Pope Francis.. Not Afraid To Speak Out..

To me the foundation of my spirituality lies in the words of Jesus in Matthew 25, particularly verse 40: ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Pope Francis almost wants me to return to my religious roots in Catholicism. He says inconvenient truths that so many other religious leader shy away from or completely disregard.  Verse 40 as cited above is the most often quoted verse in Matthew. Seldom are the verses before or after used as a pretext to that sentence. In those verses Jesus basically tells the current religious leaders that they are hypocrites who will not be welcomed into heaven if they don’t take care of the “least of these”.  In fact he tells them an inconvenient truth often ignored: 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

These are very strong words that Pope Francis said about not being a Christian without practicing the words Matthew 25:40!  Many of the 81% of the Evangelicals who voted for CO3 (the Current Oval Office Occupant) often twist these words to say they only apply to other Christians (and particularly of their flavor of Christian!) but to me that is an intolerable rationalization that diminished their self-professed faith.

But I do also realize that these words and logic of Pope Francis will have not affect on CO3 as he is unable to admit that he is wrong about anything.  I just hope that the other two branches of government do their job and prevent the current Executive branch from destroying the spiritual roots of our country…

GOD SAVE OUR COUNTRY (in spite of ourselves)

Living On The Outskirts Of Hope…

2015-09-26_17-00-20I want to pen some final words about Pope Francis here. The title of this post is a recent quote from him that truly inspires me. There are just too many people in the world to who the very idea of hope seems unknowable. They live in such despair that all they can manage is just surviving day-to-day.   It is said that Pope Francis views the world from the Bottom up. I have never thought of it in those terms but it is an accurate portrayal of him and I hope to a certain degree myself.

Most of us, especially those of us living in the U.S. view life from a top down window.   We all dream of getting rich someday so that we can buy whatever our hearts desire.  We feverishly follow tweets from all the rich and famous people dreaming to be like them someday. We seldom take time to think about those living below us and in some cases very far below us.

I know that GOP congressional leader Paul Ryan’s hero Ayn Rand called empathy a scourge of mankind and that is probably how Mr. Ryan and many of his GOP friends view mankind. They seem to deem those that have nothing are just lazy people looking for free stuff.  Empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of those less fortunate than yourself. Many simply refuse to go there.

To see the leader of the biggest Christian organization in the world living with a bottom up view is inspiring indeed. I hope his empathy is addictive to all those millions who went out to see him recently.  I know that Catholic Services is one of the strongest and most active religious organizations out there. If only all of us who call ourselves Christians were actively involved in such services we might just live up to the expectations of our founder.

 

 

Pope Francis and Consumerism…

In Francis’ encyclical Laudato Sí, he took aim at the West’s “extreme and selective consumerism” and “throwaway culture,” arguing that the developed world’s voracious appetites are a bigger threat to the planet than population growth. Blaming overpopulation in poorer parts of the world, he writes, “is an attempt to legitimize the present model of distribution, where a minority believes that it has the right to consume in a way which can never be universalized, since the planet could not even contain the waste products of such consumption.”…

If Pope Francis is working at least partly on faith, surely the same is true of boosters of supply-side economics. Conservatives can believe that the laissez-faire policies pursued by George W. Bush didn’t directly lead to the 2008 economic crash, or that the tax changes pushed by Reagan aren’t a primary cause of the growing chasm of disparity between the rich and the poor — they can believe that Reaganomics works. But plenty of real economists would find that faith naïve and misguided.

You can disagree with the pope on economics or the environment or any host of issues — again, plenty of people do, including Catholics of all political persuasions. But it’s a little rich for the high priests of Voodoo Economics to be calling the Vicar of Christ an economic charlatan with nothing important to say.

Source: Why Pope Francis is at least as qualified to pontificate on economics as U.S. conservatives

I will soon be ending my “Pope Francis” posts and return to the normal day-to-day world so I want to put some closing thoughts into this post.  I am shockingly surprised just how aligned I am with the messages of Pope Francis during his visit to the U.S.  One of the advantages of being retired is that I was able to watch much of his activity in real-time.

I’m not sure that there was a single issue he brought up that I didn’t whole heartedly agree with.  This guy just seems to speak to my heart. I definitely have my differences with the church he leads but maybe even those will mostly diminish as he re-shapes Catholicism.

