By way of disclosure, I need to start off with an admission that probably won’t surprise most readers, but may nevertheless come as a shock to a few.

I am not a Catholic.

I was not raised a Catholic, and have never been a member of that denomination.

I was raised in a good ol’ Scottish Presbyterian church which expressed a collective theology much more conservative than most denominations. I grew up in John Knox Presbyterian Church — a good, strong Calvinistic institution.

No drinking. No dancing. No movies.

A good confessional church.

I grew up in a church in which it was strongly suggested the Pope in Rome was the anti-Christ. Fortunately, I never bought into that silliness, and there certainly have been leaders of the Catholic Church who I admired.

John XXIII was an incredible personality. (A saint even!)

Thomas Merton was, and is one of my spiritual and literary guides.

Fr. Hans Kung is simply a stunning theologian

I have an icon of Saint Maximilian Kolbe on my wall at work, and humbly mark the feast day of Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, O.F.S., (May 21), each year.

Closer to home, I think Fr. Joe Fix is a compassionate and caring pastor. I consider him a friend.

Having said all that ....I have to admit — I like this Pope Francis!!!

He has really set some in the church establishment on guard. There are grumblings out of the Vatican. Even some of the Princes of the Church are disquieted.

American Cardinal Raymond Burke recently suggested there is a feeling in the pews that the Catholic Church is floundering “like a ship without a helm.”

Wow!!!

And then ... Australian Cardinal George Pell decided a recent sermon to the faithful would be a good opportunity to remind his more orthodox followers that “history has seen 37 false or antipopes.”

Kinda odd timing.

Nevertheless, despite some rather open criticism of His Holiness by the guys who should know him best ...I still like the Pope.

And I am absolutely giggly that this man, this theologian, openly gave God the respect due Him with a recent declaration that the Creator should not be viewed as “a magician with a magic wand ...”

Holy moly!!! (No pun intended.)

Pope Francis came out and flatly and publicly said that both evolution and the Big Bang theory are both facts of life and neither is incompatible with the church’s views on the origins of life.

Instead of continuing to pound on the “Earth is flat” theories, or the “Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs” silliness, the Pope basically said “Yep. There is a God and there is natural law. They both work.”

“When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so,” Pope Francis said

He continued while noting that God “... created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfillment.

“The Big Bang, which today we hold to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the intervention of the divine creator but, rather, requires it.

“Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”

The Pope’s views probably don’t satisfy many scientists because His Holiness still recognizes the Divine Spark in creation, but WOW! talk about a giant step forward, (or backward, depending on where you stand on the issue.)

I like this Pope.

While I may or may not agree with everything he says, he certainly is open to discussion of all sorts.

I wish the same could be said for the “young Earth creationists.”

No discussion there.