It’s amazing how the choice of one religion’s leader can still be a worldwide event. As I write this, congratulations and snarky comments are flying on Facebook over the election of Pope Francis I. Why do all of use non-Catholics care?
A few years ago, when Benedict XVI was elected, I was in the midst of the high school crucible known as AP European History, so I was happy to put everything I’d learned about Avignon and Ignatius of Loyola to work as a Pope watcher.
I guess there is an element of glamorous drama involved, the same thing that makes Americans want to watch the Royal wedding. After all, it’s not every day that they elect a new Pope.
This event was also unprecedented in many ways. Benedict XVI was the first Pope to step down with a waiting replacement in over 600 years, and his successor is the first Pope from the Americas and only the third Jesuit Pope.
The Pope is more than a celebrity, though, and maybe that’s why the election of a new Pope is still relevant to non-Catholics. After years of heinous scandals and the obvious hypocrisy of a primarily white European governing body ruling over an increasingly diverse religion, people want change.
These are matters that should be the concern of everyone, regardless of their religion. That’s what makes this more than a media spectacle.