Wednesday, March 20, 2013

SPLIT DECISION: Edelstein says the Pope still matters

I’m just naive enough to believe. Not in matters of faith, but in matters of the here and now.
And that’s why I’m just naive enough to believe the Pope still matters in this fractured age, just naive to believe one man can move a billion (or more) to be better people, just naive enough to believe Pope Francis matters.
Of course — has to be said — Jews and Catholics don’t have the best historical record, but I’m not concerned about the past. The past doesn’t get the benefit of being seen through my naive glasses. But the here and now? I’m down, baby. And I think given the right set of circumstances — and the right Pope — a better world is within reach.
The Pope, in short, can matter. A lot. After all, there are 1.2 billion Catholics in the world. We’re talking nearly 20 percent of all humanity. And the Pope is in charge. To use the parlance of our times, he’s da man. As the Pope goes, so goes the religion.
And Pope Francis seems to be going the right way.
“How I would like a church,” he said last week, “that is poor and is for the poor.”
He’s already walking the walk — literally — as he’s eschewed his predecessor’s red shoes for some old black shoes, doesn’t seem interested in wearing anything but a simple crucifix, and his headgear is of the pared-down aesthetic.
He’s the Pope, unplugged.
And so this where the Pope matters. He matters because he has the earthly power to try and make the world a better place. When you’ve got 1.2 billion people behind you, a lot of good can come of that.
And yes, the Catholic Church has many scars and open wounds right now, and I’m not attempting to sweep any of that under the rug.
All I’m saying is at the right place and right time, the Pope can wield an impressive amount of power. And a truly humble Pope, a Pope who is one of the people, a Pope who genuinely seems concerned with the state of day-to-day affairs of the common man? Well, that’s a power I can get behind.
At least I’m naive enough to believe so.
— Read Jeff Edelstein every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at, and



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