One of the sad things I see about Pope Francis is that he was not made pope long ago.  It seems like Pope Benedict was just wasted time.  Pope Francis is 78 years old and his physical movement show it.  I don’t know how long he will remain on this earth but I hope he has a long life.  The Church, and by that I mean all of Christianity, needs him and his teachings.

What I most fear, or maybe expect is a better word, is that the attention,his words and actions have brought forward will quickly subside and we, and the church, will go back to the way we were.

The Mark Of The Shepherd…

the mark of the shepherd is you have got the smell of the sheep.

You have to go out and not only teach, but listen to the people of God. And he said, my ideal of a pastor was a priest I knew who knew who the name of every dog in the slum….

What he has done, I think, is he has transformed the Catholic attitude towards the world. He’s calling us to the margins and to the marginalized. And that is, of course, the oldest Christian message…

It is his identification with the poor that most differentiates Pope Francis. His remarks on inequality and the excesses of modern capitalism have been forceful, and he has attacked supply-side economics, policies that call for tax cuts for the rich, as a near-sacrilegious heresy.

Source: How a low-profile priest transformed into Pope Francis

 While I agree with everything above I especially love the first quote. It describes perfectly the difference between just saying words and actually acting out your beliefs.  Pope Francis is the epitome of being a humanitarian and demonstrates that fact through words and especially his actions. It will be interesting to hear in the coming days whether his words stuck to any of the politicians in Washington.  On this account I am pretty skeptical.  If dozens of young school kids being blown away by freely available guns did nothing to promote any gun legislation I doubt that this pious man’s words will have much of a lasting effect but I would love to be proven wrong.

Wouldn’t it be gigantic to see that the common good as the pope described it take hold in our national processes.

  • We need to quit using federal funds to abort life before birth as well as to end existing life via execution or street level violence.
  • We need to reign in capitalism so that  it allows families at all levels of the economy to thrive.
  • We need to FINALLY get a hold of allowing guns in the hands of those who would do so much harm .
  • We need to make sure that even the poor have an opportunity to become rich, even very rich, but NEVER very very rich. When too much is allowed to accumulate in the hands of a few humanity can never prosper or even survive for long. We need to finally understand that basic principle.
  • We need to treat the least of these  as we want to be treated.
  • We need to get out of our pews, synagogs and mosques and put messages of God engraved in our hearts into action.
  • We need to do whatever is necessary to stop killing each other over ideologies that really won’t make much difference. We need to quit sending our young men and women to war as a first choice.

Will any of these things have even a chance of happening?  I pray that they will but dread that they won’t. Thank you Pope Francis for putting all of these topics front and center in our lives if even only for a day or two.

Perhaps They Never Will..

GOP_Leadership

I have to put out a quick post here following Pope Francis’ speech before our congress. To me it was very inspiring but obviously there were those there that simply refused to listen to anything he said. Instead they sat stoically on their hands while those around them frequently stood and applauded.

This reminded me of the last words in the final verse of one of my favorite songs which is entitled “Vincent” by Don McClean. It goes like this…

They would not listen,

They are not listening still

Perhaps they never will

I just cannot believe that the current GOP leadership really represent all those who claim allegiance to that party.  Are all those millions who make up the GOP base so close minded that they will not even consider listening to anything that might threaten their current views?  I certain hope not.  The Bible calls that “hardened hearts”.  Perhaps its time to look elsewhere for your leaders?

Pope Francis has an unsettling message for corporate America

On Sept. 24, Francis will be the first pontiff ever to speak before a joint session of Congress. He’ll speak in English rather than his native Spanish. And he’ll most likely say a lot of things objectionable to the Republicans who hold majorities in both branches of Congress, and to many champions of American-style capitalism.

Source: Pope Francis has an unsettling message for corporate America – Yahoo Finance

Catholic or not (I am not) should listen in on what this man says.  He is a man as close to the teachings of Jesus Christ as I have ever seen in my lifetime.  You might just be inspired by his words….

Choosing Between the Pope and the GOP…

2015-01-23_11-40-13The problem is simply that Francis has broken from too many elements in the Republican Party platform. First there were affirming statements about homosexuality. Then harsh words for capitalism and trickle-down economics. And now climate change. That, it seems, is a bridge too far. Francis has put conservative American Catholics in the position of having to choose between the pope and the GOP. It should surprise no one that they’re siding with the Republicans.

