Had you asked me that question a week ago, I would have answered an unequivocal “no” or prepared for a riddle.  But, today, I am related…albeit by a circuitous route. And for me, it is more than a “small world story.” 
Institutional religion has played a minor role in my life.  When young, I asked my parents, “What religion am I?” My father would reply, “Protestant with a small p.” Today, I think of myself as a humanist who is spiritual and full of awe for Nature’s miracles. In addition, I’m intrigued by comparative religion, especially by rituals and celebrations that mark important transitions, be it the arrival of spring, the birth of a child or the election of a new Pope.

So, like many around the globe, I followed the Conclave in Rome. By chance, when the white smoke appeared, I was visiting the studios of Telemundo (the entertainment network based in Hialeah, Florida, that targets the Spanish-speaking market).  Even before Pope Francis was named, the mood was electric as the network’s teams awaited important news for their viewers. It was a privilege to be immersed in their anticipation…and fun.

Soon thereafter, an Argentine was pronounced the new leader of the world’s Catholics.  News coverage since then has been providing speculation and insight about how this choice might impact the Church.  The complete surprise has been its impact on me!

My immediate reaction was an unexpected feeling of personal celebration and sense of “belonging.” Given my religious (or perhaps I should say non-religious) leanings, I attribute this to the special place Argentine holds in my psyche (as my “second” country).

Nonetheless, I was not prepared to be related to Pope Francis. My stepdaughter’s mother-in-law is the first cousin of the Pope’s sister-in-law. Furthermore, if we ignore connections by marriage and simply use “degrees of separation,” I am just two steps away due to close Argentine friends!

“Small world” stories are common in our globalized world. I am not surprised that the “degrees of separation theory” works.   Yet, this connection with someone so prominent has moved me. Since going to Brazil, many diverse streams have joined the river that is my life. Being connected to the Pope is a wonderful reminder of all the lives that have touched mine. I like to think that my celebration embraces all of them…a little like his open arms above Saint Peter’s Square.


© Copyright  2013 by Bethe Lee Moulton



03/17/2013 12:38am

Love what you wrote!!!!!
Who would have imagined??

Bethe Lee
03/17/2013 12:12pm

Belonging to your family has been the source of many joys, but no one would have imagined a link to the Pope would be one of them.

David Moulton
03/17/2013 2:21am

I too had to ask my parents "what religion am I?" For me it happened in my senior year in high school when I was filling out applications to colleges. I got to the line that said "Religion" and I realized that I had no idea what to put in the blank.

Bethe Lee
03/17/2013 12:07pm

Have you read "Good Without Go"d by Greg Epstein? That book is a really helpful discussion of the value system of humanists. I recommend it for those who don't know what to "put in the blank." '

And, now through your link to me, you are linked to Pope Francis!

Bethe Lee
03/17/2013 12:09pm

Of course, the title of the book is "Good without God" (sorry about the typo)

03/17/2013 2:38am

Me gustan tus charlas de cafe.
Las leo siempre y me maravillo con cada una

Virginia Lenz
03/17/2013 12:53pm

Fascinating. We never know who we are connected with, however tenuously. I am a protestant with a P - Presbyterian and can claim no connection with Francis, but had a slight one with Bennedict. My husband was good friends while he was in the army with a fellow who became a priest after his military service. We visited with him in Germany years ago. Unfortunately, he died, but if he had lived he probably would have been at the Vatican with Benedict as they were very involved in the church in the same area from which Benedict came.

Bethe Lee
03/17/2013 7:49pm

Ginny, I enjoyed your story. It really is fun to see where the "degrees of separation" can carry us.

ellen ross ebersole
03/17/2013 4:52pm

I was sitting in my son's advisor's office at Regis Univ. in Denver when the news of the new Pope, a South American and a Jesuit, was ebulliantly announced by a student. I can still feel the excitement and anticipation of the Jesuit college community.

Regis is one of my new favorite places. What a surprise, given that I was raised a protestant and the extent of my current religious participation is Buddhist meditation. I believe it is about values.

So- this experience was one of the unexpected treats of driving my son back to school after shoulder surgery.

I will find Greg Epstein's book. It will help this mom and her adopted South American boys.

Bethe Lee
03/17/2013 7:48pm

Ellen, it was fun to learn about your "white smoke" experience and to know that you felt a similar thrill in an special environment. I do think you will find "Good without God" to be very insightful (and it will not conflict with Buddhist meditation).

Comments are closed.
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    The Author

    Bethe Lee Moulton brings a unique perspective to her writing, grounded in strong family roots and inspired by global experience.  Her career as an international strategist inspired her to write her award-winning novel, Until BrazilHer blog, The Cultures Within Café, is a place to share the challenges and joys and challenges of living in an ever-smaller world. Bethe divides her time between Boston, Buenos Aires, and Boca Raton, to be with her far-flung friends and family, spanning four generations, multiple cultures, and diverse worldviews.  



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