by Daniel Dominguez, ’16
The recent election of the new pope was greeted with great fanfare from around the world, as Catholics around the world waited to see who would replace the first pope to not leave the Vatican in a coffin in nearly 500 years. The announcement was received with great praise with millions celebrating Pope Francis’ poverty, humility and openness; a very different manner than that of the traditional and reserved Ratzinger of the previous eight years.
However, while millions clamor to attest to the personable qualities of the new Bishop of Rome, it is important to remember that the Pope is inheriting a church in turmoil which is in serious need of reform to rescue it from itself. The increasing disenfranchisement between Vatican dogma and popular culture is striking and has led to a phenomenon which I have observed increasingly in those around me and even in myself: so called “cultural Catholicism.” Millions of modern Catholics use contraception, support LGBT rights, in-vitro fertilization, abortion, and find the thought of child molestation horrifying yet millions still flock to church, sit at the pews, and put money in the collection bin; the simple reason being that they were raised Catholic.
Enthusiasm for the new Bishop of Rome has been perhaps most forthcoming from the millions of Latin Americans in the West who looked forward to the papal reign of the first Latin American Pope in the history of the Church. Having been raised in a Mexican-American Catholic household I understand the importance of the Catholic faith to the culture of many Latin American cultures and how difficult it is to go against those conventions. Continue reading