I love this opinion piece by Elizabeth Tenety of the Washington Post , of all places.
Check it: Like Pope Francis? You’ll Love Jesus.
This is the most sensible reading on the way people are reacting to Pope Francis that I have seen. There is so much that is quotable.
These are the forces that see Francis as a progressive reformer, a long-awaited Catholic antidote to the religious right. None of that theological or doctrinal stuff, thank you. Just give us the humble pontiff, not like the other guy with his high-church pomp and fancy red shoes. Francis — the pope who kissed a man disfigured by a gruesome disease! The one who lives in humble quarters! The pope who took it to trickle-down economics! By critiquing the excesses of religion and politics — a criticism that resonates in media circles — Francis has given the press permission to change its narrative about the church.
But woe to those who remake the pope in their own image. If you focus only on what you like about Francis’s papacy — whatever makes you feel comfortable and smug about your own religious and political convictions — you’re doing it wrong. And you’re not seeing the real Francis.
It makes me laugh to see the liberal left gushing over how much they LOVE this pope. How FINALLY there is a pope who makes them proud to have been raised Catholic. Pope Francis, I’m sorry to have to tell you, is still operating within the confines of Church doctrine. The funny thing is, is that if they cared enough about the faith in the first place they would see that. But what most of these people do is read a few headlines or hear a talking head on MSNBC and they think they know it all.
Maybe try actually reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church or showing up at a Mass. Heck, there’s always that big book on the coffee table…you know the one? The Bible? There’s lots of good stuff in there too.
And just so I’m not accused of not being even-handed…
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.
I love Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin, but they too are not practicing Catholics. You can’t listen to any pope only through the filter of your political convictions. His job is to lead us to live a better life and get to heaven; to try to follow Jesus as best that we can. It makes me uncomfortable when ANYONE on either side of the fence starts critiquing something they don’t fully understand.
If Francis is a radical, it is like this: By speaking the language of the common person in the year 2013, in his awareness of the inspirational power of grand, symbolic gestures, through his call for everyday Catholics to embrace the simple, radical mandates of their baptism, Francis is awakening a world that was becoming dead to Christianity. If he’s breaking new ground, it’s because he’s discovered an effective way to call people to Christ.
Quoting Pope Benedict, Francis declares that “being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” That person is God.
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.
Pope Francis has a different style than Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI or Pope John Paul II. They all were called by the Church for their time. The message remains the same…maybe everyone should try actually hearing it.