What can one say about the recent comments and actions by Pope Francis? First I learned about the Pope’s analysis on Donald Trump’s immigration control proposals; and then there was that incident in Mexico when the Pope had to chastise an enthusiastic fan. My first reaction was to think: “If you go around acting like a rock star …” but then I remembered one is not supposed to bash the Pope. It is not the first time I see an angry Jesuit and that is why I rather stay a safe distance from them just in case.
What would I have done in that situation? I would have stopped the event right there. I would have called the man aside, asking the guards to form a circle around me (the guards are those guys with guns that are always around during papal public appearances,) and I would have said to the man: “I am the Pope, I represent Jesus while He is away. Why did you do that? You showed no consideration to that disabled brother in front of you, and also disrespected my office as a Vicar of Christ. I will give you a few minutes to think about what you have done, and then I am going to hear your confession.” That would have been much better than reacting in near anger. I am an angry person myself, I do not suffer fools lightly but then, I am not the Pope. So we will leave it at that.
Regarding Donald Trump’s political agenda — whom presently I would not vote for because I consider him unqualified to be President, in spite of his good intentions — I wish the Pope would have kept his opinions to himself. Much has been said about young Bergoglio being a Peronist, and then one with leftist tendencies. That is unfortunately true of many a local priest in Buenos Aires. It is bad enough that Argentines had to suffer the consequences of Peron’s actions, there is no need to punish the whole world with century-old tired populist ideas.
I am under obligation to obey the Pope in matters of faith and morals just like I am obliged to believe that St Peter was the first Pope in spite of him denying Christ three times. I have no problem with that and yet I do not have to agree with the Pope’s ideas on economics, the environment, or on how to manage American immigration problems. Personally, someone who believes in Peronism or Marxism is hardly worthy of any intellectual respect. As a Catholic and, may I add as a Catholic with Argentine roots, I still remember the burning, looting, and desecration of churches by the Peronist hordes, a practice that remains to this day (see image, forgive how crude it is but I had to make my point.) I am at a complete loss on how one can sympathize with the ideas of those obviously deranged people, and at the same time be a Catholic in good standing.
All I can say is that I am terribly ashamed by the sexual scandals in the Church, a problem that is still to be addressed; and I am also very ashamed by the intellectual simplicity of the Pope. This makes me think that perhaps God is about to do something very big through him and Our Lord does not want us to attribute that great accomplishment to the Pope’s intellectual, or spiritual prowess. St Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:27 that “God chose the foolish in this world to shame the wise.” Let it all happen according to His will. Quoting St Paul again: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Lord grant us patience to endure our pastors, and those who persecute us.
I like what you would have said, Carlos, to the man in Mexico who was grabbing the Pope, and admire how you would have handled the situation. Being a fiery phoenix, I have a temper, and can only hope that if I were in the position of Pope Francis, I would have reacted as well as he did to the man in the crowd pulling him down on top of the disabled man.
I think there is a fiery saint who may have reacted the way Pope Francis did. I refer to Padre Pio, who had no trouble calling people out on their sins, if he felt the situation warranted it. I post below one example from a website containing some interesting reading on the subject:
“A man once went to St. Giovanni Rotondo to confess to Padre Pio. It was between 1954 and 1955. When he finished the accusation of his sins Padre Pio said: “Do you have anything else to confess?” and he said, “No Father!” He repeated the question: “Do you have anything else to confess?” “No Father!” For a third time Padre Pio asked him: “Do you have anything else to confess? At this third negative answer the hurricane exploded. With the voice of the Holy Spirit Padre Pio howled: “Go away! Go away! Because you are not reformed of your sins!”
“The man was also petrified because of the shame that he felt in front of so many people. Then he tried to say something but Padre Pio said: “Keep silent, gossiper, you have spoken enough; I now want to speak. Is it true that you go to discos?” “Yes, Father.” “Do you know that dancing is an invitation to the sin?”
“The man was surprised and he didn’t know what to say: he had the membership card of a disco in his wallet. The man promised not to commit any other sins and after a lot of effort he received absolution.”
In my own life, there was a nun named Sr. Monica who had the gift of healing and who would pray over sick people after a charismatic healing Mass. On one occasion, I brought a friend of mine to the healing service because this friend was complaining about physical problems. Now normally, Sr. Monica was always very gentle and kindly and compassionate with the sick who came to the chapel. But not this time. My friend approached Sr. Monica before Mass and asked where the bathroom was. In a loud voice (very unusual because the good sister always called for holy silence in the presence of our Eucharistic Lord in the tabernacle), she publicly scolded my friend, telling her she should have used the bathroom before coming … and then finally telling her where the bathroom was. This incident puzzled me very much at the time. Later on, I discovered that my friend had bulimia, and that it was very likely she wanted to use the bathroom for an evil purpose. Apparently, the Holy Spirit allowed Sr. Monica to sense that.
