So it’s come to this. After two millennia of persecutions and executions, massacres and pogroms, false aspersions and forced conversions, inquisitions, disputations, book-burnings, blood libels, boycotts and curses; despite all the Pontiffs and prelates and priests who accused the Jews of killing Jesus, of emulating Judas, of kidnapping Christian kids, of sucking the lifeblood out of pious believers; notwithstanding the exploitation, the excommunication, the hypocrisy, the pomposity, the pedophilia, the pederasty, the cover-ups, the subjugation of women and the ongoing discrimination against gays and lesbians and what have you. Despite all the above and much, much more, I found myself humming this week, to Tevye’s tune, “If I were a Catholic, Yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum.” I realize it’s no great shame to be Jewish either, but for once, Catholic is better. I’m not talking forever here, just a few days, even 24 hours will do: We can call it Catholic for a Day. …If I were a Catholic, even for a day, I could claim Pope Francis as my own. I could say he was my captain, my role model, my inspiration. I would look benevolently at my fellow man and woman, believers and atheists alike, and say: this is the kind of spiritual shepherd that we Catholics have produced. What have you got to offer? And they, burning with envy, would mutter “There goes a Catholic” as I went on my way. I realize that Pope Francis has been conveying eternal and universal values, applicable to all races and creeds, but let’s not kid ourselves: for Catholics it’s been extra special. They’re on a roll like they haven’t been in years, perhaps even centuries. As the Pope led mass at New York’s St. Patrick Cathedral last week, I passed by several Manhattan churches, usually abandoned on weekdays, and witnessed the crowds chattering excitedly outside before they went in to pray. I am a strictly unreligious person, but I was keenly jealous of their joy, of their elation, of their enthusiasm, of their renewed self-confidence, sense of purpose and obvious pride. Even if you consider yourself a total rationalist and a complete agnostic, even if you view tales of divine interventions as nothing more than contrived poppycock, it’s hard to deny the clear cut evidence: This particular Bishop of Rome is nothing less than a grandmaster of modern miracles. Within a few short days, the almost octogenarian Argentinian prelate – whose English, I hope he forgives me, is barely decipherable – conquered Washington, neutered New York and flattened Philadelphia. He turned pretentious politicians into gushing groupies, morphed jaundiced journalists into babbling cheerleaders, turned the rich and famous and the high and mighty into frantic fans aching for the wave of his and or the glimpse of his eye.
Francis Effect: Jewish writer yearns to be Catholic for a day
Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 09/27/15
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