A Very Popular Pope

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Pope Francis recently swept across the United States in his custom made Popemobile and drew adoring crowds everywhere he appeared. People waited in line all day to catch a glimpse of him and went into ecstasy at every sighting. This fan frenzy reminded me of the Beatlemania phenomenon of the ‘60s and of the hysterical Princess Diana cult of the ‘90s. People must have a need to worship someone. They seem to like to follow a crowd, lose their individuality and become part of something bigger than themselves.

The Pope certainly attracts this kind of popularity. “Authentic” is the favorite adjective used to describe him. He is obviously a “good” person, really cares for the disadvantaged, has a benevolent smile for everyone and radiates good will. People feel that he speaks for them and project their hopes onto him. And yet I cannot help asking myself these questions: What is so wonderful about finally recognizing that we are adversely affecting our environment and are the prime cause of global warming? We are like cancer cells destroying their own habitat. This is now a safe topic to tackle except perhaps if you live in West Virginia and believe that it is still debatable.

Population explosion is a big cause of the environmental problem. The total number of people on the planet is moving us toward Armageddon. The Vatican which is the richest organization in the world could do much to slow this event and to end poverty by endorsing birth control. It refuses to do so and opposes the use of condoms which would also help prevent AIDS.
Pope Francis has often stated that he would save homosexuals who repent. Save them from what? If they have done nothing wrong, why do they need to repent? Says Bill Maher of the papacy: “I think it is the easiest job in the world. You have tenure and you are selling an invisible product you don’t have to prove exists.” And Pope Francis would also allow atheists to go to Heaven. I think this is really funny since atheists don’t care about or believe in Heaven. It is also a pretty safe promise because no one has ever come back from Heaven to describe what it is like.

Further questions. Why can’t priests marry? Wouldn’t it solve the problem of priests abusing children? Why can’t women be priests? Women don’t want to be patronized. They don’t want to be patted on the head and told that they are wonderful creatures. What they want is equality.
The Pope apparently met with Kim Davis, the Kentucky official who refuses to marry gay people. Andy Borowitz of the New Yorker says: “Reporting every day to a job one has no intention of doing can only fill one with anguish. The pope wanted to show compassion.” It turned out that the Pope did not in fact deliver words of encouragement to Davis, but was in fact pranked into this by an American Bishop who had his own agenda.

And now we come to the Pope’s action which perturbs me the most: The beatification of Father Junipero Serra. Serra was a Franciscan priest who founded the California Missions, which were the first settlements in the area. In doing so he eradicated the culture, religion and language of the indigenous people and violently converted them. Entire populations were also wiped out by disease. The whole concept of sainthood is an archaic one. It is based on the belief in miracles and the supernatural which we should have outgrown by now. A miracle is an event which cannot be explained by scientific laws. Belief in the supernatural closes the mind against questioning and the search for a real explanation. So no matter how “liberal” and benevolent Pope Francis appears to be, he represents the Catholic Church which is based on dogma and is therefore incompatible with many of the positions he claims to support.

Editor’s note: Your comments of any character are strongly encouraged and will become part of this conversation.

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  1. Oh, Simone! I have wanted this Pope to be out of the ordinary. And in some ways he has been. In fact, the organization he represents is so powerful and so wealthy that I am surprised they have not silenced him. In the meantime, I have to say, he turns out to be a regular human being. He makes mistakes, gets duped and modifies his churches’ centuries held beliefs to only a certain level. In other words, he is just a regular Joe. I like him in spite of all that! The Sainthood decision must have come from a lot of pressure from above or from not doing his homework. I suspect the former.

  2. I see things a bit differently. Your criticism of the problems with the Church and its dogma could apply to any Pope. But Frances, because he is pushing back, to the extent he can, against some of what you dislike, has become a target for you because the contradictions are more obvious.

    The Church will always be, well, the Church. The kinds of changes in practice that you would like to see will come but it’s going to take a long while. The thing is that with a Pope like Frances, you have a much better chance of reform and improvement than has been the case for a very long time and for that, I think he merits your support.

