America, Give Francis a Chance

 

21663687125_ad4250b5d1_kPope Francis has arrived in America. Good for him and hooray for the American Catholic Church. It’s always nice to hear a good news. Living in Ireland, where the Roman Catholic church has been turned into the proverbial boogeyman once reserved for my English cousins — with falling priest numbers and even fewer congregations — I am always happy to see a positive story about the Catholic Church, no matter the occasion. Let us hope it leads to a boom in vocations in the American homeland, and perhaps a trickle here in Ireland, too.

Since his election two years ago, Francis has done more wonders for the Catholic Church’s public relations than 1,000 spin merchants working day and night across the oceans. Ordinary people — believers and non-believers, Catholics and non-Catholics — who would normally never give the Church or its leaders the time of day fall over themselves to praise or take interest in him.

Whilst it unnerved (and still unnerves) this exceptionally lousy, traditional Catholic to see friends and liberal celebrities offer their praise Francis — especially give the way they unfairly excoriated Pope Benedict — I have come to realize that he may be a shepherd who can reach out beyond those who are already within the Catholic tent. This has to be good, right? Even the secular liberal press who normally enjoy sticking the knife into conservatives and orthodox Catholics have taken it upon themselves to spin for Francis (whether he knows about this or what they are stating/pushing on his behalf is unclear). While also unnerving, given some of the lies told on his behalf, it is also welcome.

Alas, not all are happy about Francis’ trip to America. Over the last few weeks, there have been murmurings from many conservatives and libertarian blogs excoriating Francis for his vocal positions on climate change, Cuba, and capitalism and demanding that he stick to the usual papal topics that coincide with their conservative opinions such as abortion and morals. George Will, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge, Brian Kilmeade, Judge Napatalino and many more. I have no problem with any of this. In fact, on some areas, they are quite right to attack him.

Pope Francis should be criticized in areas where he gives political opinions on in the public domain, and I myself find his take on climate change to be wrong (but he has the right to his opinion), and I disagree with his approach toward the Castros (though we do not know what is going on behind scenes). On capitalism, I am more sympathetic to Francis than most of his detractors, in that people must recognize that his criticisms  are product of his upbringing and his traditionalist understanding. In Latin America in general — and especially in his native Argentina — capitalism is synonymous with corporatism. Also, several Popes including John Paul II (no socialist) and Pope Benedict (no commie) excoriated capitalism for its failings.

As for areas where conservatives want Pope Francis to speak out, I share their hopes. Given the revelations of the disgusting treatment of the unborn in Planned Parenthood’s abortion mills, I would hope that he uses the chair of Peter to call on, or at least shame, the Democrats on their complete capitulation to the forces of evil on this issue. I hope he gives encouragement to the faithful in a world which regularly scorns them and their beliefs on issues concerning life, sex, morality, and faith. I also look forward and pray he calls upon Obama and Congress to defend Christians at home and abroad from persecution (I know, fat chance) but at least he can make the guy squirm with pointed word and call the world media’s attention to plight of Christians.

Lastly, it has sadly come to my attention that some commentators on right are engaging in anti-Catholic rhetoric involving money, modernism, and science. Shame on them. Criticize Pope Francis and the Church as you see fit. However, engaging in Catholic myths about hostility towards science and hatred for poor is beneath people on the right. It is also historically illiterate.

I wish Pope Francis a successful papal visit to your shores. I will pray for him and my fellow Catholics in America. Some who hear his message may stop and give pause to it, and give God a chance in their lives. I seem to remember Christ talking about lost sheep who come back to the fold. Give Francis a chance. God bless you.

Image Credit: Victoria Pickering/ Flickr

Published in Religion & Philosophy
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  1. Could be Anyone Member
    Could be Anyone
    @CouldBeAnyone

    May God’s Peace be with you as well Paddy and thanks for the wishes. Hopefully Papa Francis can take more visits across the pond and see Ireland.

