Musings on Pope Francis’s Colombia trip, baseball, and churchmen

Crux | 9/5/2017 | Staff
aka1aka1 (Posted by) Level 4
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I’ve asserted many times, and I’ll say it again here, that what baseball is to sports, Catholicism is to religion. Both reward patience; both are obsessed with statistics, lore, and obscure rules; both are deeply traditional, yet constantly evolving; and both have been deeply tainted by scandal, yet proved remarkably resilient.

A further similarity is that both are global, and especially big in much of Latin America.

Argentina - Sept - Trip - Colombia

Interestingly, he’s still not going to his native Argentina. Instead, this Sept. 6-11 trip takes him to Colombia.

Colombia is also passionate about its baseball, and has produced some impressive big-leaguers in the States such as Orlando Cabrera, Jose Quintana, Edgar Renteria, and Ernesto Frieri. Right now, Julio Teheran, playing in the Atlanta Braves system, is considered one of the game’s hottest young prospects.

Francis - Week - List - Top - Five

Since Francis is headed there this week, I thought I’d offer my own personal list of the Top Five most important churchmen Colombia has ever produced, and then add some thoughts on which (non-Colombian) baseball player they most bring to my mind.

Still, maybe Francis will have at least a thought for these five famed Colombian clerics while he’s there.

Years - Luque - College - Cardinal - Equivalent

Dead now for almost sixty years, Luque broke what you might call the College of Cardinal’s rough equivalent of the “color barrier,” becoming the first-ever cleric from Colombia to claim the red hat, and, at the time, one of the very few from Latin America. He was also one of the founding fathers of CELAM, the Latin American Episcopal Conference, having been present at the inaugural meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Unlike Jackie Robinson, who went on to become an informal leader in the Civil Rights movement after his playing days were over, Luque’s politics leaned a bit to the right - or, perhaps better said, morally conservative and traditional. He once, for instance, petitioned...
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