So, let's be honest. I haven't been the most pious Catholic in recent years. I have views on quite a few issues that are in direct conflict with the Catholic Church. Since having children Matt and I have both struggled with what role the Church will have in our lives and the lives of our children. While we value the idea of "church" as creating a framework from which to teach morality to our children, we also feel that "The Church" teaches things that are not what we want to teach our children. We want our kids to grow up respecting and valuing men and women equally. We want them to celebrate and rejoice with gay and lesbian couples who choose to raise children. We want our kids to be open minded and to respect and value all human beings with whom they come in contact equally. And quite honestly, we haven't felt that the Catholic Church is the place to foster these values and beliefs. So, we've struggled.
Yes, we baptized Ryan and will soon baptize Zachary in the Catholic church. And why do we do this you ask, if we disagree so strongly with so many things the Church teaches? It is because we have hope that things can change. It is because we value Jesus as a truly Christian person and we believe that the core of what he taught is worth living and emulating on a daily basis (even if the Church doesn't necessarily always teach the same way I believe Jesus would have). And so, we don't want to rule out the presence of the Church in our children's lives. That is for them to decide when they are old enough to question the way we have been and continue to.
And so, today the Catholic Church elected a new Pope. A Pope who is the first Latin American Pope, and of greater significance for me, the first Jesuit Pope. I went to Boston College, a Jesuit Institution and there grew to love and respect the Jesuits. Professors who were Jesuits were not just teachers, but mentors and friends. They were and are people who challenged me to challenge my faith. They not only welcomed my questions, but they added to my questions about faith. They taught about and lived lives focused on Social Justice. They were inclusive and welcoming to people of all backgrounds, thoughts, ideas, faiths, and ways of life. During my years at Boston College I was truly proud to call myself Catholic because I was surrounded by people who emulated to me what being Catholic is all about.
And thus, as Pope Francis I was introduced to all of us today for the first time, I was hopeful. I pray that he will heed the teachings of his Jesuit roots. If he can lead the church in a way that even somewhat resembles the way the Jesuits I know live their lives, then the Catholic Church will be a better institution because of it.