The Pope and the Politicians

May God Protect You from the Evil Politicians

May God Protect You from the Evil Politicians

The Catholic Church has always had this problem with Papal bureaucrats. Yesterday, Pope Francis lit into them at a Christmas gathering and nailed them on fifteen counts, including the “sickness” of considering themselves immortal, immune, or indispensable as well as “spiritual Alzheimer’s Disease.” These clerical politicians have needed to be taken down a peg—for at least two thousand years or so.

I admire Pope Francis and sincerely hope that he watches lest one of these cassock-wearing baddies slips rat poison into his hot chocolate. They are probably saying to themselves, “Yes, Pope Francis is a saint. And the sooner we send him to heaven, the better!”

During my lifetime, their have been two popes I’ve liked, John XXIII and John Paul II—both of whom have recently been elevated to sainthood. I hope Francis can somehow reform the Vatican bureaucracy while he is still walking among us. I may still have numerous disagreements with the Catholic Church, but spiritual leaders like Francis keep me from severing all connections.

He is a man of the people, whereas his targets are men of power. Kind of like corporation executives.


Two Socialists: Pope Francis & Jesus

Gee, Maybe It’s OK to Be Socialist

Gee, Maybe It’s OK to Be Socialist

Now our right wing pundits are all attacking Pope Francis for being a Marxist. He has been deemed to be guilty for caring about the poor, just as Jesus Christ was some two thousand years ago. In fact, Christ had no compunction about attacking the rich:

I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:23-26

Southern Nazarene University has an interesting website with Old and New Testament verses regarding the poor. Here is a little nugget I found from the Epistle of James:

“Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and becomes judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised those who love Him? But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?” James 2:2-6

Then there is this from 1 John 3:17-18: “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

One doesn’t have to delve too deeply in the Bible to find that it is all stacked on the side of the poor and against the rich. And yet, so many right-wing Conservatives believe exactly the opposite. Why? Because it is the rich who are bankrolling them, not the poor.

It seems to me that Pope Francis is the real Christian, and all the pundits aligned against him are heretics who deserve to be burned at the stake. (Dear me, it’s my Catholic background coming out again.)



Text: Pope Francis Speaks Out

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

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 naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.—Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium

A Jesuit Paradise?

Stamps Commemorating the Jesuit Missions of Paraguay

Stamps Commemorating the Jesuit Missions of Paraguay

It is interesting to me that, for the first time in its history, the papacy is in the hands of a Jesuit, from South America no less. In southeastern Paraguay and in the Argentinean state of Misiones, there are numerous ruins attesting to the 17th and 18th century Jesuit missions—missions that were so powerful that they were, in effect, in control of the Guarani Indians of the area. If you ever saw Roland Joffe’s 1986 movie, The Mission, with Robert DeNiro, Liam Neeson, and Jeremy Irons, you have some idea of what the Jesuit government of Paraguay was like.

You can find out even more by reading the forgotten classic history by R. B. Cunninghame Graham entitled A Vanished Arcadia: Being Some Account of the Jesuits in Paraguay 1607 to 1767.

It even finds its way into Voltaire’s Candide, but its author being such an anticlerical cuss, he has his hero kill the Jesuit commandant of one of the missions. Yet he writes in Histoire Politique et Philosophique des Indes:

When in 1768 the missions of Paraguay left the hands of the Jesuits, they had arrived at perhaps the highest degree of civilization to which it is possible to conduct a young people, and certainly at a far superior state than that which existed in the rest of the new hemisphere. The laws were respected there, morals were pure, a happy brotherhood united every heart, all the useful arts were in a flourishing state, and even some of the more agreeable sciences: plenty was universal.

I have long thought that, if my thoughts had ever taken a turn toward the Catholic priesthood, I would have become a Jesuit. My teachers at St. Peter Chanel in Bedford, Ohio, wanted me to become one of them, a Marist. But, in the end, I became neither.

So now Pope Francis is a Jesuit from Argentina. He, I am sure, is quite aware of the history of the Jesuits in the southern cone of South America. It would be nice if he did for the Catholic Church what the Jesuits did for the Guarani in Paraguay and Argentina. Benedict XVI was a good man, but not strong enough for the task of making his faith relevant to a world that is falling away from the Church.


Habemus Puellam

Pope Marigold I

Pope Marigold I

At first, the pink smoke pouring from the chimney set up over the Sistine Chapel stunned the thousands of faithful, as well as an equal number of reporters, as to what it meant.

In the end, it was inevitable that the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church would eventually elect a female pope. Tradition was overturned in other ways as well: the new pope is not an ordained Catholic priest. (Nor can she be one according to canon law, to which she replies, “We’ll fix that!”.) And she is a lesbian, complete with tattoos and piercings.

Marigold I, originally Marigold Lilibeth Rathbun of Pepper Pike, Ohio, is also the first pope in several hundred years to still be in her twenties. “Yeah!” she comments; “That means I’ll be around for a while, so you all had better be good.”

Naturally, Pope Marigold’s election was not quite unanimous. Silvestro Silvestrini, Cardinal Archbishop of Ercolano, thinks there were some voting irregularities. “Something is fishy around here.” At least, he admits that she is certifiably free of any accusations regarding the molestation of underage altar boys. His colleague, Grandissimo Pipi, Cardinal Archbishop of Gomorrah, chimed in with his broken English: “I resemble that!”

Of one thing we can be sure, Holy Mother the Church is taking a slightly different course. She reminds us, “And remember, youse guys, I’m the pope; and that means I’m inflammable!”



Pope on the Ropes

Adieu Benedict XVI!

Adieu Benedict XVI!

In a way, I liked Benedict XVI (whom Martine persists in calling Ratzo after his last name, Ratzinger); but I think the job was beyond the abilities of a conservative theologian. What with the Catholic Church being against gays in theory and, in effect, for same-sex molestation of the under-aged, there is too much of a disconnect. The world does not want theology at this juncture. In fact, many Catholics are fleeing the church because they feel it is either devious or too unemotional. Their destination? The various evangelical sects, which can be even more devious and certainly insincere in their emotionalism.

I shouldn’t be surprised if Benedict’s departure will open the doors to new revelations about perfidy by members of the clergy. What is that thing about the Pope’s butler? Shades of Godfather III! And now Britain’s only Cardinal has resigned for molesting priests!? (What I want to know is, why don’t the poor nuns ever get molested? Even Martin Luther did it.)

Catholicism is a religion which its adherents must cherry-pick if they wish to remain sane. You can like the great traditions, the Latin Mass, the saints, the miracles—while, at the same time, abhorring the stance on contraception, abortion, and the punishment of wayward pederast priests. For me, the things I love about the Church are the works of Thomas Merton and G. K. Chesterton (both converts) and the great saints, stretching back to Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.

I hope that Benedict is not too torn up by the Augean Stables that the Church has become. He was basically a good man in an impossible position.