Do you know what I discovered today? Pope Francis is in the house, and heads are about to explode! He is due to address Congress tomorrow, and apparently he has slipped in the polls (he dropped from being “liked” by Americans from 76% in 2014 to 59% because he has pissed off people on both the Right and the Left—but mainly on the right). We are such fickle-ass people.
Well, I really “heart” this pope, and I’m not quite sure why. I’m not Catholic, but there is something magnetic about him. Maybe it is because I love Jesus, he loves Jesus, and we’re both just trying to do our God proud by the way we walk the talk—to the best of our ability, which is fallible at best, no matter what people tell you about the Pope’s infallibility.
Apparently, Pope Francis has stepped on the toes of quite a few people in America. Conservatives are passing kidney stones because they feel the Pope has meddled in climate change, income inequality, and immigration issues—areas they think he clearly does not belong (“keep your hands off our Ayn Rand idolatry, leave climate issues to the scientists [except when we don’t agree with the scientists], and shut up about those damn illegal aliens—those bottom feeders who don’t talk ‘American’ and who are stealing our jobs!”). Apparently, he does belong in our sex lives, and the Conservatives would be more than happy for the Pope to walk softly and carry a big stick while he is in America against the topics of homosexuality, abortion, gay marriage, and women’s leadership in the church.
Liberals appreciate the grace and compassion he is showing toward gays and lesbians, people who have had abortions, and the economically disadvantaged, but the smart ones know that he has not (and never will) change church doctrine one iota where it comes to women in the priesthood, sanctioning gay marriage, and supporting abortion—even for women who have been raped or when the mother’s life hangs in the balance).
There is even a growing contingency in the nutty tongues-speaking wing of the Church who think Pope Francis is the Anti-Christ and will be ushering in the “New World Order” on September 25th (let’s all watch for it—not!) Of course, these same people thought President Obama was the Anti-Christ, so it seems the Bible literalists will have to draw straws and see who wins the Anti-Christ crown. (If you Google “Pope Francis Anti-Christ,” you’ll get 425,000 links in under 40 seconds. If you Google “New World Order,” you will discover that Wikipedia describes it as “a conspiracy theory by Christians referring to the emergence of a totalitarian one world government.” If you Google “Obama Anti-Christ, Muslim, foreigner,” your computer will explode along with your head from all the vile hatred and lies against our poor President.)
Cartoon Used by Permission: John Cole, The Scranton-Times Tribune
I wish I could gain an audience with His Holiness. If I could I would drag along a few people for a private audience with the Pope to help clear up some things. I know the White House staff has chosen a diverse audience to hear Pope Francis which has pissed off mainly the Conservatives, but I’d drag a rather eclectic group of people into the Pope’s presence (both conservative and liberal) who aren’t on that invite list just so that he could see how truly gnarly we are as a country and how much we really need his prayers.
Cartoon Used by Permission: Taylor Jones, http://www.politicalcartoons.com (Cagle)
The first candidate would be Donald Trump, and I’d have him restate his bogus claim that he is a true believer (done to capture the unthinking Evangelical vote), and if he’s ever asked forgiveness as a “true believer” (a foundational Christian tenet).
“I am not sure I have [asked for forgiveness—insert mine]. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. . . . I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.”—The Donald, a.k.a. “A God Unto Himself”
I already know what His Holiness would say to Mr. Trump:
Then His Holiness would probably tell The Donald to give away all his money to the poor as Jesus required of the rich man in the Bible and set up affordable housing for all those who can’t afford to live in NYC even though they work there (he could do this and still have money left over), and truly follow in Christ’s ways. Can’t you hear the agonizing screams from Trump all the way from here to Calcutta in response to His Holiness’ directive?
My next candidate would be all the people who deal in racism in our country (too many to name here, but Breitbart.com, Fox News, Drudge Report, Rush Limbaugh, you know who you are). I’d roll them all up into one giant stinky, sewage-smelling ball and have them present themselves to the Pope as the sheer evil they are while their rhetoric calls forth the demon Bigotry to reassert its stronghold in our country again.