    • #1
  2. Guruforhire Inactive
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    Sorry, I have written him off.

    • #2
  3. The Cloaked Gaijin Member
    The Cloaked Gaijin
    @TheCloakedGaijin

    Are Pope Francis and anti-communist Pope John Paul II the same religion?

    No word about the U.S. being one of the few Western nations to allow late-term abortion in the age of Planned Parenthood videos?

    Global warming?

    Not meeting with Cuban defenders of liberty?

    Illegal immigrants as pilgrims?

    No words against the gay rights movement or Obamacare as ways to overturn freedom of religion?

    Capitalism as always evil, but socialism as never evil?

    Not a lot of words against the Christian genocide in the Middle East?

    Support for a phony peace with terrorist and apocalyptic Iran?

    No words against religious persecution in China and similar nations?

    I don’t expect the Pope to be an American conservative, but I don’t think he should always be anti-conservative either.

    Differences have to be confronted by people of moral authority, not hidden.

    • #3
  4. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    I too pray for the Pope. (“What? You – a Lutheran?” “Yeah me, a Lutheran. Now hush.”) His opinions on global warming will be thrown in our faces, as will his critiques of the capitalism he doesn’t quite understand. For all that, he may reach souls, and that is what it’s all about.

    God bless you, Paddy, and may Ireland reawaken in faith.

    • #4
  5. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Hey Paddy quit trying to tap into the American conscience. The last thing we need to worry about as we get into line for the latest I-Phone is Christians being hacked to death by ISIS. Don’t you realize that there are people who might not get a wedding cake. Puuhleese we have our own problems.

    • #5
  6. Nyadnar17 Inactive
    Nyadnar17
    @Nyadnar17

    Christianity is the easiest sell in the world once you remove all the offensive stuff.

    Saying Francis has improved public relation for Catholicism and brought more people in is about the same as saying Joel Osteen has improved public relations for Christianity and brought more people in.

    The message people are responding to is not the Gospel and if its not the Gospel than whats the point?

    Edit: If the leader of an organisation distrusts Captialism, trust socialism, and believes in Anthropomorphic Global Warming is it really that out of line for me to question that organisation’s commitment to the poor and science?

    • #6
  7. Jo Ann Rogers Inactive
    Jo Ann Rogers
    @JoAnnRogers

    Thanks Paddy
    As a lapsed and re practicing Catholic, Francis makes my head spin. I’m a big fan of the former Pope Benedict. What is making my head spin, is that I used to have to listen to constant refrains of Catholic Church bashing from friends family and society in general. Now I sit silent and dumbfounded as all these liberals exclaim how much they love love love this pope. The reasons for that are obvious to us on the right. When I heard about the guest list at the White House I was furious , but then I thought what if……just what if those sinners presenting themselves to the pope see a glimmer of God’s love for them in his eyes. Maybe there’s a Mary Magdalene in the group. What if Pope Francis helps save a few souls? How bad would that be?

    • #7
  8. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    But do they praise his proclamation of Christ or of Marx? I think that makes a difference.

    Yes, one should critique the failings of capitalism (to be honest, it’s capitalists), but must one also heap praise on systems of known evil and human suffering when doing so?

    • #8
  9. Crabby Appleton Inactive
    Crabby Appleton
    @CrabbyAppleton

    You mustn’t assume from comments of the media duckspeakers that the people in America, even unCatholics like myself, have written off or are not willing to give Pope Francis a chance. I have great respect for him as a person and as a spiritual leader. If I were younger I might even get in my car and drive down to Philly and see him.

    • #9
  10. SoDakBoy Inactive
    SoDakBoy
    @SoDakBoy

    The King Prawn:But do they praise his proclamation of Christ or of Marx? I think that makes a difference.

    Yes, one should critique the failings of capitalism (to be honest, it’s capitalists), but must one also heap praise on systems of known evil and human suffering when doing so?

