The world paused this week, or at least the 17 percent of humans who claim to be faithful Roman Catholics did, to welcome a new pope to lead that church.
It is a good thing to pause from time to time for such occasions to recall that some truths are eternal, that in spite of what passes for “conventional wisdom” from modern sophisticates, tried and true ways exist to live a satisfying life.
If the new leader, Pope Francis, can convince more people of this, his ministry will be termed a success.
As the longtime archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis was known for denying himself earthly luxuries, and chastising fellow church officials for forgetting that Jesus Christ bathed with lepers and ate with prostitutes.
Too many sophisticates think it is sufficient to throw money at a problem — in some cases other people’s money — without becoming actively engaged in alleviating the world’s misery. Reportedly this pope believes social outreach, not matters of doctrine, are the core business of the church. He may well challenge the world in ways it hasn’t been confronted in a while.
In a world where we seemingly spend way too much time devising new ways to hate and kill each other, the naming of this reportedly humble man to the papacy, the first pope from South America, reminds us that the greatest satisfactions come from helping others, that faith can take us through the dark times in life and that the only way to be loved is to love others.
Pope Francis has a number of challenges before him, including the infiltration of pedophiles into the clergy, which has shaken the faith of so many seeking salvation through that church. What’s more, we live in a time when science is uncovering the mysteries of the universe at an accelerating pace.
And yet, religion persists and it does not take much to see why. Ask yourself “Why does the world exist?” or “Where did the universe come from?” It is because such mysteries exist and undoubtedly will persist far longer than humans can debate them, that so many believe something more exists beyond our physical environment.
In the naming of a new pope, we are reminded that even the most humble among us has worth; that the greatest satisfactions in life come from the spiritual, not the material world; and that, even though social fads come and go, the permanence of natural law will prevail.