SOURCE:  The Week – The Republican Party’s war with Pope Francis has finally started.

Yeah, Pope Francis does seem to conflict with many of the current foundations of the GOP. He simply cares too much about the poor and economic inequality. Being a Franciscan priest who spent much of his life among the poor in South America I am not at all surprised. He cares too much about climate change and being responsible stewards of the earth. He cares too much about loving each other. So, with a battle looming of allegiances between their religion and their politics which way will  the average GOP conservative go?

According to this article they, for the most part, are choosing their politics and like the NYPD, are turning their backs to this new pope and that in my mind is a total shame. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised though but I am definitely disappointed and I hope that it isn’t a broad thing among American Catholics. As a whole Catholics tend to vote Democrat but that is primarily because a significantly larger number of non-white Catholics skew the results that way. In my mind this is the most relevant pope in my lifetime as far as obeying Jesus’ command to love each other.

Pope in blistering critique of Vatican bureaucrats

2014-12-23_09-21-20Francis issued a blistering indictment of the Vatican bureaucracy Monday, accusing the cardinals, bishops and priests who serve him of using their Vatican careers to grab power and wealth, of living “hypocritical” double lives and forgetting that they’re supposed to be joyful men of God. Francis turned the traditional, genteel exchange of Christmas greetings into a public dressing down of the Curia, the central administration of the Holy See which governs the 1.2-billion strong Catholic Church. He made clear that his plans for a radical reform of the structures of church power must be accompanied by an even more radical spiritual reform of the men involved. Ticking off 15 “ailments of the Curia” one by one, Francis urged the prelates sitting stone-faced before him in the marbled Sala Clementina to use the Christmas season to repent and atone and make the church a healthier, holier place in 2015.

SOURCE: Pope in blistering critique of Vatican bureaucrats – Yahoo News.

I am becoming more endeared to Pope Francis as each day passes.  He seems to be the only pope in my lifetime to look to the teachings of Jesus instead of the huge bureaucracy around him. A radical reform is needed and he seems anxious to do just that. He is the first non-European to be pope in I guess 600 years so maybe he can more readily see and has experienced the effects of a muddled bureaucracy. And then there is the Cuba/US relations work. Some of the most radical Cuban-American leaders basically disown him as a result of his work in that area.  It has probably been centuries, if ever, that a pope was chosen who was not brought up in the Curia. Pope Francis seems to be seriously trying to fashion the church into what it was originally intended.  He is in my prayers and I will be following him closely in this new year….

Pope Francis’ actions give me definite hope that he will be able to turn the largest Christian denomination back toward the actual teachings of Jesus Christ. I may even consider becoming a Catholic once again…. who knows…

 

"A Church That Is Poor"…

2014-04-09_18-54-55After spending $43 million on residential renovations, German bishop Monsignor Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst was suspended. On Wednesday, Pope Francis accepted the bishop’s resignation….

Francis has called on his priests and bishops to be models of sobriety in a church that “is poor and is for the poor.” SOURCE:  Why Pope Francis accepted the ‘Bishop of Bling’ resignation – CSMonitor.com.

I continue to be amazed by the words and actions of Pope Francis. He seems to be very serious in making the church into the vision of its founder.  The source article is about how he “accepted” the resignation of a German Bishop who was lavishly spending money of his residence including a $20,000 bath tub!  That item seemed to be the breaking point even for the bishop’s flock, if bishops in fact have flocks.

From this and other posts about the Pope, it seems he is really shaking up things in Vatican City as well as throughout the world. His comment that the church “is poor and is for the poor” is almost earth shaking in it simplicity and its fundamental turn from its past. One of the things I seem to criticize the most about religious institutions is how much they spend on lavish cathedrals and such. That seems to be very contradicted by Jesus and even the early Christian community. Stating that the church should be poor is radical concept indeed for those folks in Rome. I hope some of it sticks into their mental attitudes. I don’t think God really cares whether we take communion in a fancy silver goblet or a simple clay one.

