Pope Francis descended on the United States this week, and from the noise on the right, you would think we'd never had a Pope utter opinions on political and social matters. Before and after addressing Congress, the Pope has been attacked by many on the right for holding what I believe are views in line with the Bible.
Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh called the Pope a Marxist while George Will went even further and said the Pope was a "False Prophet." There are many conservatives, Catholic or not, who feel this Pope is a liberal. And as a liberal, I strongly disagree.
The Pope is the head of the Catholic Church. It is believed by many within that faith that he is God's representative on earth. Being that Catholicism falls under the umbrella of Christianity, then one would assume that the Pope should be Christ-like in his messages, as he and his flock are supposed to be followers of Christ, the founder of their faith.
So, WWJD? Rather than what would Jesus do, why don't we look at what Jesus said and compare the Pope's beliefs and statements on the following issues:
The Pope said, we, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us once were foreigners. Ben Carson, are you listening? And the Pope was not just speaking of immigrants here in the United States; he referred to the refugees abroad also. Many in the United States suffer from some form of xenophobia. Whether it's the belief that Syrian refugees are all ISIS members in disguise, or the belief that an American Muslim President would try to get all of us to bow down to Sharia law, or the belief that all Latin men are raping women... you get the point. And Jesus?
In Luke 3:11, Jesus stated: "Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise."
And in Luke Chapter 4: "...to set at liberty those who are oppressed. "
That doesn't sound like a campaign to deport, build a wall or say, "That's someone else's problem." And notice Jesus doesn't say, check their green card or religion before sharing your food or clothing.
The Pope said "I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution," and "Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation."
In Genesis, the Bible speaks of the earth's formation. But does that mean that the Bible and God don't want us to protect the environment? Believing in climate change and wanting cleaner air to breathe and cleaner water to drink isn't a science vs. religion issue, nor should it be. When asked about this very issue, the great Bible teacher and Christian Billy Graham responded this way: "We don't worship the earth; instead, we realize that God gave it to us, and we are accountable to Him for how we use it."
This reminds me of how our bodies are the temple of God; shouldn't our planet be as well?
The Pope is rather conservative, not liberal on the issues of abortion and gay marriage. Although he has spoken in the past about forgiveness and mercy for those who have had an abortion, like Jesus did for every sinner, saying, "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matthew 9:11) The Pope has also called for a defense of life at "every stage of development."
And on the subject of gay marriage, the Pope, when addressing our political leaders in Washington, stated: "Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life."
Those are certainly not the utterings of a staunch pro-life, pro-gay marriage liberal.
The Pope has declared "greed has hijacked capitalism." Is he wrong? When he said this and those Wall Street types were angry, I could envision Jack Nicholson on the stand in the flick "A Few Good Men" saying, "The truth! You can't handle the truth!" But even if you do not feel that statement is true, it is biblical. We are all familiar with Timothy 6:10: "For the love of money is the root of all evil."
On a personal note, I am a former Catholic. My mother is Sicilian and Irish. She once wanted to be a nun; that is, until she met my Jewish father. Up until 16 I went to Catholic Church. I was baptized, made my first communion and was confirmed. At 16, my mother became a born again Christian and presto! We were Protestant. I currently do not subscribe to any religion. I believe in God but have had my struggles with Christianity and my faith.
So as a liberal Democrat, I do not believe this man is a Marxist, a false prophet, or even a prophet at all. I believe he is speaking about our current world, as well as our current political and social issues, from a biblical perspective. In other words, he is doing his job.
Just one more thing, Pope Francis: About that capitalism - could you sell a few of the pieces of artwork from the Vatican Museum, or melt some of the Vatican Bank's gold to feed the poor Catholics in places like Calcutta? Just an idea.....