I’m going to stay with the topical for this week’s Friday blog selection. Given that the big news this week is centered on the pope’s visit to the U.S., I’m throwing-in with that one for today.
There is the adage that religion and politics are deal-breakers for winning friends and influencing people, or something similar. Yet, both find their way into conversations, and they sure have hijacked our current news cycle. I think there’s a reason behind that, and I’ll spend some space delving into that aspect of “Pope Francis Goes to Washington.”
Did you know that Francis is only the fourth pope ever to visit our country? In fact, we were 189-years-old as a nation before Pope Paul VI dropped by in 1965. Since then, it was John Paul II in 1979, Pope Benedict XVI in 2008, and now, Francis. Actually, Pope John Paul II was a regular visitor, coming back for visits in 1984, 1987, 1993, 1995, and 1999. He always scheduled an audience with the sitting president when he came calling, too. The presidents visited were Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan (twice), and Bill Clinton (three times). Francis is the only pope to ever address the U.S. Congress, however.
In a bit of Patriots’ trivia, Tom Brady met Pope John Paul II briefly, on his visit to Rome in 2003, after winning his second Super Bowl ring. No word on whether the pontiff asked to kiss Brady’s championship hardware, or not.
The quarterback was asked the other day about that meeting and how Pope John Paul II ranked compared to his coach, Bill Belichick.
No dummy that Brady. He replied, “In Bill we trust. Are you kidding me?” Brady said while laughing.
The mainstream media (aka, “the driveby”) tends to care little about religion, save to bash religious types, especially those with conservative beliefs. I get it—we’re a post-Xian nation—or so we’ve been told, and there’s evidence to support that view, especially among millennials. So it would make sense that most journalists know little to nothing about religion and how to contextualize it, except in the usual binary fashion. They didn’t disappoint, at least from anything I read coming from the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, and a host of other mainstream sources.
The narrative offered by Pope Francis was strangely aligned with Democrats and President Obama, especially on economics and capitalism, tolerance/diversity, and climate change. In fact, atheist Bernie Sanders couldn’t say enough nice things about the leader of the world’s Catholics on Twitter. Ole’ Bernie seems to have an opinion on God and a take on the Bible these days, almost as often as he rails against the evils of capitalism.
There were a host of things the pope could have talked about, but chose not to. I guess he only had time enough to promote Marxist economics and lecture the U.S. on our treatment of immigrants, rather than address the Catholic molestation scandal, gay marriage, or religious edicts that the Church used to be quite clear about.
Does Pope Francis know that according to estimates from the 2013 ACS, the U.S. immigrant population stood at more than 41.3 million, or 13 percent, of the total U.S. population of 316.1 million? Legal immigrants and their U.S.-born children now number approximately 80 million persons, or one-quarter of the overall U.S. population. These numbers don’t include those here illegally.
It sure didn’t sound that way when he was speaking to Congress. In stressing “leniency,” the pope appealed to Americans to be welcoming to immigrants. It seems like the U.S. has been more than lenient. In fact his admonition was “rich” coming from the head of state of the Vatican—a government that has possibly the most restrictive immigration and citizenship policies of any nation in the world. If I wanted to be less charitable, I could say this smacked of hypocrisy on the pontiff’s part.
I might be premature in criticizing the pope. I mean, he is the Vicar of Christ, and all. Perhaps the Vatican is planning on accepting their fair share of Syrian refugees.
Not all American Catholics line up doctrinally with Francis and his Marxism adorned in papal garb. There is a small band of believers like Ann Barnhardt, who see the U.S. version of Catholicism and calls for “coerced charity” as nothing but a “front for the Marxist regime in Washington, D.C.,” as she wrote in this post on her website, from 2012.
Here’s what I know about most people. They hear what they want to hear. Devoted Catholics don’t care what I think about their pope, their church, or their faith. Liberals don’t care if their worship of outdated and failed economic policies like Marxism won’t affect any positive results in alleviating poverty. And the continued adulation by the media heaped upon Pope Francis for serving up a narrative similar to President Obama’s clearly shows where their hearts and ideology rest.
Long ago, I walked away from the Catholic worldview. I was fed up with a church that preached one thing while doing another. While I ended up embracing another failed theological model for a time, I’ve continued working at “perfecting my opinions.” What I know today is that I’d never be at home in Catholicism, especially given the politicization of the message coming from the Vatican and the current pope.