The Moral Universe – Politician or Holy Man?


I started to write this blog a couple of weeks ago, but then decided it was out of date. The subject of Pope Francis meeting Kim Davis has come up again, however, so I’ve decided to push on with it.

After Jorge Bergoglio was elected the 266th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, it didn’t take long for memes to start showing up on Facebook. As they did, liberal non-Catholics and ex-Catholics sat up and took notice. Hmm, we thought at first, this guy isn’t so bad for a pope.

Then we read about his refusal to wear the red shoes and his insistence on living in a more humble manner than previous popes, and when he went on to show his clear affinity for the poor and dispossessed, and he spoke out against the oppression of the poor and started turning the conversation away from abortion and gay marriage to climate change and immigration, well, we were ready to kiss Pope Francis’ feet. And we gave him the highest accolade we could think of: We called him a progressive!

Then he came to the United States.

Pope Francis came to America with a bang. We hung on his every word, wanting to hear him endorse everything we liberals believe in. When he left, many liberals were angry at him and hurt that he didn’t turn out to be, well, the Messiah of Progressivism.

It started out well. When President Obama introduced him on the Tuesday, the first thing the Pope said referred to our all being immigrants. “Yay,” we said. The next day he gestured for a Latino child to be brought to him; he kissed and hugged her and took her note asking him to help her parents be allowed to stay in the country. “Bravo,” we shouted.

He addressed Congress and talked about climate change and poverty and all our hot-button issues and then went and had lunch at a homeless shelter. “It’s the Second Coming,” we cried in adoration.

In New York the Pope went to Harlem; in Philadelphia he visited a prison. Could it have gotten any better?

The chatter started on Facebook before his plane had even left the ground. “He said women will never be priests,” the feminists complained. “He didn’t’ endorse gay marriage,” the LGBTQ faction said. And the worst: “HE MET KIM DAVIS – ohmygod he’s the Antichrist!” And then we liberals weren’t so sure about this Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis.

For once in my life, I reserved judgment through the backlash. I’m often one of the worst liberal reactionaries, but because I truly admire this man, I decided to wait things out and see what other news came out. And of course we learned that Pope Francis met a lot of people the Nunciature had scheduled, because that is a right of the Nunciature. One of them was Kim Davis. So many people decided this meant the Pope was endorsing her bizarre, loveless form of Christianity, even though we also learned that the only person the Pope personally invited to the Papal Embassy was a former student who is gay and who brought his partner.

The trouble is, I believe, partly that we want people we like to be enemies of our enemies. The rest of it is that we have made love, hope, and charity political issues rather than human issues. When someone comes along who has large name recognition and influence, we want them to toss the love, hope, and charity overboard and focus on what makes us angry, such as Kim Davis.

Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, and now Pope Francis have all espoused theologies and philosophies that progressives agree with; because of that, we expect them to act like politicians rather than the holy men they are.

The way I see it, Pope Francis’s basic aim is not to make liberals happy. Aside from being the head of the Church of Rome, he has clearly shown his desire to walk in Jesus Christ’s footsteps. He is not a liberal or a conservative, a Democrat or a Republican, right wing or left wing. He appears to try to meet everyone where they are, whether it be Kim Davis or incarcerated people or former students who happen to be gay. And he appears to be truly trying to bring hope with him wherever he goes.

We heard Pope Francis ask many, many people he met to pray for him. That is not the request of someone who thinks he has all the answers and whose mind is made up on every subject. I find it very refreshing, and holy.


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