I am thinking that there are different ways to handle different people. For some, a gentle approach is absolutely necessary. For others, maybe the only thing that will get their attention is some tough love.
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Thank you for a great reflection, Phoenix. I hope I was not disrespectful to Pope Francis. I think many in the high echelons of the Church do not seem to be aware of the gravitas of their office. I also understand that each Pope is God’s personal envoy to the world in each age. God is the great benefactor Who wants our salvation. If this is what we get, this is what we need. We must receive it with joy even if a little puzzled!
I continue to keep my head down and blinders on where Pope Francis is concerned, Carlos. It would drive me crazy to parse every one of his blunders so I usually read the headlines and move on. As you said, God must have a greater purpose for the Pope and for us so I’ve decided that it’s easier to maintain peace in my heart (which isn’t easy, regardless!) if I maintain some distance from papal news and politics.
That said, I don’t think you were at all disrespectful. You write what most of us are thinking!
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God does everything for our good, all his actions are beneficial. Even when He permits errors and evil to touch our lives, all of that in the end will work for our own good. God is always a benefactor seeking the salvation of all. I must admit that sometimes it is frustrating to deal with the actions of priests, cardinals, bishops, popes, etc. But I am not in their place and all I can do is try to help the cause of Christianity in my own small way. The true dimension of our service is still to be revealed. There are men and women in this world who consider themselves utterly insignificant but in the mystery of the Cross they may be actually very important. God knows everything and NOTHING escapes His attention. The Pope will continue doing things we cannot understand but one thing we know is that God will make good of all his actions in the end. “All’s well that ends well” and often enough there is “Much ado about nothing!” 🙂
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Carlos, a very revealing article. Personally, I have been struggling to understand Pope Francis for quite a while and after recent events have been approaching the conclusion that, at least in some respects, he is not, God bless him, too bright.
I lately came across an article by an Argentinian priest about him in the Catholic Herald from 2005 when he came to prominence as runner-up at that year’s conclave. He was described as a practical, holy and orthodoxly devout man who published little or nothing of note. Intriguingly, he was portrayed as a man of few words. This makes me suspect that he is coping with difficulty in his role as pope, perhaps feeling it his duty to comment on matters that present themselves to him and over-compensating with hastily improvised and poorly briefed verbiage. Even Laudato Si, despite much opportunity for preparation, seems poorly edited and over-long.
Finally, a small quibble! Regarding Mr Trump, I think it a boon that he is “unqualified” for the job of presidency. Perhaps he might make a better job of it. Think of all the chaos and disaster wreaked by professional politicians, in the past and currently.
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Ah, Mickvet! I like the “Trump effect” currently affecting the primaries. I cannot agree with him on abortion, or eminent domain. Those are very important issues in which he has defined himself as pro-choice, pro-Planned Parenthood and, regarding eminent domain he has been very clear that ‘business development’ trumps (pun not intended) private property rights. Having said that, I appreciate his sincerity and I think the man means well. But those two principles I mentioned are non-negotiable in my book.
Since the first week after the last Papal Conclave I have been writing about Pope Francis, and I have always tried to present his positive side. Yet in the last few months he has done a few things that are frankly incomprehensible to me. My readers know that I am a big believer in letting God make good from errors or even from evil. Our Church has a hierarchy but I still think God is in charge. Bergoglio is not even a bad Pope, that takes some effort (Alexander VI?) and requires contending strongly with the Holy Spirit. I think he is like Peter: one ordinary individual caught in extraordinary circumstances that are way above his ability to understand. Through God’s grace though, he may end up being a Pope remembered through the ages. In the days to come we will know more. His 1100th day in office coincides with the end of Lent, with a lunar eclipse, and the 13th day of Adar in the Hebrew calendar (the fast of Esther.) That’s got to mean something although I can’t quite imagine what!
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Carlos, Trump has recently stated publicly that he will defund Planned Parenthood if they do not abandon abortion. He has said that he will continue to support their other non-evil activities such as breast-cancer and cervical-cancer checks if they quit the abortion side of their business which they claim, as Trump pointed out, is only a small portion of their turn-over.
Of course, Trump has his very many faults, but he is the only candidate I can see capable of defeating the Democrat. Pope Francis has now done his bit in helping his campaign. Surely God works in mysterious ways?!
