A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

After the Smoke Clears

Posted on: March 14, 2013

It’s been an interesting few weeks to be a Catholic, as the Church has been preparing for the selection of a new pope.

I was an Anglican the last time there was a conclave, so I didn’t pay that much attention to the media coverage.

This time, I’ve seen the political cartoons—including the one depicting the former Pope Benedict XVI working as a Walmart greeter and the one suggesting the pope would be chosen based on whose foot the shoe fit.

I’ve also watched a great deal of coverage on Salt + Light and read newspaper articles looking back at the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, talking about possible candidates to replace him, and outlining the issues the next pope would face—coverage which, as a relatively new Catholic, has helped me to better understand the conclave process.

I’ve appreciated seeing information about the conclave presented alongside other news, as though the media recognize that faith is an integral part of our daily lives and not something we wall off from other areas of life. Yet all this coverage of the conclave by secular media leaves me shaking my head in frustration.

Since the pope is the head of Vatican City and spiritual leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics (according to the Catholic News Service), the conclave has obviously been a major news item. But the media outlets covering the process are the same ones that tend to present the Church in a negative light—as though, on an average day, the scandals the Church is dealing with are the only aspect worth reporting on.

I’d like to see the Church receive press not only for major events such as the conclave, papal visits and World Youth Day but also for the work carried out each day by such organizations as these:

And then there’s parish support of worthy causes such as these:

Not to mention the work of countless individuals to meet the spiritual and other needs of their communities and to live out their faith by working for change at the local, provincial, national and international levels.

Now we know that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a Jesuit from Argentina, has been chosen to hold the See of Peter as Pope Francis. In Ottawa, Archbishop Prendergast will preside at a Mass for Pope Francis today at 12:15 p.m. at the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica.

Since the white smoke has risen from the Sistine Chapel, the bells have tolled, and “Habemus papam” (“We have a pope”) has been pronounced, the media will have much to say about our new Holy Father. But in the days to come, I pray that coverage of the Church would not return to the often negative status quo.

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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