The Catholic Church has a new Pope. Pope Francis, formerly Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was voted in and took office while the entire world waited for the smoke to rise from the cathedral. He follows on the heals of Pope Benedict and what some know to be a very "conservative" shift in the Diocese.
Francis has been chosen to not just lead the largest Christian denomination in the world, he also has inherited a plethora of problems and scandals. Most notorious is the child molestation cover-ups across the US. Such accusations and proven deceit from the most high of Catholic leadership have caused a rift in the church. Catholicism is losing its hold around the world, especially in the USA.
Time Magazine reports that 24% of the US population claims Catholicism, while places like Peru and Mexico and still going strong at 81%-85%. It makes sense that the inauguration of a new Pope would be mostly overlooked in a country that is has protestants roots, but should protestants care?
The problem with Christians outside of the Catholic Church is that they think, because their church is non-denominational, the Pope doesn't matter, but he does. For example, it would shock most Christians to know that Pope Benedict reinstituted indulgences. What does that mean? New York Times writer, Paul Vitello, explains...
"According to church teaching, even after sinners are absolved in the confessional and say their Our Fathers or Hail Marys as penance, they still face punishment after death, in Purgatory, before they can enter heaven. In exchange for certain prayers, devotions or pilgrimages in special years, a Catholic can receive an indulgence, which reduces or erases that punishment instantly, with no formal ceremony or sacrament." http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/10/nyregion/10indulgence.html?pagewanted=...
The problem is that such a view opens up the ability for people to earn their way into heaven. So what? We must realize that every time the Catholic Church hides a child molester or encourages salvation through work, all of Christianity suffers. "Christians" are lumped into the church called, "Catholic." Ask the average person who perpetrated the crusades. They will more than likely proclaim, "Christians!"
This pope is new and intriguing. He has the potential to change things up, but he is in the odd situation of living along side of the former "Christ on Earth." Just weeks ago, Pope Benedict, was the head of the church, God's mouthpiece, now that mouthpiece is living with the new head, Pope Francis, and as we know anything with two heads is a freak.
Our prayers should go out to Pope Francis and his efforts to hopefully correct the church's deceptive history. Regardless of your opinion of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has his work cut out for him.