In the grand scheme of things, most of the issues that seem important to a particular generation fade with time, even as the things that are truly important remain so throughout the ages.
Thus, it isn't much of a surprise that people in Harford County feel strongly enough to turn out in substantial numbers in Bel Air to talk about a decision being made half a world away by people over whom they hold no sway.
The decision being considered that drew a crowd over the weekend at St. Margaret Catholic Church in Bel Air is that of who will be the next pope. Such are the traditions of the Catholic Church that those gathered in Bel Air – or in any other location – will not be the ones making the decision about who will replace the first pope in half a millennium to retire rather than die in office.
The decision about who will next lead the church isn't simply a matter of curiosity. As one of earth's oldest continuously operated entities, and one that holds a lot of sway over how people live their lives, it is a decision that will have substantial effects not only in Rome, but also in communities around the world, including Harford County.
The selection process this time around also has as a backdrop a seemingly endless parade of church-related sex scandals, not only in the U.S., but also in other countries. Unfortunately, public perception is the church leadership in Rome has not taken the problem seriously enough.
It is true that local Catholics have no official say over the prospects for who is next chosen to shepherd the church, or the degree to which that leader puts a priority on degenerate practices conducted by clergy members. It is, however, important to keep in mind that the church is a human enterprise of divine inspiration. As such, the intercessions of the faithful everywhere on earth – including Bel Air – have the potential to substantially affect what happens over the next few weeks in Rome, even if those making the decisions don't realize it.
As has been observed many a time, the Almighty works in mysterious ways.