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Sunday, April 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 67.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
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Citizen Dave: Pope Francis gives us some hope for better days

Pope Francis
Pope Francis
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There's a lot of bad news in the world right now. Syria, government shut downs, flu season on the way, the Packers.

You don't usually look to the Catholic Church to be the bright spot in your day. For decades, ultra-conservative grumpy old guys have run the place. But they're under new management these days, and you have to like Pope Francis.

He's dropped some of the trappings of the office, living in more modest quarters, driving an old car. But what's more important he seems to be shifting the Church's message from a preoccupation with sex (homosexuality, abortion, contraception, embryonic stem cell research) to an emphasis on social justice.

As I've written before, it's not that I expect the Church to suddenly decide that abortion is alright; it's just that the Church could just as easily be emphasizing problems of income disparity, global poverty and other social justice issues. It chose to dwell on the conservative issues simply because it was led by politically conservative men.

But Francis somehow slipped through the College of Cardinals. It would be an interesting back-story to know if they understood where he might take the Church when they selected him.

In any event, Francis matters because the Catholic Church matters. It's huge, it's wealthy, and it's influential, especially in poorer parts of the world that need its help. It's not unfair to say that the Church has actually been a counterproductive force in the world for a long time. There's hope now that that will change. Anyway, this beats thinking about the Packers this week.

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