It is, what it is...
...Yesterday, the College of Cardinals elected a new Pope. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI. While this was a joyous occasion in and of itself (the Roman Catholic Church had a new leader), it is the historical implications that are far more reaching.
For those who aren't Catholic, don't stop reading - thinking that the election of a new Pope doesn't affect you is hogwash. A new Pope will affect your life just as much as the election of a new US President does: he can make far reaching decisions that will affect the world, but in a different way than the President does. And the current President just got a very powerful ally in his way of thinking with the election of this new Pope.
I've read some of the new Pope's papers, and I've listened to some reactions to the whole thing and it all boils down to this: I fear for the state of the Roman Catholic Church. There have been so many who have left the church over the lack of change in some issues, even with progress in uniting with other religions in dialogue. I see even more people walking away now.
It's been a day and I've had some time to think about it. There's nothing we can do about the new man in charge, even though many of us had hope that is now dwindling away. As one of the commentators on a local talk radio station said: It is, what it is. And from that I think we will just have to wait and see what it becomes.
As Cardinal, the new Pope was in charge of doctrine - he made sure that there were no deviations to existing Law. As Cardinal (and prior to becoming Cardinal) he wrote some papers and made some statements that concerned Catholics around the world - about how other religions are not equal to Catholicism, about how Mass should be said in Latin, about how changes that were made in Vatican II were disturbing to him and should not have happened.
As Pope, he has the power, influence and ability to institute change. Many are hoping that he is indeed a "transitional" Pope that would have a short tenure and not be able to affect changes that everyone is fearing he will make, based on his past statements. I fear that if he does make these changes, those who are zealots about the Catholic faith will get even more demanding, and those who are on shaky ground will take this as an opportunity to leave the Church.
I've been Catholic my entire life, I know no else. And while I found dissatisfaction with Doctrine in my teen years, I didn't use that as an opportunity to leave the Church but instead to make my own peace with God. I realized that I didn't need to believe in a set of rules made by a committee - all I needed to do was Listen.
And so I did. I listened to my heart, and I listened to the wind, and I listened to whenever I felt like God was speaking to me, and I've found my own way. I've not done too badly either, but even with me following my heart, I still fear for far-reaching changes in the Church that could turn even more people away - and that they will be feeling lost for it because they will think that thier Church has abandoned them. The Church, in my opinion, has been doing what it wants to do for many years and now I'm sure that this will not change...
...and so, it is what it is.