Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"Like Pope Francis? You’ll love Jesus": misreading the pope

Excerpts from "Like Pope Francis? You’ll love Jesus." by Elizabeth Tenety:
..As a practicing Catholic blogging my way around Washington for the past six years, I never imagined I’d see the often-snarky mainstream media — including some of its more liberal outposts — falling so hard for a 76-year-old celibate guy who believes that God had a son, born to a virgin, who was sent to redeem the world from sin. But that’s the Francis Effect. No surprise, then, that Time took the final, logical step: Slapping Francis on the cover of its “Person of the Year” issue is a sort of secular canonization.
“In a matter of months, Francis has elevated the healing mission of the church — the church as servant and comforter of hurting people in an often harsh world — above the doctrinal police work so important to his recent predecessors,” Time’s profile said. “John Paul II and Benedict XVI were professors of theology. Francis is a former janitor, nightclub bouncer, chemical technician and literature teacher.”

...But Francis isn’t trying to win a popularity contest. And there’s still a lot in his beliefs, and in the church’s teachings, that rankle the very modern culture that is embracing him. Sure, Francis has talked about not judging gay people who seek the Lord, called for greater inclusion of women in Catholic leadership, and critiqued the “obsessed” narrow-mindedness of those in the church who care only about contraception, same-sex marriage and abortion. But he also said, while arguing against gay marriage as bishop in Argentina, that efforts to redefine marriage were inspired by Satan. He’s affirmed the church’s prohibition on female priests and declared that the church’s rejection of a woman’s right to abortion “is not something subject to alleged reforms.” How come nobody is paying attention to this Francis?

...This is the pope who denounces clericalism (the notion that church officials are holier than the laity), calls for a reexamination of structures that prevent “a more incisive female presence in the church” and asserts that God has redeemed “all of us . . . even the atheists.” But as New York Times columnist Ross Douthat put it, Francis is “innovating within the bounds of tradition.” He makes everyone feel a bit uncomfortable, because that’s what Christianity is supposed to do.
Thus the concern on the right that Francis is some sort of liberal relativist, a leftist political organizer in a papal mitre, seems overblown. If he’s a religious revolutionary, he is so no more than Jesus was.
So when Rush Limbaugh, that great arbiter of true Christianity, says that what’s coming out of the pope’s mouth is “pure Marxism ,” when Sarah Palin frets that Francis is “kind of liberal” and when Fox News’s Adam Shaw calls him “the Catholic Church’s Obama ,” they’re just distorting the secular left’s dreams into their own worst nightmares.

...Both left and right need to wake up. Francis is, at his heart, a spiritual leader. His mission may have political implications, but he has come to serve God, not to advance the platform of the Democratic Party — and it’s presumptuous to imagine otherwise. Even in discussions of economic inequality, Francis sees the primacy of the faith: “I am firmly convinced that openness to the transcendent can bring about a new political and economic mindset that would help to break down the wall of separation between the economy and the common good of society,” he writes in “Evangelii Gaudium.” Oh, my: Sounds like Francis believes in trickle-down transcendence.
...Don’t worry if you’ve misread Francis till now, or projected your own political projects or fears onto him. Francis, after all, attends confession every two weeks. He believes in repentance.
Go and sin no more.  link

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