Now comes Pope Francis, a man in his late seventies, toppling one tradition (er, sacred rite) after another. I’d say His Holiness is having a helluva good time, though he seems likely to do away with that title.

He clearly prefers the faithful to the mummi%uFB01ed members of the Curia. Part of me worries that they could be plotting to poison him. The other part of me pictures him dismissing them from a meeting and giving them the one-%uFB01ngered salute as they exit.

Time Magazine named him Person of the Year, citing his enormous popularity with Catholics, but I think Francis rates almost as high with atheists. I’m going to call them non-believers because “atheist” is such an unfriendly word. It suggests angry people with bits of foam around their mouths railing against creches on public property, sort of like Christians who demand that we say Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays.

The truth is that most non-believers I know, myself included, are sort of indifferent to religion, but of course I live in one of the most liberal towns in one of the most liberal states in what I used to think was one of the most liberal countries.

Some of us came to our state of non-belief after a childhood steeped in religion; others were raised by nonbelievers. In my case, the Church was the most beautiful thing in my childhood, a real source of beauty and comfort. Unfortunately, as George Carlin said in his hilarious “I Used to Be An Irish Catholic,” some of the Catholic schools were too good. They taught us to think.

Non-believers do get pissed off at the crazies in all the world religions who demonize other races and religions, prefer war to education, and try to make people have unwanted babies. For starters.

Every non-believer I’ve talked to is happy about the new Pope. Though puzzled, we realize the power of the Church and the possibilities of using that power for good rather than self-preservation.

A few are unhappy that he’s not moving to ordain women and not budging on birth control/abortion. But he did say the Church should stop obsessing about sex. God, I wish I had been a %uFB02y on the wall when he delivered himself of that statement. Did the acolytes have to pass out nitroglycerine pills?

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Mary Kay O'Grady

Mary Kay O'Grady is a former high school English teacher and later owned her own public relations business, The O'Grady Group. She has lived in Oak Park for almost fifteen years. She is currently the chairperson...