It has been easy to get swept up in the excitement surrounding the selection of a new leader for the Catholic Church. Though Argentina, where the new pope, Pope Francis, comes from, is far away, he seems one of our own, a man of the Americas, the son of immigrants to this hemisphere, as well as an important, if perhaps indirect, voice and role model for a growing number of Spanish-speaking Catholic residents in the United States as a whole, as well as here on the East End.
At an installation Mass in Vatican City on Tuesday the new pope declared that the church must work to protect the poor, the weak, and the planet. In his homily, he said, “Let us be protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.” His was a message that all of us, whether religious or secular, can support.
As the head of a church that counts some 1.2 billion people as members, Pope Francis is in a unique position. His vast bully pulpit can be a force for great good in the world, and Catholics can be rightly proud of the direction their cardinals have chosen.