by: Christopher Rockwell
Pope Francis’s increasingly benevolent actions thaw the mindset of a fervent non-believer…..
And I am by no means a religious man. Quite the contrary I assure you. It’s just this guy seems to epitomize everything that you would hope the leader of a flourishing religious sect should be. Frankly, I am floored, and it certainly has been some time since I have been awed by something the Catholic Church has done – well, positively anyways.
When word found me that the Pope was moonlighting as some sort of super-hero in the wee hours of the night it became clear we were dealing with a Pope divergent of anything we have seen. What’s that? Oh, you haven’t heard about this? Well, there is word leaking from Swiss Guards who have witnessed Pope Francis leaving the Vatican after nightfall dressed as a regular priest. His mission, under the cloak of night, disguised as a mere minister of faith, is to meet with the homeless, to feed them, and to spend time with them, eating and conversing. Amazing.
I can see it now. Pope Francis in his secret underground lair deep within the hollows of the Vatican. Within these chambered walls he seeks out with state-of-the-art technology those in need. Awaiting the moment when the night sky comes ablaze with the Pope-Signal – a projected cross blazing across the heavens, calling Super-Pope to those desperately in need. Quickly, he vaults into action, disrobing the gaudy wears of the leader of the Catholic Church in favor of a different uniform, something more meek and ordinary, something to help him blend in. He then scurries off into the night in his equally surreptitious, yet cutting-edge, Popemobile to assist those in need. Pope Francis, the true White Knight, the champion of the poor and homeless.
Yes, this Pope is different. A freak even. It’s almost as if the Papal Conclave made some sort of mistake in his election – allowing someone who actually cares deeply about humanity to hold the reins. Whispers now ricochet around the Vatican’s marble domed ceilings no doubt: What have we done? He’s ruining everything! He actually cares…..about people!
For generations the Catholic Church, it seems, has been hell-bent on waging war, rather than furthering the well being of its constituents and the unprivileged people of the world. A war on abortion, a war on gays, a war on contraception. A war on anything that its doctrine doesn’t specifically support. Apparently Pope Francis sees the ridiculousness in this. He realizes that this type of exclusionary and judgmental behavior is dangerous to dwell on. He understands it is damaging as a whole. He abides by the “teachings of the church,” of that there is no doubt, but he believes that insistently harping on these matters is crippling, and threatens to cause the “moral edifice of the church to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the gospel.”
And in this light, his take on homosexuals dares to do something nearly unimaginable – to catapult the Catholic Church’s way of thinking from the dark ages to the twenty-first century! An age where we are all in tune (or becoming so) with the fact that love is love. He states:
“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy.”
My god that is beautiful. Of course as progressive as this may be, with the talk of mercy this take favors some weird sort of tolerance rather than condemning the fact that it is completely absurd to judge one on whom their heart desires alone– but hell, lets take what we can get! It’s a start.
Honestly, I can’t get over this Pope. I find everything I read about him incredibly refreshing. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if this Pope actually doesn’t touch kids! He seems just that good. I mean Pope Francis even took time out of his undoubtedly busy schedule to reach out to the likes of me: the godless, those doomed to burn in the fiery pits of Hell. With the most pragmatic statement I have heard from a Pope (or from any politician rather –as that certainly is what the Pope is, right? Lets call a spade a spade!), this Super-Pope brazenly declared that Atheists could be just as good as Catholics if they “do good.” What a novel idea. Isn’t that what it’s really all supposed to be about – being a good person and helping others? And this Pope seems to get that. Unbelievable!
Wait, There’s more! A whole lot more! Dude actually went after the ills of capitalism. I shit you not. Releasing an 84-page exposition on the evils of consumerism and modern economics, Pope Francis chastised our current economic system demanding, “Money must serve, not rule!” He inferred that the culture of materialism “deadens us.” He slammed trickle-down economic theories, proclaiming that the current system of capitalism is set up so that “the powerful feed on the powerless,” and he even mentioned – the environment!1. This guy must be bonkers – speaking so rationally and humanistic.
This is radical stuff – for a Pope. And let us not us for a moment surmise this altruistic, sensible mindset is being swallowed up with zest by impassioned conservative Christians. There is a good chance these comments will have repercussions. One cannot expect conservative Christians to stand idly by accepting the new Pontiffs logical viewpoints as Gospel. This is in fact fairly dangerous behavior in a church whose war rages on against abortion, gay marriage, contraception, and the like. These have been the top public priorities of Catholic Bishops and Priests throughout the world for generations, and I do not see them relenting in the wake of some coherent thinking from the churches leader. Rumblings of denunciation are already proliferating. Recently, in response to Pope Francis’s objections to capitalism, perpetual blowhard Rush Limbaugh called the Pope’s comments Marxist, declaring, ”it’s sad because this Pope makes it very clear he doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to capitalism and socialism and so forth.” Also, one of the foremost Catholic Republican voices in America, Peggy Noonan, wrote, “Popes are sometimes geniuses, but not economists.”2 These type of responses only serve to marginalize Pope Francis’s benevolent actions and thoughts. Oh, how cute, it seems as if Peggy Noonan is saying, he cares about people, but, lets not get carried away and listen to him about economic matters. It begs me to wonder what Ms. Noonan thinks of the time he dared to wash the feet of two Muslim inmates as part of an Easter ritual. My guess is she finds that pretty darling as well3.
This new Pope is my type of guy. A man willing to criticize the church for putting dogma before love, and for prioritizing political posturing over serving the poor and marginalized. His vision of the church is one that is inclusive, a “home for all” – and although I will not be joining anytime soon, even with such an impressive leader at the helm, there are a whopping 1.2 BILLION Roman Catholics walking the globe. That is a tremendous amount of people, who finally have the opportunity to look up to a man who is following the true example of Jesus’ teachings. Nearly every religion does the same song and dance, teaching about love, tolerance, and peace. Yet, those fundamental and crucial ideals have sat on the back burner while the religion of hate and exclusion and politics boils foolishly away at the front of the stove. Pope Francis seems different, and only time will tell us if his forward thinking sensibilities will emanate to the masses that share his faith. With the numbers of Catholics only increasing, Pope Francis may be our only hope for change within a vital and broken organization. Up, Up, and away……
- “In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.” [↩]
- Even Sarah Palin weighed in! “He’s had some statements that to me sound kind of liberal, has taken me aback, has kind of surprised me.” [↩]
- Pope Francis also included two women in this Easter rite that the church he leads has previously insisted is reserved for men. In fact, his take on women in general is pretty liberal – well, for the church – as he recently was quoted as saying, “the role of a woman doesn’t end with being a mother and with housework.” Another innovative thought! [↩]