“And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome, which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood.”
Among the billions of people around the world who are not Catholics, many look upon the papal pomp and circumstance with a certain measure of curiosity ranging from the benign to the banal to the belligerent. The personality cult surrounding the pontiff is a strange enough, given the bland personalities required for such a storied and bound office, but even those who see nothing more than a bunch of old men playing dress-up might take a note about reverence. In tumultuous times that often seem devoid of solemn respect—well, that is the question, is it not?
Modern perceptions of religion are sharply caricaturized. One need not give over to religious belief in order to acknowledge that cynicism toward mystical fantasy need not include derision of ideas like sanctity and veneration. Perhaps this is a classic first world problem, a contrast that stands out clearly amid American affluence; we have the luxury of such discussions.
But the world needs next Medici pope only slightly less than the next Honey Boo Boo; there is only so much modernization critics of the Catholic Church can reasonably demand. Imagine Rick Santorum as pope.