Riddle: What do Francis and Obama have in common?

Riddle: What do Francis and Obama have in common?

The first act of the new pope, a Jesuit from Argentina, was to take the name of St. Francis of Assisi, who according to Catholic tradition was told by the Lord, “Rebuild my Church!”

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, must believe his calling is to rebuild a church devastated by sexual and financial scandal. In a broader sense, the Catholic Church is emblematic of a 21st-century ill: the failure of social institutions to adapt to the times, and the public’s loss of faith in them.

One of those faltering institutions, of course, is the U.S. political system.The parallel between the Catholic Church and Washington leaped to my mind the other day while I read this sentence in The New York Timess outstanding analysis of papal politics:

“The next pontiff must unite an increasingly globalized church paralyzed by scandal and mismanagement under the spotlight in a fast-moving media age.”

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Let’s play Mad Libs with that sentence:For “church,” substitute the name of almost any U.S. institution and for “pontiff” substitute practically any institutional leader. For example:

“The next governor must unite an increasingly globalized state paralyzed by scandal and mismanagement under the spotlight in a fast-moving media age.”

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