The new Pope just keeps amazing me. Not that I’m going to suddenly turn Catholic or anything, but it’s so nice to see the church turning away from its old image as a corporate business hiding child molesters mostly concerned with abortion and gay marriage.
Since taking office, he has done the following:
Set up a committee to fight child abuse in the church and to root out the abusers;
Removed cardinals from the corrupt Vatican bank (after hiring independent banks to handle some aspects of the church’s functions);
Removed a cardinal who had refused to give communion to Democrats who supported abortion rights;
Removed a bishop who had spent millions on himself, only to turn the bishop’s luxury mansion into a soup kitchen;
Said that the church should be more concerned with the plight of the poor, while attacking trickle-down economics;
Said that the church should be less concerned with issues like gay marriage and abortion and “shouldn’t judge.”
Some of it is purely symbolic, such as getting rid of all the rich trappings of previous popes; living humbly and paying his own bills; going into public instead of hiding behind popemobiles and windows; and treating everyone with respect and dignity.
It’s almost as if this Pope had read the Bible or something!
Outraged! Right wing columnists and reporters are outraged that the Pope is speaking out about inequalities in our system. Outraged that he thinks governments should do more to stop the huge divide between rich and poor.
Rush Limbaugh warned of this Pope promoting “pure Marxism.” Fox News’ Stuart Varney criticized the Pope’s mixing of religion and politics. Sarah Palin called the Pope the worst name she could think of: “Liberal.” All of them said that the Pope had no business discussing politics.
You all remember how mad these right-wing pundits got about religion intermixing with politics when churches lobbied for laws against abortion, fought to prevent gays from getting married, and pushed to have creationism taught in public schools? (If you do remember, please remind me, because I can’t think of a single example — but clearly there must be, or else these people would be raging hypocrites now, wouldn’t they?)
Meanwhile, the Pope, ignoring them all, is doing his job, which includes sneaking out at night dressed as a normal priest and administering to the poor. Clearly, he is an evil, evil man that must be stopped.
American conservative leaders have often argued that greed is good, and controls on capitalism are ungodly. The logic is thus: Stalin was an atheist. Stalin liked socialist policies. Ergo, socialism is against religion.
This, of course, makes no logical sense whatsoever but the Powers That Be in the economic world gladly used it in the same way Stalin used communist promises to keep the people in their place. The right used religion to further its aims. People who believed that abortion and gay rights were against God could easily be swayed to also believe that welfare and controls on capitalism were also evil, since look, the same people who are on God’s side are also on the side of the bankers and billionaires. Clearly, therefore, all bankers and billionaires were Godlike.
Well, this new Pope is throwing all that out the window, and boy, is the right wing up in arms. Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh are now attacking religion with a fervor never before seen, and are apparently claiming that they have more authority than the Pope about what Jesus would want. (You remember Jesus — that guy who threw the moneylenders out of the temple and said that the rich could not get into heaven?)
For years, the right has proclaimed that we are a “Christian nation” (despite all evidence to the contrary) and yet now, when the leader of the largest Christian organization in the world tells us what we should be doing, suddenly Christian values are not important to us.
“As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems,” the Pope said. He’s talking about uncontrolled capitalism, about markets that crash and hurt the poor because the rich are gambling with our future, about the ridiculous idea that money “trickles down” to improve everyone’s lot.
Maybe it’s time that the Christian right started acting like Christians.
Apparently so, which is something I’m not sure could be said for some of the Popes who came before him, who seemed more interested in gathering wealth, sitting in gold-covered thrones, and hiding pedophiles.
This new Pope appears to have even read the Bible.
Today, he released a treatise where he basically called trickle-down economics evil, and called governments who protected the rich at the expense of the poor (that’s us, in case you weren’t paying attention) as not serving Jesus’ teachings. “How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses 2 points?” he asked. No, seriously, he really said that.
This is a guy who said he really didn’t care that much about prosecuting gays (“Who am I to judge?”) and worried that the Church had lost its way fighting over things like abortion when the real issue was fighting injustice and poverty.
I mean, he still has a way to go — for instance, he refuses to let women be priests — but it looks as if he is taking the Church in a good direction.
In a stunning announcement, the Pope revealed today that he has broken with longstanding Catholic tradition and has done the unthinkable. He has read the Bible.
“I have reviewed the teachings of Jesus thoroughly,” he said to gasps, “and I can’t find anything in there about hating gays, being against abortion, or disallowing contraception. There is, however, quite a bit about how the rich cannot get into heaven and how we should be doing everything in our power to help the poor and downtrodden.”
Numerous conservative politicians have spoken out against His Holiness, with one stating, “What in the world is he doing reading the Bible? You don’t need to read the Bible to know what it says! Look at me — I’ve never read the Constitution, and I know it says that this is a Christian nation.”
When people are turning away from religion in huge numbers, when stories of scandal and corruption fill the news, it would be a perfect time for Catholics to embrace the 21st century and perhaps put forward a Pope who would want to change things. Maybe soften their position on gays (especially given how many gay priests they have and know about). Maybe not be as harsh on contraception. Maybe even take a stand against the way their leaders live like royalty, surrounded by gold and living in castles, when the founder of their religion specifically preached against such excesses.
Instead, this new Pope is just like the last, ranting against gay rights, saying contraception is a sin, and surrounded by his own personal controversies in Argentina, where he supported the dictatorship there.
Most Catholics in America at least just ignore much of the church’s preaching. (I’m not quite certain how you can pick and choose these things, but I’m no Catholic.) But the numbers show that membership keeps dropping, and will continue to so long as the church tries to pretend the middle ages never ended.