I was raised by atheists, and when it comes to religion, I often joke that I’m a "lapsed Wiccan." However, I AM (officially, anyway) a Catholic, and I have high hopes for the new pope.
I never thought that Ratizinger was going to work out–he was too hidebound and rule-oriented. When he told the nuns to stop paying so much attention to the poor, that was the last straw for lots of us.
You ask yourself, why would the Catholic Church shield pedophile priests and completely ignore the suffering of the children they have attacked? The Archbishop of Durban, South Africa–Wilfrid Fox Napier–describes pedophilia as a psychological illness and not "a criminal condition," because these people were abused as children themselves, thus they are not criminally responsible for their actions in the same way as somebody "who chooses to do something like that."
While he’s essentially correct about the CAUSE of this affliction, he seems to assume that psychopaths have no ability to change or to curb their illicit "appetites." This doesn’t show much faith in God OR mankind.
I much prefer the observation of Peggy Noonan, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, who says that the new pope "has to confront the Scandals in a way that allows the world to believe they are over, that a corner has been turned and there will be no going back.
"When you open and clean a beautiful old mansion that hasn’t been cleaned in a long time, it will raise a lot of dust. But the dust isn’t new dirt; it is just proof that a cleaning is going on. The new pope shouldn’t fear making it all look worse. It hardly can."
In other words, "a new broom sweeps clean" (or it can, anyway). We’ll have to wait and see how much change is possible for such an old and moribund institution.