Really, I don't give a hoot who becomes Pope.
Black smoke, white smoke, no smoke, makes no difference to me.
My children are all Catholic, but I'm sure if I polled them about the Pope, they would say, 'meh'.
The church has never been relevant to their lives.
Besides, I have a grudge against the Catholic Church and my own church for that matter.
And everybody knows I can hold a grudge a long time.
When I married to Mr. Big, I made the decision to raise my kids in his church, mainly because I didn't have a positive connection to my own church, the United Church.
I've always wanted a spiritual connection. When I was a little girl, I begged my mom to dress me up all pretty and take me to Sunday school so I could participate in Sunday School and learn about My Lord.
Mother was calloused about it all. She agreed to take me -- and dropped me off at the church door. Me, a six year old! I always felt sadness and raw nerves when going up the steps with my little purse with the fifty cents, but my heart began to soar as I listened to the choir and the hymns.
It filled me up.
But my mother's actions humiliated me. I felt a bit unloved every Sunday, sitting alone in the hard pew, worrying my little change purse.
Years, later, I asked her why she did this to me.
She explained that she stopped going to church after my father died because she couldn't afford the tithe and the church was relentless in the collection of it. So she avoided the church.
I was shocked.
What kind of Christians do that do a newly widowed woman with three little kids?
Because of what the parishioners did to my mom, I turned my back on the United Church, even though I buried my mother in its cemetery. Can't believe I did that.
In spite of this bad experience, I still wanted a connection to God. I thought I'd find it in the Catholic Church, with all its pomp and pageantry, its beautiful stained glass and ornate statutes.
The Catholic Church always seemed, well, romantic to me. Otherworldly, almost.
So when I married Big, I had my kids baptized Catholic and we often went to church.
My son Nick even made his first communion.
Things changed when Mr. Big decamped for the vagina of the White Witch of Bermuda.
I came face to face with the double standards of the Catholic culture.
Suddenly, I felt the cold stares from the other parents.
Someone complained to the Children's Aid about the lunches my kids took to school, which were made by my babysitter. I had to go in for an interview.
One day, I opened the mail to find a bill for $7,500 from the Ottawa Carleton Catholic School Board for "tuition".
It seems because I was not Catholic and I was now the ratepayer on my house, my children were ineligible to receive schooling in the Catholic system -- even though they were Cathlolic. If I wanted to keep them in school, I'd have to pay a king's ransom.
I was already devastated by my husband leaving me.
Now the school board, and by extension the church, was giving me the boot as well.
It was making me feel exactly like my mother had felt all those years ago.
I appealed to the priest who got the decision overturned, but by then it was too late.
The humilation was complete.
I hauled my kids out of that school and put them into public school.
And I have never darkened the door of a Catholic church, not even for a funeral or a wedding.
That was many years ago, and since then, I've heard all manner of disgusting charges leveled against priests and those who try to cover up their heinous crimes against children.
Even our own Canadian candidate for Pope has been cited for turning a blind eye to abuse in the Quebec Catholic Church.
And women continue to be subordinates in the church.
Their reproductive rights are ignored.
Those who serve the church have to do so under cloaks and submit to priests.
The Catholic Church also discriminates against gays who have had to fight tooth and nail to be recognized.
I am grateful to the Catholic Church for one thing.
It set me free to set my own example for my children.
So my kids believe in equality for all people.
They have also be taught to think for themselves.
And I've kept them away from pedophiles wearing who knows what under their robes.
I have one more thing to say, and I doubt I'll be struck down for saying it.
Hey Rome! Take your smoke and shove it.
We ain't prayin' with you no mo'.