Like many other atheists, I’m sure, I emitted a distinct air of indifference about all this pope selection business. I did think it was wise of the old guy to step down. Popin’ aint easy, ya know. And it is not like I could have had any influence whatsoever over the outcome of that conclave thing. Though I did think the @SistineSeagull thing was hilarious.
But in hindsight I find myself actually caring who becomes the next pope. Not because he is a spiritual leader. Not because he is the first non-European pope in eons. I care about who becomes pope because the man who assumes this position is given a very lofty soapbox. And what he uses that soapbox for can be really scary.
Will he use his soapbox to spread a message of love an tolerance? Will he use his soapbox to spread a message of respect and equality for women? When he dons that big white tiara, will he advocate for the freedom of homosexuals to live their lives as they see fit and experience love without persecution or violence?
Atheists should care about these things. The pope has a billion faithful (to some degree or other) hanging on his every word. And these Catholic people run our schools, sit in our government (though, thank goodness we got rid of that Santorum craziness), and work on our police forces. A pope that uses his pulpit to bully and demean atheists as confused, contemptuous children who have been duped by Satan is a detriment to us all.
Here’s hoping he uses that soapbox for something constructive.