Dear Bishop Kurtz:
There are some moments in which the entire world seems to share. We have experienced such a moment in the election of Pope Francis. As the white smoke billowed above the Sistine Chapel, a spirit of celebration spread from Rome to Buenos Aires and all points in between and around the globe.
On behalf of the Kentucky Council of Churches, allow me to express the good wishes of the Body of Christ to our brothers and sisters of the Roman Catholic tradition on the opening of a new chapter in the Church’s long story.
At the same time, I am mindful that the importance of this event is not limited to our Roman Catholic friends, as the Pope’s influence can been felt across traditions in a way that very few others can. Shortly after the election, I happened to be talking with a Jewish neighbor, and our conversation soon turned to the events in Rome. Here we were, neither of us Roman Catholic, talking together at length about the importance of this election for Christians, Jews, Muslims, persons of various other religious traditions, and persons of no particular religious tradition. My neighbor and I both acknowledged the papacy as an office of potential benefit to the cause of peace, justice, and compassion for all people.
We pray God’s blessing to be upon Pope Francis and upon the leadership and people of the Roman Catholic Church throughout the world. We are especially grateful for our past, present, and future fellowship with our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters in the Commonwealth, and we look forward to celebrating this happy occasion with you when we are next together.
In the meantime, may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with Pope Francis, and with us all.
Michael L. Ward
President, Executive Board
Kentucky Council of Churches