Cartoon Used by Permission: Bill Day, www.caglecartoons.com
I don’t think Pope Francis would let them utter a word in their defense because he’s seen it all before in other parts of the globe. He’d simply nod his head with considerable sadness and say:
Then he would probably tell the lot of them to “go and sin no more,” and perhaps command them to take a vow of silence for a year or so. And maybe he’d make them do penance as helpers in soup kitchens, homeless shelters, inner-city community centers, and prisons all over the country until their hearts were broken for the down-trodden and the disadvantaged and they’d forgotten all their racist rhetoric.
I’d also bring along that great atheist liberal, Bill Maher, who I have a love-hate relationship with. In the interest of full disclosure, I watch his show every week—he makes me think and he is right about a lot of things, but sometimes he makes me throw up in my mouth over some of his comments about God. (When he’s good, he’s very, very good, but when he’s on his anti-Christian rag, he’s a royal pain in the ass, and he is so smug and arrogant about it.) I’d encourage him to make his atheist case that he thinks is the whole truth and nothing but the truth, because the truth is, the Pope can handle it and so can God. And the truth is (unfortunately), some of his observations are accurate, and the church needs to hear them, repent of them, and move on from them.
Papa Francis would probably listen to Bill, smile, and tell him that he is loved—speaking to him as one does to a precocious teenager who thinks they know it all, but you know that they just need to grow up and open their eyes to see things from a different angle while being enveloped in your unconditional love as they keep on exploring, doubting, and asking questions without feeling condemned. Besides, if I know anything about this Pope, he can handle the truth.
Then Pope Francis would probably ask Bill Maher to try and give up the F-word for Lent. It would probably cut Bill’s HBO program down by 15 minutes—enough to add another guest on the panel of his irreverent, but intellectually stimulating show.
As for my personal audience with the Pope, I’m sure I’d whine about my own disillusionment with the church and its involvement with right-wing politics until I got on his ever-loving nerves. I’d give him a copy of my book (Fleeing Oz), and tell him how it is a humorous template for “how not to do church” and something he should read. He would probably gently cut me off (not out of rudeness but to save my own sanity and his, and to stop my self-serving book pitch). He’d remind me of the true vision of what church should be and charge me to be a good Christian by going back into the fray and doing my part to make Christ’s vision of the church happen in my little corner of the world.
THE BLOGGER’S “SELAH” (“AHA” MOMENT) ABOUT POPE FRANCIS
I am discovering that there are some things I agree with the Pope on (income inequality, immigration, climate change, and poverty issues) and many things I do not (his opposition to same-sex marriage, women priests, married priests, divorce, birth control and abortion in extenuating circumstances). But I think the reason I’m drawn to him is because of his love for humanity, his humility, his compassion, and his acts of forgiveness. And I love his kindness. I like that he is trying to emulate the life of Christ, and even though we don’t agree on some things, at least we can met on the human ground of love, humility, compassion, and forgiveness. Just think how much better the world would be if we all could start there. Maybe he will help us. Welcome to America, Pope Francis!
Cartoon by Stuart Carlson: www.carlsontoons.com
POPE FRANCIS QUOTES
“If one has the answers to all the questions – that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble.”—Pope Francis
“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.”—Pope Francis
“We have observed that, in society and the world in which we live, selfishness has increased more than love for others, and that men of good will must work, each with his own strengths and expertise, to ensure that love for others increases until it is equal and possibly exceeds love for oneself.”—Pope Francis
“This is me, a sinner on whom the Lord has turned his gaze. And this is what I said when they asked me if I would accept my election as pontiff. I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I accept in a spirit of penance.”—Pope Francis
“I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life. God is in everyone’s life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else – God is in this person’s life. You can – you must – try to seek God in every human life.”—Pope Francis
ALL QUOTES ARE FROM www.brainyquotes.com
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Cartoon used by permission: Pat Bagley, http://www.caglecartoons.com