Technically, I’m God Is Sometimes Great’s resident Catholic, but I think the fact that there are still only two writers on this blog makes that a little less interesting. But I do feel compelled to offer a few thoughts, observations, and instances in which i act a little too nitpicky:
1) Pope Francis is Pope Francis, not Pope Francis I. He will only be named Francis I if a successor becomes Francis II. Until then, it’s just Pope Francis. Sounds a little less regal than Benedict XVI or John XXIII, but maybe its simplicity will wind up being a nice change in more ways than one.
2) Can we just establish right here and now that Pope Francis is not the “first non-European” Pope? I hate being That Guy, but Pope Gregory III (715-731) was born in Syria, and a few of the earlier popes hailed from the North African portion of the Roman Empire.
3) If you were surprised or disappointed that the new pontiff was doctrinally conservative on gay marriage and abortion, you weren’t paying attention.
4) I mentioned this to Rob the other day, but I’m convinced that the sheer insanity of Conclave 2013 coverage was just spillover from Election Fever 2012, especially for those of us who were disappointed at how lopsided the Presidential election was. Except this time, there were no scientific polls, no public debates, and no campaign stops. That’s what struck me as so crazy about all of this press coverage. Journalists and writers were trying to make similar types of predictions and speculations, but had virtually nothing to actually work with.
5) I was confused as to whether Pope Francis’ namesake was Francis of Assisi, or St. Francis Xavier, a prominent Jesuit. As it turns out, it’s the former. John Allen Jr. notes that the name choice signifies “poverty, humility, simplicity and rebuilding the Catholic Church…The new pope is sending a signal that this will not be business as usual.” Whether that will actually happen remains to be seen, but I’m keeping my hopes up for the time being. By the way, if you follow Catholicism in the news and don’t yet follow John Allen Jr., you should.
6) Pope Francis’ odds ranged from 150-to-1 to 25-to-1, proving once again that the oddsmakers don’t really have anything to actually work off of. As one basketball columnist tweeted (yes, I’m mixing my interests here), “The new pope is the last announcement left that doesn’t get broken ahead of time on Twitter.” Also, there was no chance that Tim Dolan was going to be elected.
7) Francis was actually born to Italian immigrants, although he was born and raised in Argentina. Also, he has a master’s degree in Chemistry.
8) So far, I think the best parody to come out of this is College Humor’s observation that Pope Francis Kinda Looks Like George Bluth.
The last ten hours of papal news have been exhausting to comb through, because along with conclave coverage comes every other conversation about Vatican doctrine. “Did you hear about the new pope?” “Yeah. Man, doesn’t it suck that the church is still so backwards on issues X, Y, and Z?” It’s like every possible debate on Catholicism has been crammed into today’s news cycle. I think it might be a good idea for me to get off Twitter for a day or two.
We’ll hopefully have more on this in the coming days (plus, an upcoming podcast on religion in video games!), but for now I think I need to take a break.