it's a bird! it's a plane! it's francis!

'habemus papam.'

two antiquated words rang through me as i was walking through manulife centre, bay-bloor radio. i stopped. ah, a new chapter, it arrived with vigor and sense of nice surprise.

i worked at a local catholic church from age 14-22.  as the main mass organist, my friday nights were spent with the choir and my sunday mornings were full of sleep and sermons, all at the same time.  it is hard to appreciate at that age, what such tradition may hold, especially if the event is closely linked with pocket money income!

i was raised as a catholic, baptised as soon as they could, as i was a preemie and no one wanted to see me run away to purgatory. my name cecilia was chosen by family friend nun at the local parish.  mom was active with the community and we always had church people in and out of the house.  my kindergarten was attached to the church and i went on a bus (couple stops), with two other boys, monday to friday.  as i walk past the sanctuary, apparently i always went in (and come out in a hurry), on way to the class and out of the class. the sisters asked me what i was doing. apparently i felt the compulsion to say 'hello jesus,' every time i passed by, as i felt as if he would be a friend.  a good one.

as i grew, i start to disagree (the first sign of aging haha) and attack the church system and policy.  this pushed me deep into bible study. if this is the word of the lord, what does it really say and why do we always fight about it? why does good things happen to bad people? what is 'to obey?'

and as the days went, i grew apart from the church. i disagree with some of their core policies- if i was strong and commited, i shouldve stayed in the church and seek to change, living up to the belief; after all, what jesus said was simple: love one another.

nowdays, im quite far from the church (psst dont tell my mom/granny)- however, this sudden resignation from the benedict xvi, with the world, i watched and followed.

see, the catholic church operates based on belief.  belief is one of the strongest powers in the world.  same power that allows the top-notch scientists to seek god-particle in CERN also powers these believers to completely override the time and space and practice a ritualized cannibalism, a communion, to elevate a simple 'mass' ritual to a spiritual ascend, a way to true freedom and happiness.

and because it operates on belief, often i feel that it's quite unfair for the rest of the 'logical' world to press for change.  if we need logic, we wont have to believe, and vice versa.

and this power within the group, unfortunately, have nurtured serious problems within/around the church- the sexual issues, euro-western-centric policies, etc.  but look, benedict XVI did stepped down.  what or how did it came to him, we will never truly know. however, i do understand such things are not only left to chances. from afar, all i can say is that a change is due.

the new pope is first of jesuits and non-european to take the helm of the church.  it may mean nothing ultimately, but i want to believe that this could be a good change.  there are already a few bashings happening about his conservative stance, however, the church is, in a weird sense, a freely-chosen membership system. and if they are the minority, it is not always fair for the majority to 'choose' for them and mold them (isnt that what we are trying to do with same-sex marriage anyway? for heteros to accept homosexuality? bah).

within the human history, there are many cases of changes- unexpected, shocking and unbelievable.  the bible is full of it in fact, remember paul on way to damascus? and the fact st. augustus was such a problem child that he turned his mother, monica, into a saint? ha! it does happen.

if one supports the new pope's present stance on life, keep an open mind.  if one disagrees, well, keep an open mind.  no one man is truly evil of sane (hence excluding sociopathic/psychopathic) and this man probably thought many things in life in many ways. after all, he is a jesuit.  but let's be aware that when standing against a bigotry, one may become a mirroring bigot oneself as well. of course, the church has made some grievous errors. but shouldnt condemnation be followed with hope and willingness to interact and change?  after all, this may be the man who can turn the church back to centre it with people.  a church is not a building, a church: ekklesia, is a combined word, of 'an assembly' and 'called-out ones.'  it is a living church, a believer, a group of believers.

if it is living, it will change and grow,
i am wishing that the church will bring people back, as people always was the centre of a good living churhc, faith, hope and kindness.  and to allow that, we must all do our parts to be true man among the others.  after all, his first address was to humbly ask 'all men and women of good will' to help him lead the catholic church. let us be good then.  let us beware of the evil and bigotry and the dangers of becoming bigots ourselves, and deliver us from evil, amen.

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