  3. I was raised catholic, but in my early teenage years I made the decision that religion was not for me. I believe I am agnostic, but I am not sure. I might be an atheist, but I disagree with the common definition of such word. But I digress.
    I don’t disagree with many of your comments: Marriage of priests, ordaining women priests, saving people… But your passive-aggressive language eliminates any trace of credibility to your article… Your not so subtle sarcasm by putting between quotes words such as “good” and “authentic” tries to diminish credibility to someone who in just 2-3 years (I really don’t know how many) has kickstarted a transformation in his church where openness is more encouraged. I am disappointed that I took the time to read your article, and growing even more disappointed that I’m taking the time to comment.

  4. I would like to correct a misapprehension. I do truly believe that this pope is indeed good and authentic, I put the words in quotation marks because I was citing what people were saying about him . No sarcasm intended.
    At the same time he is the head of a Church that does nothing about population control and still promotes sainthood and miracles,. He is indeed hemmed in by long traditions but he is a person of good. will. I applaud him for taking some steps toward reform but he has a long way to go,.

  5. Holy smoke, Simone. Where do I start? The Church appears to be the richest organization on earth but that is such a superficial view. Could the Pope sell any of the Vatican’s artworks? How about a garage sail for ancient churches? No. These pieces of art belong to the people of the nations they are found in. The statue of David or Moses or the Pieta or Vatican paintings are Italian art. If the Church put any of these great pieces of art up for sale the Italian government would press charges. So would other governments that have major artworks in their countries that the Church must care for. The Church has to maintain these objects of art at great expense but just try to sell them to the highest bidder. The Pope never said he would “save homosexuals who repent” nor does he “allow” anyone into heaven. He never said those things–maybe they were your gloss–because he doesn’t have the power to do either. A superficial understanding of the Catholic religion would enlighten such a view as being anti-Catholic. Only God “saves” and a
    “allows” folks into heaven–though that is a poor human understanding of the spiritual lives of individuals. No one but the folks in West Virginia deny global warming? Wow. Do you watch anything going on in the U.S. congress? It’s the same in many other cultures as well. Lots of people deny the fact of global warming. This was such a superficial and puerile article. No need for saints anymore? Let’s get rid of the Medal of Honor and the Nobel Peace Prize. No use trying to develop a hero in our world today. Let’s just sweep all of the good things that the Church is doing under the rug. Where are the hospitals, universities, clinics and schools in the Third World that are run by atheists or agnostics. There are some, no doubt, but I personally work in Africa and see that the Church becomes the vehicle to encourage those who love others to work at great expense of health and money to provide for the education and health care of the poor and disenfranchised. Yes, there are problems. We are all human, after all. I encourage you to actually work in one of these villages where, without good people sharing their gifts unselfishly, there would be nothing but neglect from atheist and even agnostic and–yes–“religious” politicians and folks in the First World countries who can criticize without doing more than writing a check to a charity (if they do that). As they say, Simone; any stick to beat the Church.

  6. Dear Simone.

    One aspect that l feel like responding to your article about is ‘” marriage for priests would stop child abuse” I think this is a misconception. The priests who have actually abused children are a small fraction of the priests doing good for the church and society. You certainly dont believe that there are no cases of married people who have abused children. I think the issue of priests marrying should come from the priests themselves that you who obviously doesnt know what it means. I dont think they need a mouthpiece to talk on their behalf. Thus one small thing l wanted to correct you about.

  7. Of course married men have abused children, But isn’t more likely to happen when you have no other outlet for sexuality? Priests do not complain perhaps because they have a mistaken notion that deprivation and self sacrifice are good.

  8. Further questions. Why can’t priests marry? -Mark 10:29
    “Truly I tell you,” said Jesus, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or … or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, … of the salvation of those who have but little of this world, and leave it for Christ. … hereafter when he appeared in his glory, they should sit upon twelve thrones, …

  9. I would like to ask the author, “what do you mean by the word, “priest”, ? I think there is no exact or correct meaning for this word in English. This can be well explained by the Tamil Language word, “THURAVI” or Sannyasi = sam+ nyasi = ‘complete’ + renouncer = one who has given up everything material for the purpose of attaining God. So it is obvious that, “priests” can not marry.

  10. I enjoyed some your writing but this post just completely unravelled me. Not everyone knows everything but it’s sad when someone pretends to know something about something they know nothing about. Lacking context, cliché remarks, and the obvious dire lack of understanding and even open mindedness. I guess its why I find Peter Hitchens so refreshing. Thanks for the read. Good bye.

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