Let me finish tonight with this.
A sixth of our country is now of Hispanic background. One in six and growing. Imagine the enhanced dignity they must feel today after what happened late yesterday in Rome.
The election of Pope Francis is something so new it may take a while to get our heads around it. It won’t take that long for the people out there who come from Latin American backgrounds. The Cubans and Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans and all the people here from Central America and the Caribbean must be thrilled.
The cardinal from Buenos Aires came as quite a surprise last night. He wasn’t a frontrunner, wasn’t even mentioned by those who give the names of possible popes to the newspapers. My sense is that he will be very off-beat from what we’re used to in politics in this country. Usually you hear someone say, “I’m a liberal on social issues, conservative on economic ones.”
Pope Francis is just the opposite: he’s conservative on issues like marriage equality, but progressive on matters like poverty and economic justice. He’s like some old-style Democrats who are pro-life but solid on health care for the poor, protection of the minimum wage. You know, sort of like Pennsylvania’s former governor Bob Casey.
So get ready for a pope who will be the perfect leader on the old progressive issues dear to Dorothy Day and Tip O’Neill, and more conservative when it comes to matters of sex—maybe that’s the best we can do.