VATICAN CITY, ITALY
As a lifelong Catholic I have looked forward, each year, to the revered Papal tradition of His Holiness The Pope celebrating the Last Supper Mass by washing the feet of 12 common men (not women, men). On this wonderful day the Holy Father Pope sets aside his lavish lifestyle -- the power, pomp, ceremony, silks and satins, the golden luxury of the life of God's chosen shepherd -- and with this simple act is humbly reminded exactly how easy it is, with a little water and some dirty feet, to convince tens of millions of working folks to give their hard-earned money and allegiance to a group of rich, powerful old men who claim to work for God. And after this heartwarming ceremony, the Pope returns to his servants, silken robes and marble throne securely looking forward to another year of princely opulence; the poor sleep a bit easier believing the fabulously wealthy Vicar of Christ would rather be out washing filthy feet than sleeping in a glittering palace built with their money, and the dozen men -- not women -- know that, though they may die hungry, cold, lonely, unloved and unremembered, at least for one night they had clean feet.
That is the Church I grew up with.
However every once in a while some jerk shows up to threaten this dazzling illusion of munificence. Some jerk like Pope Francis. Apparently this "Pope" isn't satisfied with washing the feet of some soon-to-be-consigned-to-oblivion-and-starvation beggars. Oh, no... Reports are this guy goes out at night, dressed as a simple priest and talks to the poor, ministering to their needs, showing actual concern about them! This, plus his open distain for the accumulation of insane amounts of wealth while so many are in desperate need, has confounded and confused Catholic leaders around the globe. What bejeweled bishop can justify soliciting donations for a new Cadillac from his penny-poor flock when the Pope flaunts his humility in a used Renault? How can these pious men raise money for the personal helicopters they so desperately need to personally root homosexuality out of the Cayman Islands when the Pope himself refuses to bathe in warm, liquid money like his Holy predecessors? Admittedly there is still hope -- at least this Pope hasn't opened the doors to women and gay priests -- but with his focus on economic justice "Francis" is threatening to turn the blessed, multibillion dollar business of the Catholic Church into some dreary nonprofit, dedicated to at least paying more than lip service to those in need if not -- God forbid -- actually helping them!
If Christ had wanted us to put helping, comforting and caring for each other ahead of blind bigotry and the frenzied accumulation of wealth, he would have said something about it in the Bible! Don't doubt it for a moment -- if this Pope has his way no one would have way too much, while everyone else would have enough! Is that the kind of world we want to live in? Rumor has it Francis (If that is his real name!) has gone so far as to imply that Capitalism increases economic disparity and misery! In God's name, how can finding a pool of labor so desperate they will work in horrible conditions for the lowest possible wages to manufacture something sold for the highest possible price -- with the balance of the profit pocketed by a small group of wealthy investors while the workers who actually made the goods scramble just to feed their children and keep a roof over their heads -- be anything but holy? Next he'll be saying the incessant befouling and degrading of God's blessed earth for the financial profit of the few who can afford homes far away from the poisoned existence of the impoverished workers doomed to raise their children in a nightmare of noxious air, contaminated seas and barren, blighted land is somehow not what Christ intended!
I humbly but urgently submit that this man (If man he be!) must be removed from office before he permanently changes the hallowed Cash Register of Christ we know as Catholicism from the Holy Shield, which protects and enriches the wealthy and powerful into something totally unrecognizable: an organization devoted to uplifting the poor and powerless!
If, however, this "The Love of Money is the Root of All Evil" theme is to be the new direction of the Catholic Church, I shall be sadly forced to leave the faith of my Fathers and find a church more in keeping with what I have always understood to be the Lord my God's love of power, and His never-ending financial lust.
Perhaps the Baptists.
A Concerned Believer