This is a review of recent winners and losers, of saints and sinners, starting with the wonderfully impressive Pope Francis, the Argentine newly in the Vatican, himself as much a work of art as the paintings there by Michelangelo, or no, much more a work of art.
When he washed the feet of young prisoners on Maundy Thursday, as just one example, he radiated love you could feel halfway around the world.
To me, the selection of the pope was mainly an issue for Catholics, no kibitzing needed from an Episcopalian, though, in my mind, all Christians had reason to believe something big was at stake here. In so much of the world, the faith limps while in other parts the possibilities of still more growth are enormous, and the right pope could be both remedy and inspiration.
I feel that’s what we got in this humble man, more servant than master but still someone whose own relationship with holiness could make him a mighty voice for a mighty message of goodness and caring.
Now we come to a loser, Bill Maher, someone who once said the last pope had been a Nazi and described the church as a child-sex ring. He has also said the only reason priests don’t use birth control is that altar boys don’t get pregnant, and there’s much, much more, some of it worse, and I wonder whether, at nighttime, the TV comedian dons a white robe and joins with others in the Ku Klux Klan on missions of burning crosses in front yards.
Some may not know — does Maher know? — that the Klan, in addition to being anti-black, has also been anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic. I don’t believe Maher would burn crosses or lynch, but neither do I think the fact of his own former Catholicism somehow negates a bigoted, outspoken, decisively humorless viciousness as bad as some of the racism I’ve encountered in my life.