing this to win brownie points with God. For me it all begins with having Faith. I remember my high school football coach was interviewed on how he was able to keep together a diverse group of kids and create a tight knit group. We weren't the poorest of schools, or in the worse of neighborhoods, but a lot of the kids at my school didn't really have a faith or belief in something. Whether it was a dream, goal, purpose, higher power etc. We all may not be religious, but I truly do believe we have a faith in something. Whether it be your family, friends or a role model, we all posses this important quality.
The white smoke above symbolizes a rejuvenated faith that Catholicism is headed in a better direction. I am not proud of the Church's corrupt and horrible image that it has presented to the World, but it doesn't mean I am turning my back. We all get tested daily in our lives, and for me and many people our faith is no exception. When times are rough people either give up or strengthen their spirituality. That being said I hope Pope Francis is at the forefront of changing the image and making it better then it was before. There are already high hopes due to the history that was made on the cold chilly night in Rome. He was the first Pope elected on the 5th ballot in modern era, like I've mentioned before, he is the first non-europen Pope, and he is the first Cardinal to choose the name Francis. The reason this is so significant is because the Pope-elect chooses a name reflecting his actions and philosophy. Some people saw Francis as extreme because he is the Saint of all Saints, but it truly reflects his persona. Saint Francis was known as a humane, humble man; a man of and for the poor. He was simple but strong. And with money being one of the big issues today, it is satisfying that we have a Pope who personally has rejected the luxuries and has shown that we only need the necessities to live a healthy and happy life. (As the Archbishop of Argentina he cancelled his car service and lavishes meals, and decided to walk and take the bus to work every day). Being Hispanic is important because more than half of all Catholics in the World are Hispanic, and this is important to reaching out to the younger generations to work hard to modernize the Church, and make it more appealing for the younger people
So why share this with you? To be honest I don't know. I guess during the moment I was really moved by what I saw. Whether you support the cause or not, it was a moment in history that will always be remembered. Not everybody is an Obama fan, but his Inauguration Day for his first Presidency will be one of the most monumental moments in U.S. and World History. We see so much violence, hate and horrific things on t.v. and internet, and for those couple hours I didn't think of any of those things. My faith in the human race is very low due to what I hear and say, but from MY religious point of view we are all God's children so not having Faith is not the best thing. Just seeing all the different kinds of faces from all over the World in Rome shows me there is hope and faith, and it is a powerful image to see thousands wait and then cheer when a single individual we don't know walks out on the balcony wearing the white robes signifying his position in the Catholic church: The Pope!
For me it definitely was a moment of "Can I Live?" I live everyday with the love of my family and my faith with God. To me, those are the most important factors in life. What is/are your factors that allow you to "Live?"
Check out the links below talking about the interesting and important voting process in electing a Pope. Even if you're not religious, it is cool knowledge to know!