I wonder what all those cardinals are now thinking that voted to make Pope Francis their pope? Are they saying “we have created a monster” or are they saying “it’s about time”. I hope it is the latter….

Strength, Courage, Hope in New Year

2014-01-18_17-49-05Pope Francis, laying out his hopes Wednesday for the just-begun year, urged people to work for a world where everyone accepts each other’s differences and where enemies recognize that they are brothers.

“We are all children of one heavenly father, we belong to the same human family and we share a common destiny,” Francis said…. “What is happening in the heart of man? What is happening in the heart of humanity?” Francis asked. “It’s time to stop.”

SOURCE Pope Stresses Strength, Courage, Hope in New Year – ABC News.

I want to end this first month of the new year 2014 with some inspiring words from the new pope of the Catholic church.He has the courage to speak out on so many issues that other fear to embrace. I admire him much for that.

These handful of sentences pretty much sums up one of my life’s primary purposes. I know I am just a simple-living senior citizen but even my contributions to the world mean something. I blog here and especially over at Red Letter Living hoping to convince just a few of you who might be acting otherwise that diversity is a good thing and loving each other is the main thing God expects of us. Why do we seem to gravitate toward the opposite feelings?

Pope Francis continues to pluck my heartstrings with his words.  I can’t imagine a better religious figure for our times. I pray that some of his hope rubs out some of my doubt about the world.

Trickle Down Thoughts From The Pope….

“In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

2013-12-19_18-28-40The above quote is from the new Evangelii Gaudium, recently released from Pope Francis. This pope continues to amaze me with his courageous words for the least of these. Here the pope is directly calling those, like President Reagan and his crowd, who believed in trickle-down economics naive. As he mentioned trickle-down although still popular in some conservative circles has never been born out by anything resembling the facts.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a free-market capitalist but I know that capitalism is only successful when it is properly reigned in by regulatory forces. Unbridled capitalism is a dangerous thing since its primary driver is greed.  I may be a free-marketer but I am not naive enough to believe in the innate goodness of that system. Quite the opposite is true.

So, here is once again to you Pope Francis for saying what many do not have the courage to say in today’s world….

Pope attacks mega-salaries and wealth gap…

2013-12-12_09-12-42VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis said in the first peace message of his pontificate that huge salaries and bonuses are symptoms of an economy based on greed and inequality and called again for nations to narrow the wealth gap. In his message for the Roman Catholic Church’s World Day of Peace, marked around the world on January 1, he also called for sharing of wealth and for nations to shrink the gap between rich and poor, more of whom are getting only “crumbs”.

“The grave financial and economic crises of the present time … have pushed man to seek satisfaction, happiness and security in consumption and earnings out of all proportion to the principles of a sound economy” he said. “The succession of economic crises should lead to a timely rethinking of our models of economic development and to a change in lifestyles,” he said….

Since his election in March as the first non-European pope in 1,300 years, the Argentinian has several times condemned the “idolatry of money” and said it was a depressing sign of the times that a homeless person dying of exposure on the street was no longer news but a slight fall in the stock market is.

SOURCE:  Pope attacks mega-salaries and wealth gap in peace message – Yahoo News.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Time Magazine had chosen Pope Francis as its person of the year.  I dreaded the idea that Senator Cruz, who was in the top ten list might be chosen! Time has a way of  sometimes wanting to shock its readers with their unpredictability.  I am glad that saner minds ruled this year.

Anyway, getting back to the story and quote above, I was truly inspired by his words about the wealth gap. He does indeed seem to be a Pope for the people and not just an administrator as the previous pope was often cited to be. The wealth gap, in the whole world not just the U.S., is becoming so extreme as to threaten our very humanity.  With the increase in riches by a very small minority also comes the increase in power to perpetuate  the suppression of the majority.

Pope Francis gets it and is not afraid to let the world know what he thinks. Narrowing the wealth gap as the pope suggests means taking the power back to the people and away from the privileged few. That is no small task!  One great thing about this country is that our elected officials who make up most of the rules are still elected by the majority of its citizens. Now, if only we could get the ignorant, or at least misinformed, voters to realize that fact things might change in our country and the world.

Here is to you Pope Francis. Keep your voice loud and clear in this area and all the fellow Catholics in your clan take to heart your words and actually try to put them in action. Wouldn’t the world then be a better place??