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Sports fans have the Superbowl.  Movie fans have the Oscars.  Theological fans have the conclave.

Facebook, Twitter and the entire internet exploded with the news of white smoke billowing from the Vatican.  As indication of a new pope was selected, we exchanged comments on the historical news of the hour.  I’ve seen and engaged in many interesting online conversations March 13, 2013 regarding the selection of Pope Francis I.  Very few of the friends I was communicating with were Roman Catholic, but the excitement transcended religion.  This was history.

Now, I’ve heard how some Protestants think a selection of a new pope may not impact us.  There are many who may not realize how much Vatican II impacted relationships between Catholics and other faiths.  They may not know that post-Vatican II music that Catholics created (songs like “Here I Am, Lord” and “One Bread, One Body”) have brought much beauty into our congregations.  When a change happens within one part of Christianity, it can’t help but impact the rest of Christianity.

While it’s tough to talk about, when doctrinal decisions are made, it impacts us too.  Sometimes, this means we are on the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to an issue.  The power that the Church has in influencing politics can be wonderful if it’s something we agree upon or difficult if it’s a divisive issue.  We see things in different ways because we hold different sources of authority.  For instance, Scripture and tradition are huge in the Catholic church.  In many of our Protestant faiths, we have Scripture and tradition, but we also have reason and our own experiences.  So we often arrive at issues from opposite ends.

But never forget that we are all part of this one Body of Christ.

And that’s the other reason we should care.  We are all God’s children made in God’s image.  We are all part of the same vine.  So we do care what happens in your faith.  We care that you feel connected to your denomination.  We rejoice with you that you have a new pope.  We cry with you when you have scandals that plague your churches.  Because we are all part of the Body of Christ, our common work feeding, clothing and healing provides greater resources for the Kingdom of God.

Let us keep the faith together even when we take separate spiritual paths.

To my Catholic friends – may God bless your Church, your new Pope Francis I and your clergy and lay members.  May God find ways to bring us together on issues such as poverty, creating a world where all have dignity.  May God give us love to disagree with one another peacefully on divisive issues.  And may we walk together in times of joy and times of sadness.  Amen.