Today is Pope Francis’ Birthday. He came into to this world via an entry point in Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a note of interest, his parents were Mario José Bergoglio (1908–1959) and Regina María Sívori (1911–1981). And now, he is 82 years old. But I don’t want to get into all the little details about his life.
I notice him, because I was baptized Catholic. Well before I was actually making choices in my life. Most likely, I was a couple of weeks old. Heck, it would be a year or more until I had an actual choice in anything — probably between smooshed carrots, or squashed up peas. So, the Catholic thing was quite a surprise, what with the splashing of the water and all.
Of course, I didn’t mind it growing up. How could I? It was all I knew and all there was. It wasn’t until high school that I found out about other religions. And shortly thereafter, my older brothers and sisters made it apparently clear that I didn’t have to attend Mass (every day of my life), once I turned 18, and moved out of Mom & Dad’s home.
And that is the path I chose. Besides the occasional wedding, or funeral, I have not attended Catholic Mass since.
But, I keep an eye on the comings and going of the church. And I sure did notice once Pope Francis took the lead. The white smoke went up the stack about the same hour that my Dad left this earth, on March 13, 2013. And that Pope Frank. He immediately started doing some really good things. Changing policies. Showing compassion. And wide-spread acceptance. He was rock solid in his ways of kind and loving goodness. A Rock Star among Popes. And. You want to talk about “draining the swamp?” Now, there is someone who actually cleaned house. He got rid of a big-bunch of extravagant and indulgent members of the ranks. Cardinals, and Bishops. Knocked them right down into the burlap-bag-days.
Yet, there it was. The biggest and darkest thing of all. The years, and years, of ongoing sexual abuse and harassment of young (mostly) boys in the Catholic Church. Hundreds, and hundreds of accounts. From all over the world. And apparently, on some level, he was aware of these actions, and the cover-ups. There was no excuse for this. And never will be.
Most of this, came through in August of this year, I think. That is when Pope Francis begged for forgiveness in an unprecedented letter. In that letter, he said Catholic leaders were to blame. All of that came after the Pennsylvania findings. Where the grand jury report found more than 1,000 children were sexually abused by “predator priests” for decades.
But there is the bigger problem. There seems to be some underlying “knowledge” or “agreement” among the priests. And maybe the nuns. Some silent, unspoken current that winds through the entire system. That big broom, that keeps sweeping it under the rug. Until now. Now, I think there is exposure. Awareness. Consequences. I would say that things are changing, in the right direction. But I do not know that for sure.
It is the same situation with a lot of things. Like with guns in America. But guns, and their destruction, are more out in the open. Everyone sees the murders, the mass shootings, the deaths of our youth. But, it keeps getting swept, right under that same horrible rug. Everyone knows it will not change. The greedy (and fearful) clutches are too tight around the triggers. The killings will not stop. The blood money flows and is exchanged. And no matter how many marches, protests, and petitions arise, the guns continue to fire.
I sit here now, pondering these two things. Sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Deaths by Guns in the U.S. And then I can’t help but to recognize all the other criminality and wrongdoing on our planet. The discriminations, the genocides, the obliteration of our environment from our human-garbage brains.
And the all of it seems overwhelming. It is enormous and routing. What can “little me” — one out of seven billion — what can I do?
But every time I begin to think that way, my other belief-set steps in. My belief in the goodness. Whether it is true, or whether it is a mere measure of deceptive sanity, I have to believe in the good. That same Dad of mine — the one who passed away on the day Pope Francis was “sworn in” — always told me that goodness will prevail. He told me to do the right thing. Always. Simply because it is the right thing to do.
And that is where many of us start our every day. With the intention of goodness. And end our every night. With an inventory of our actions. And always, with the hope, that somehow, someway, we make a difference. Sometimes, in the face of the overwhelming, it is the best we can do.
“Every other knowledge is harmful to him who does not have knowledge of goodness.”
― Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays
“If your actions don’t live up to your words, you have nothing to say.”
― DaShanne Stokes
“I cannot do all the good that the world needs. But the world needs all the good that I can do.”
― Jana Stanfield