Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Pope Francis Fires A Missile Across The Bow Of Progressives

Pope To Reduce His Twitter Followers' Time In Purgatory...The Onion

  • After Pope Francis took over the Papal throne more than a year ago, progressives believed they had an advocate in the Vatican for all of their progressive-secular beliefs such as abortion and same-sex marriage. He appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone.  Even The Advocate, the LGBT publication, announced Pope Francis as their "Person of the Year." The LGBT community was impressed with the Pope's statement regarding gays when he said, "If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?" Shortly thereafter, he gave in interview to an Italian publication expressing the possibility of the Church recognizing civil unions for gays and lesbians. The door to civil unions was finally cracked open with those comments as they should have been much earlier (clearly, my opinion).
  • In the beginning, one could understand their euphoria. After all, Pope Francis was criticized by some on the Right for his pronouncements about Capitalism and the Free-Market. He made some comments about the negative effects of consumerism and economic inequality (what he clearly meant was that free markets alone cannot create economic growth). He chose not to reside in the papal palace but instead chose the Vatican guest house. They were even infatuated with his riding around in a Ford Focus rather than the papal limo. That was followed by the decision of the Pope to create a commission on sex-abuse policy (long overdue in my opinion and the opinion of most Catholics).
  • But what all of these folks on the Left failed to understand is that Pope Francis simply reinforced long held Catholic belief and theology. Catholics have always been concerned about the marginalized within their communities including the LGBT community. Catholicism has long preached inclusion . In fact, Christ preached a Gospel of inclusion. Concern for those in poverty has been held in high regard by the Church for centuries even as their own hierarchy was occasionally entrenched with their own corruption and greed (a trait common to most hierarchies as evidence by almost every political system on earth since the beginning of human history. Christ was a victim of such corruption). In many respects, the Catholic Church has long been both conservative and liberal but never in-between.  While redistribution of wealth has not been a radical notion for the Catholic Church, empowerment of the individual---free from overreaching government intrusion---has long been held in high esteem by most Catholics. Again, one simply has to revisit the Gospels to see how Christ himself dealt with government overreach and the price he paid for his response to government corruption.
  • But the honeymoon appears to be over. If it isn't, it soon will be. At his Papal audience last week, Pope Francis reinforced Catholic theology when it comes to traditional marriage.  He stressed the importance of marriage between a man and a woman when he declared: "When a man and woman celebrate the sacrament of marriage, God is reflected in them."
  • There is no doubt that the actions and words of Pope Francis are changing the way the Church is perceived. But I believe it's wrong to try to spin his rhetoric to enhance either conservative or progressive principles. Francis himself said we must have an "ever-watchful scrutiny of the sign of the times." In other words, more changes are coming. But it doesn't necessarily mean it's time to party for those on either side of the political spectrum.