    I am familiar with his criticisms of the excesses of capitalists, but I don’t think I have seen him heaping praise on systems of known evil.  Has he explicitly praised Karl Marx, Communism, Nazism, or radical Islam?  How has he done this?

    • #10
  11. SoDakBoy Inactive
    SoDakBoy
    @SoDakBoy

    Percival:I too pray for the Pope. (“What? You – a Lutheran?” “Yeah me, a Lutheran. Now hush.”) His opinions on global warming will be thrown in our faces, as will his critiques of the capitalism he doesn’t quite understand. For all that, he may reach souls, and that is what it’s all about.

    God bless you, Paddy, and may Ireland reawaken in faith.

    Exactly.  I lead a group of confirmation candidates in a discussion group last night.  In this diocese, that means a group of 15-17 year olds.  They are typical teenagers but they enthusiastically love this Pope.  Sure, that enthusiasm is based, in part, on a bizarro-world media driven image of the Pope, but what is the harm done?  Is this enthusiasm more likely to encourage them to remain Christians into adulthood or to reject capitalism?

    For once, the media distortions might end up making the world a better place.

    • #11
  12. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    SoDakBoy: For once, the media distortions might end up making the world a better place.

    I place my faith in Christ alone, not in hopes of the liberal media being fooled into proclaiming the gospel.

    • #12
  13. Sash Member
    Sash
    @Sash

    As a non-Catholic, I’m trying to be patient with the hoopla.  But truthfully, can we talk about important things now?  This is simply not important to most of us.

    Don’t Catholics have a channel or something where you can all get together and listen to the Pope and watch the mobs of screaming people, without bothering the rest of us?

    It is really rude to dominate the news with something that is of so little importance to the nation.

    I can’t get any information about the email scandal or anything else because for some reason the media has decided that what this one man who leads another country has to say.  So what?

    And excuse  me? Doesn’t Vatican City have a wall around it?  And armed guards?

    So when the Pope tears down that wall and puts down the guns, and accepts all comers citizens of Vatican City,  then, the man can have an opinion about my country’s immigration problems.  Until that time he is a big fat HYPOCRITE!!!!

    In fact, how many Muslim “refugees” is the Vatican taking?  Are they building a Mosque for them?

    I am really trying not to be irritated by the over the top, senseless, breathless, news coverage, I generally think Catholics are great folks, and many are my political allies.

    But please keep your preaching and doctrine in your own church and stop shoving it down my throat.

    • #13
  14. donald todd Inactive
    donald todd
    @donaldtodd

    The King Prawn:

    SoDakBoy: For once, the media distortions might end up making the world a better place.

    I place my faith in Christ alone, not in hopes of the liberal media being fooled into proclaiming the gospel.

    Noting that I am a Catholic, I would not trust the media to accurately portray the pope or conservative politics.

    If a religious leader is attractive, might that be a reason for finding out what about that person is attractive?  History is full of people who caused others to think about the Lord.  Peter.  Paul.  John.  The early Church Fathers.  Augustine.  Francis of Assisi.  John Paul II.  Benedict 16.  Teresa of India.  The holy Mother of God as Our Lady of Guadalupe.

    • #14
  15. John Penfold Member
    John Penfold
    @IWalton

    In Cuba he lets the Cardinal call the political/pr shots.  The Church is trying to open a seminary there and wants to appear non threatening.    The Castros are irrelevant as they’ll be dead in a few years so the Cardinal has a longer term strategy in mind which may or may not be sound but is aimed at rebuilding a Cuban  church that no longer exists in any meaningful way.

    • #15
  16. donald todd Inactive
    donald todd
    @donaldtodd

    Sash:But please keep your preaching and doctrine in your own church and stop shoving it down my throat.

    Have you considered not reading what you are not interested in?  That works for me.

