Monday, December 02, 2013

The Pope Is Dope

Although I am not a Catholic, I survived Catholic school, where I learned a thing or two about a Pope or two. So, I can say with all sincerity that the new Pope is dope. My papal-span is like an arc, beginning with Pius XII, who was sometimes referred to as "Hitler's Pope," and ending with Benedict XVI, formerly Joseph Ratzinger, Jr. of the Hitler Youth and the Nazi infantry. The resigned Pope's father, Joseph Ratzinger, Sr., was a member of the Nazi "Order-Police," under the control of the SS, an inconvenient fact that was whitewashed from Pope Benedict's Wikipedia bio. I guess Benedict took his red Prada shoes of the fisherman into retirement with him since Pope Francis would never tolerate such a display of personal vanity. In his short tenure as Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis has given the faithful so much change and hope for the future, he should be called the Barack Obama of Catholicism.

Pope Francis was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio on Dec. 17, 1936. I believe that any Pope who shares my birthday must be destined for greatness. Now I have someone to brag about who was born on the same day as I was besides such Catholic luminaries as Manny Pacquiao, Bob Guccione, and Chris Mathews. It's no coincidence that the new Pope took the name Francis. Born in Buenos Aires, which has one of the largest concentrations of poor of any major city in the world, the new Pope is named for Francis of Assisi, the saint mostly known for his concern for the well being of the poor. Pope Francis has stated that he will remain in the Vatican guesthouse rather than live in the apostolic Palace and he will motor around Vatican City in a 1984 Renault with 186,000 miles on the speedometer. I'm certain the Vatican's guesthouses are nice digs, but it takes discipline to refuse the Palace. Most startling of all was the manifesto written by the Pope last August and released last week.  The 224 page "apostolic exhortation," is called the Joy of Gospel, and though it was mainly written as instruction for priests and pastoral workers, Vatican correspondent John L. Allen wrote in The Catholic Reporter that the work "amounts to Francis' 'I Have a Dream' speech." While adhering to basic Catholic tenets, Francis' populist views, according to Charles Camosy of Fordham University, "would likely be considered too liberal for a prime-time speaking slot at the 2016 DNC convention,"

Of course, Americans of a certain political bent have rejected the Pope's message as radical leftist propaganda. Famous Christian thinker Sarah Palin reared her ugly head to declare the Pope as far too liberal. Other politicians have had so many running commentaries that differ with the Pontiff, I thought it might be fun to compare some quotes:

"Some people continue to defend trickle-down economic theories that place a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power."  Pope Francis
"The supply-side claim is not a claim. It is empirically true and historically convincing that with lower rates of taxation on labor and capital, the factors of production, you’ll get a bigger economy." Former Vice Presidential candidate Jack Kemp

"Justice requires...mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income." Pope Francis
"I know there are some who believe that if you simply take from some and give to others then we’ll all be better off. It’s known as redistribution. It’s never been a characteristic of America."  Mitt Romney

"It is vital that government leaders take heed and broaden their horizons, working to ensure that all citizens have dignified work, education, and healthcare." Pope Francis
"And what is Obamacare? It is a law as destructive to personal and individual liberty as the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 that allowed slave owners to come to New Hampshire and seize African Americans and use the federal courts to take them back to federal… to slave states.”  New Hampshire State Representative Bill O'Brien

"The Church has no wish to hold back the marvelous progress of science. On the contrary, she rejoices and even delights in acknowledging the enormous potential that God has given to the human mind."  Pope Francis
"All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the big bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell."  Georgia Rep. Paul Broun

"Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape."  Pope Francis
"You can't help those who simply will not be helped. One problem that we've had, even in the best of times, is people who are sleeping on the grates, the homeless who are homeless, you might say, by choice."  Ronald Reagan

"I exhort all countries to a generous openness which, rather than fearing the loss of local identity, will prove capable of creating new forms of cultural synthesis."  Pope Francis
"Just build the damn fence." Senator John McCain

It's so refreshing to hear the Pope say, "We have to state without mincing words that there is an inseparable bond between our faith and the poor." Francis expounded that there could be "no solution" to the world's ills until "the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality." This stuff is enough to make a free-market capitalist's head explode. "I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor." Oh oh. The Pontiff just took out the entire Republican Congressional Caucus. Pope Francis' message appears to be resonating. His favorability rating among Catholics is almost 80 percent and lapsed members are returning to their churches with a renewed commitment. It's incredible what one dedicated man can do to restore faith to a disillusioned people. Just ask Jesus.



Cary in Boulder said...

I already wondered aloud to my wife whether Pope Francis has placed a bullseye on his head for these comments. Didn't we learn in the '60s that prominent people of power are not allowed to talk like this?

One little nit to pick, Randy: it's church "tenets," not tenants.

Your Sisrer said...

Wonderful! You're so informed and brilliant.

Anonymous said...

Maybe your best and most important article yet; especially w/ so many crazies, and I include many Catholics amongst them, out there talking trash.

Tom Lowe said...

To Randy from the grammar nazi:

In the last paragraph shouldn't the following words: "...there could be 'no solution' to the world's ills until 'the problems of the poor are not radically..." be as follows: "...there could be 'no solution' to the world's ills so long as 'the problems of the poor are not radically..."

Excellent article, by the way.

Alan said...

Randy, you and the rest are so egotistical to think the Pope was talking about the US. There is a big world out there where inequality is much greater than here. The Pope comes from a country where it is one of the worst in the world. Add in India, China and Africa and the inequalities of wealth are staggering. The US is not even in the same universe. By the way Glenn Beck really likes Pope Francis.

performs said...

I am also quite happy to know that Pope Francis is so sincerely inspired by his namesake, Saint Francis of Assisi. The lasting values he dares to preach and uphold have for the past thirty or so years been trashed by American conventional culture or competition, consumerism, and cruelty. Humanity's values have been turned upside down. What was considered virtuous when I was a child is now considered naive, silly or crazy, while what was considered vicious (sinful) are today's means for attaining material success. All this is fostered by the human weaknesses of ignorance, arrogance and greed. It is great that Pope Francis is proving to have a positive influence on our upside down world. Here is a link to an interview of another wise man espousing the same attitudes:

performs said...

Good for the Pope to dare to question the role of capitalism in today's world--capitalism which has for years now been accepted by the masses as the holiest of holies. Here is a letter to the editor the San Francisco Chronicle published in 1997:


Editor -- An extracted quote from "Microsoft's Power Player" V-P Steve Ballmer reads, "I'm not apologetic. This is America. This is capitalism." Please take a minute to consider what is being said. What do these statements imply?

I wonder if anyone "hears" what I do? I "hear" the following.

"I'm allowed to use aggressive business practices short of breaking laws, because in America we not only excuse and accept that, we expect and respect that. I believe my business practices are admired by real Americans, even those who suffer personally from their results. American capitalism grants me the liberty to allow free reign to my own self-interest. I prize my personal success above all else. I'm a competitor in this game we call the free market. That small voice inside me is not relevant, for this is not about morality, humanity, or caring. This is every man for himself. This is about what I'm doing and what I'm good at -- winning. This is America." -Ron Greenstein, El Cerrito