I know very little about this process that is unfolding in Rome. I am not a Catholic. I know very little about Christianity. My only real experience with Jesuits was my time at Georgetown and that was pretty decent. The only thing that got to me was the cross in each room. Felt strange taking biology in a room with a big crucifix on the wall.
In the United States, we tend to view most things from the prism of our interests. For me, that means American politics. It becomes easy to distill a religion — even one as old, global and diverse as this to a few topics. When I think of Catholicism, I think of sex scandals and their cover up, abortion, marriage equality and the lack of female priests. None of this is good. I forget the good work the church does around the globe. They care for the poor. They criticized the Paul Ryan budget for being too hard on the poor. They help people who need it.
Looking at this new pope, it might be easy to see him as being just like the old pope. Jorge Mario Bergoglio will be the first non-European pope in more than 120 years and the first Jesuit. Reports I have seen say that he is a “of the people.” They say he really cares about the poor. According to the New York Times:
He has a big job ahead of him, rehabilitating a church hurt by scandal after scandal will not be easy. Bringing it into the current century brings its own challenges as well (having a Twitter account is not enough). I am no Catholic so maybe I don’t have a dog in this fight but I am optimistic. I hope he succeeds.