When the news of the election of Pope Francis was announced, among the many dismayed commenters on Rorate Caeli and elsewhere there were one or two Anglicans reasoning along the lines of “I was thinking about conversion, but now that (put here your favourite peeve) I cannot see any reason for that”.
Well I cannot, either, then such a conversion would have been a very wrong one indeed. What some Protestants seem not to understand is that the conversion to Catholicism is not just like one of those change of denominations many Protestants seem not to have any problem with; rather, it is a definitive choice, and a choice dealing with absolutes that do not change with the Pope of the day.
To choose Catholicism means to believe and profess that there is only one Church, the one Christ founded on Peter and over which the gates of Hell will never prevail. It is a fundamental choice between Truth and Lie, Orthodoxy and Heresy, Right and Wrong. Whether the Pope is good or bad, liturgically savvy or challenged, a lover of beauty and tradition or a shocking philistine, or even orthodox or heretic is neither here nor there.
When a new Pope is elected, Catholics do not make a new decision whether they want to continue to be Catholic. They believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, not in one, pious, orthodox, and intelligent Pope. Popes come in the most various flavours; some of the flavours historically smelled awfully, and will undoubtedly continue to do so.
When one joins the Church he gets a deal for eternity, not a time contract valid until further notice. What is required from him is a commitment for life, not an approval based on contingent circumstances.
Popes come and go. The Church will stay forever.