Over the years the Catholic Church has been the pun of many jokes, and a target used by many to point out everything that’s wrong, corrupt and hypocritical about religion. And rightfully so. But since the selection of Pope Francis, there’s been a new and refreshing message that’s been flowing through the church.
For the first time in my life I’ve seen non-Christians speak highly of a pope. Not only that, I’ve met people who hadn’t practiced the Catholic religion in years return to the fold. Hell, I’ve even seen atheists heap praise on Pope Francis.
But what makes Pope Francis so transcendent? To me, it’s that he’s actually trying to be a pope that pushes the Catholic Church to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. You know, the whole help the poor, feed the hungry, provide for the needy, forgive your enemy, accept those who are different and love thy neighbor thing.
He’s done this by telling the church to focus less on abortion (and other social issues) and devote more time to helping the poor. He’s pushed the church to ease its stance on homosexuality. He’s spoken out against economic theories that are based on giving more to the rich with the promise that it will overflow to the rest of us (aka trickle-down economics). He’s even added more regulations to the Vatican banking system in an effort to eliminate the rampant corruption within it.
For those keeping track, that’s a pope who’s:
- Told people to help the poor, not cut funding for programs that do just that.
- Attempting to soften the church’s stance on homosexuality, not push for laws that further condemn it.
- Called trickle-down economics a failed theory, not supported more policies which perpetuate its flawed premise.
- Added tighter regulations to curb corruption in the Vatican financial system, not pushed for rules that would deregulate it even more.
In other words, he’s supporting many of the same social and economic philosophies that liberals do.
But how could this be? Aren’t Republicans the “party for Christian values” and Democrats the party of the “God-hating liberal”?
Can anyone really deny that Pope Francis, and his seemingly liberal take on Christianity, has done more to change the negative perception of Christianity than anyone has in recent memory?
Yet while he’s done that (while clearly favoring a more “liberal” take on Christianity), right-wing religious radicals continue to drive more and more people away from Christianity here in the United States.
So, we have a pope who’s driving the most liberal leadership the Catholic Church has ever seen bringing people together, and to Christianity, while conservative religious radicals continue to drive them away.
He’s done this by talking to people, not at them. By accepting people, not judging them. By helping the poor, not vilifying them. By preaching love, not hate. And he’s done all of this by standing for values that are nearly the complete opposite of everything these right-wing radicals represent.
Because at the end of the day, Pope Francis has drastically improved the way people view the Catholic Church, and Christianity as a whole, by acting more like a liberal – not a conservative.
Kind of like another liberal – named Jesus Christ.
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