    • #16
  17. Marion Evans Inactive
    Marion Evans
    @MarionEvans

    “On capitalism, I am more sympathetic to Francis than most of his detractors, in that people must recognize that his criticisms are product of his upbringing and his traditionalist understanding. In Latin America in general — and especially in his native Argentina — capitalism is synonymous with corporatism.”

    That is a very good point. Cronyism too. Still, you would expect him to evolve after some decades.

    • #17
  18. Glenn Inactive
    Glenn
    @Glenn

    I tried – he failed to reach me. He seems to be a product of his home country. His calls for wealth redistribution to solve poverty falls on deaf ears. Where has this worked? In the Soviet Union, In Cuba, In Venezuela? We always hear about the ills of unfettered capitalism, when we will hear about the ills of unfettered central planners? In the last century, central planners were responsible for killing 100 million of their own people and keeping the rest in misery, why would it work any better now?

    • #18
  19. SoDakBoy Inactive
    SoDakBoy
    @SoDakBoy

    The King Prawn:

    SoDakBoy: For once, the media distortions might end up making the world a better place.

    I place my faith in Christ alone, not in hopes of the liberal media being fooled into proclaiming the gospel.

    If you think Christ works through his creation (ie you, me, the Pope, your pastor, and everything else) then you have good reason to cheer that the Pope is popular and being listened to by young people.

    I am cheered by seeing my students enthusiastically embracing Francis.  I loved Benedict XVI and still find his style more to my liking, but I never had a teenage student volunteer a positive statement about him.  Ever.

    If God can use ‘all things’ for good to those who love him, I don’t see why he can’t use an overwhelmingly popular Pope even if he may have a few opinions that don’t square with the opinions of National Review.

    • #19
  20. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Not all persuasion is logical. There is also affective persuasion. People are more inclined to listen to and be curious about those they find compelling in other ways, like humility and joy. In his charity and eagerness to know strangers, Pope Francis opens doors that arguments cannot.

    If some who have been misled become curious about Christ on account of a similarly mistaken but kind man, the ending is glorious whatever the beginning.

    • #20
  21. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    Paddy Siochain: Let us hope it leads to a boom in vocations in the American homeland, and perhaps a trickle here in Ireland, too.

    Thanks for the kind wishes Paddy!

    I grew up in a parish with a wonderful Irish pastor, he left his homeland and moved to California because at the time Ireland had more vocations then they knew what to do with.  I pray that with God’s grace we will one day be in a position to return the favor.

    • #21
  22. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    My forebears were Protestants all the way back to Jan Hus. Not going back to Romanism any time soon. Francis hasn’t given me any reason to reconsider.

    • #22
  23. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    The Cloaked Gaijin: No words against the gay rights movement or Obamacare as ways to overturn freedom of religion?

    Pope Francis made surprise stop at Little Sisters of the Poor to show support

    Pope Francis paid a short visit to the Little Sisters of the Poor community in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to support them in their court case over the contraception mandate, the Vatican’s spokesman revealed.

    “This is a sign, obviously, of support for them” in their court case, he affirmed.

    He added that the visit “is connected” to “the words that the Pope has said in support of the position of the bishops of the United States in the speech to President Obama and also in the speech to the bishops.”

    Pope Francis, with President Obama at the White House, called religious freedom “one of America’s most precious possessions” and had hearkened to the U.S. bishops’ defense of religious freedom. “All are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it,” he had said.

    • #23
  24. Manny Coolidge
    Manny
    @Manny

    Thank you Paddy.  That is quite kind of you.  I will be attending the Papal Mass at Madison Square Garden tomorrow and I am thrilled.  I will include in my prayers all my internet friends.  The political quibbles are insignificant; being in the presence of holiness will be extraordinary.

    • #24
  25. donald todd Inactive
    donald todd
    @donaldtodd

    Nick Stuart:My forebears were Protestants all the way back to Jan Hus. Not going back to Romanism any time soon. Francis hasn’t given me any reason to reconsider.

    Might one assume that your relatives before Hus were Catholic?

    • #25
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