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Well, that is certainly good news. I heard him say not long ago that PP did “wonderful work” at a speech where he said also that he is “pro-choice.” In a different venue he added that eminent domain should apply in cases where “economic development” clashes with individual property rights. By “economic development” he meant a new Walmart employing x number of people vs. a farm employing less people.
I am glad to hear he has changed his position on abortion since the last time I heard him.
I still wonder if there are going to be elections at all, considering other factors. The world is heading into a very unstable period. God help us!
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I always value your perspective on Pope Francis, Carlos. I know that you have been particularly favorably disposed toward him from the beginning of his papacy because he is a fellow countryman, so I know that any criticism from your end will be well-tempered and thoughtful. So I look to you to help me be that way about him myself, a task made difficult by the hysterical nature of news reporting these days.
It strikes me that you are right to use St. Peter in your essay, perhaps as a kind of template. That is not a bad comparison when evaluating Pope Francis, and it helps me to be more humble and charitable in my evaluation of what often look like, and may be his errors. Unlike the way Pope Benedict always seemed, Pope Francis often looks like he’s found himself in over his head, just like St. Peter seemed to be from time to time.
As for Trump, I’m with Mick. I heard long ago that he had reevaluated his opinion on abortion and had decided he opposed it. That is very much my own journey, so I see it as credible, not just political. Tossing slop to the feminists, on the other hand, by praising PP’s “good” works is probably just that, politically convenient and maybe a little naive. If he reiterates a pro-choice stance, however, I would have to bail on him, and I’m less confident about his principles than I am of Cruz, for example. Still, I think his appeal comes from the sense that we need a street-fighter if we’re going to start loosening the grip of the version of Marxism that finally got its hands around our throat. Watching him on The Apprentice changed my negative opinion of him to one of admiration, for his common sense, cleverness, toughness, and warmth. I don’t particularly like his taste, but I think he would make a very serviceable, perhaps even a surprisingly good president.
I think people can use the same caveat when evaluating both Pope Francis and Trump: try not to listen to the Pharisees in the mainstream media. They will always lead you astray.
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Re the world heading into an unstable period, I wanted to share this quote from one Thomas Stearns Eliot. It is in an essay that he wrote c. 1930:
“The World is trying the experiment of attempting to form a civilized but non-Christian mentality. The experiment will fail; but we must be very patient in awaiting its collapse; meanwhile redeeming the time: so that the Faith may be preserved alive through the dark ages before us; to renew and rebuild civilization, and save The World from suicide.”
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Thank you for a great quote, Castelletto! Responding here to both comments I must say that yes, I agree that Pope Francis is way over his head. Trying to guess what the Lord is doing here: Argentines of the Peronist persuasion are — it is almost a rule — very limited intellectually. I have said that being the son of Italian exiles who came to Argentina fleeing Mussolini, one has to be a real thick headed bloke to become a Peronist. Perón was a bad carbon copy of “il Duce” (“il Dunce” if you ask me!) God works in mysterious ways.
I agree with you also regarding Trump. He may end up being another Teddy Roosevelt. I like Trump’s TOTAL LACK of obliqueness. It is refreshing. His views on eminent domain are dangerous and made more dangerous with a GOP that has lost all sense of Conservatism.
Having said that, I am not worried. I think the world will change direction soon and elections in the US may be delayed. The planets are aligned for a serious war as spring breaks in the northern hemisphere. Russia & Turkey are playing with fire, and the rest of the world is uneasy at best.
We will see what the ides of March bring. March 23 appears ominous enough: The end of the Christian Lent falls on Adar 13 the beginning of the Fast of Queen Esther. That night there is a moon eclipse. That is also the day when Pope Francis will complete 1100 days in the chair of Peter. You know what 11 means in biblical terms: the 11th hour, the end of something approaches (Francis’ papacy?) Christ was arrested at the 11th hour, the king of Babylon was warned by the writing on the wall at the 11th hour, etc. I think this is going to be a very interesting year.
I found this short video by Ben Shapiro. It pretty much summarizes what I’ve been thinking all along. I first heard about Trump at the time he bought the New York City/Boston/Philadelphia air shuttle. That was Eastern Airlines’ cash cow. Trump bought and sold that business without any glory. To this day EAL record remains as one of the best managed American airlines of all times (until the likes of Frank Lorenzo killed it on purpose to make way for competitors who would not stand a chance to EAL’s better practices.) I am digressing but I think Conservatives are being deceived: Trump may suddenly ‘collapse’ later on, handing the presidency of the US to Hitlery. Just a warning that will go unheeded just as my musings about Obooboo in 2008. Watch the video, it lasts just a few minutes.
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