Sunday, September 27, 2015

This Pope is Dope!

Pope Francis has had people reeling since he arrived on U.S. soil. He’s pushed love, forgiveness, decency, and climate change awareness,. He’s discussed corporate greed and economic inequality, calling out those who ignore the poorest among us. He’s reprimanded bishops who have swept pedophilia among their priests under the rug. He’s got some people saying he’s talking like a leftie, and others accusing him of being a socialist. Good for him. He’s just talking common sense stuff.
No, he hasn’t been perfect. He has not called for women to be allowed to become priests. No, he has not said that over-population is a serious problem and it’s time that Catholics worldwide embrace birth control. And no, he’s not come out pro-choice.
But he’s been on the money most of the time, and has shown great courage in not just being a religious leader, but a political leader as well.
On Sunday, he went one better, when he visited a prison in Philadelphia and immediately decried our prison system and any other prison system like ours. After embracing a prisoner, Francis called it, “painful when we see prison systems which are not concerned to care for wounds, to soothe pain, to offer new possibilities. It is painful when we see people who think that only others need to be cleansed, purified, and do not recognize that their weariness, pain and wounds are also the weariness, pain and wounds of society.”
That sentiment echoed what he told the U.S. Congress on Thursday, when he said: “just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.”
That’s the sort of courage every politician ought to have, but few do, and the sort of courage that great statesmen always have. Good for you, Pope Francis.


Bill Freimuth said...

Well, he's certainly the best in many years, but still represents the Catholic Church and its centuries of oppression and greed and its basic tenet that humans may only touch the divine by going through the church's intermediaries. I would think that you, of all people, Peter, would have huge issues with that.

Then he canonizes someone who made his way by enslaving and torturing Native Americans while obliterating their culture.

And he's got a lot of atoning to do for his capitulation, collusion and acquiescence during Argentina's Dirty War.

He's a little more free-thinking and tolerant than his immediate predecessors. He's no Ghandi. I, for one, am pretty dang tired of the praise and the press he's been receiving.

Peter Gorman said...

Bill: I agree with you. My point is not to cannonize the man. My point is that given his position, given that the church expects him to tow the line and just go and tell everyone that the Vatican bank is a good thing and that pedophilia doesn't really exist and all the other criminal lies, the fact that he's coming out and talking differently, starting conversations about bad things, including pedophilia, including the rottenness of the Vatican bank, including needing to be prayed for for his own sins--which I think would include the collusion/acquiescence in Argentina--that's a bold step for a man in that position. Right now, in the USA, when you talk about income inequality, the haves claim it's the have-nots fault and many of the have-nots won't take any responsibility. After his talk in congress, a billionaire came out and wrote an op-ed that said that when one of his friends asked him what he'd do first thing as president he responded: "I'd make you pay some fucking taxes!" Now that is a change. That's another billionaire (I think it was Ichan) who has been very privileged until now coming out on the heels of the pope's comments. Then Boehner quits, maybe because they were gunning for him, but since they didn't have the votes to unseat him, I think Boehner realized he's been living a lie as a Repub lapdog and will do a fast 180--pretty fast--and wind up- if you can believe it, a freaking liberal, fighting for liberal causes. I do not expect the church to change much. All of the priests and nuns and lay brothers I knew were freaking saints anyway, always feeding the poor, always buying small houses for poor people and having us altar boys go in and clean them up, lay new sheetrock and paint and then giving those houses, free, to the poor families in the neighborhoods. So those people, the average priests, nuns, brothers, don't need to change. They're doing the good work. It's the political arm of the church that needs to change, and I don't think that's Francis' job. If he can just get people to think about the golden rule, he might get some of the crazies in Africa, like Kony's men, most of whom were raised catholic, to stop committing atrocities. Wouldn't that be a step in the right direction. That's all I'm celebrating. I'm celebrating the courage of a man who was not expected to do any of this. He didn't need to. Pope's don't do anything, generally, much less write papal papers on being stewards of the planet and saying that all things have a spirit that we much acknowledge and honor. That's the catholic stuff I heard growing up: Don't pick that flower, just admire it and let it live. It's got it's own family and doesn't want to be killed... And now this guy is saying this stuff as the voice piece of the whole damned church--and even though I'm not part of that church, I can still admire courage. Which doesn't mean he has not screwed up and will not continue to screw up. To fix that he'd need to talk a while with you and me.

Bill Freimuth said...

Amen, brother. Clearly, you were raised by some of the good ones--and there are many, many good ones doing the best of the church's work all over the world, especially in the fight against poverty.

And I'm a big fan of Jesus. He was one of the all-time greats, and his message of love is the message most of us need to hear more than any other message.

The problem, of course, is when that message is misinterpreted and distorted for personal gain or to oppress native peoples, LGBT folks, and especially women. And the Catholic church has a long and storied history of that.

As to Francis, baby steps are better than no steps, but I'd prefer it if he stood up and said that contraception is a good thing (this would certainly help his environmental cred, since population growth is probably the very greatest pollutant/cause of global warning and environmental destruction), call off the missionary work that seeks to convert, give women positions of power within the church, deal harshly with the church's pedophiles and their protectors, and let people know that the real way to the love of Jesus is through their own hearts.

Tall order, I know.

Cuvtixo said...

But oh, what a bitter aftertaste the Kim Davis visit left! You're right of course about celebrating courage and not expecting too much. But did the two-faced backstab have to come so quickly on the heels of everything he did right on this visit? I'd like to agree with Bill and talk about Jesus as an all-time great, but moments like this give me pause and I wonder if Jesus actually existed. Maybe it's been a wholesale con from the start. Was his message really distorted or maybe it was fabricated from day one as part of a power grab? My thoughts turn very dark. I shouldn't let such a little thing pull me down into a vortex of cynicism, but I do.