Thoughts on Pope Francis

I have been watching with great interest the coverage of Pope Francis’ visit to America.  I watched his address to Congress.  I watched his speech in the rose garden.  I watched the prayer service in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, and, finally, I watched the Mass at Madison Square Garden.  I now await his arrival in Philadelphia.

In watching all of this, I was hoping to find something about Pope Francis that would inspire me.  Leading up to his visit, I had already formed my own opinion of the man, and, to put it as diplomatically as I can, my conclusion is not a favorable one.

As I listened to the Pope speak, my goal was to find a message that was bold and truly Catholic.  I was looking to hear a direct proclamation to all Catholics that told them you cannot believe in or show support of certain social issues and still call yourself a Catholic.  Instead, he made indirect references in certain areas while being direct in other areas where, in my opinion, the Pope should not be inserting himself.

To keep this post as concise as possible, I have focused on two points he made during his address to Congress.

The first, was about life.  To quote his Holiness, “The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.”

When I heard this, chills went up and down my spine.  Thinking about the recent atrocities from planned parenthood, I was certain he was going to address the millions of babies that have been murdered in America.  Unfortunately, my heart sank as he went on to say, “this conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty.”

Wow.  What a disappointment.  He had a captive audience.  He had a chance to end abortion right then and there.  Yet, he chose to focus on the evildoers of our land.  He chose to speak up for murderers, drug dealers, and child molesters.  So so sad.  If you want an example of what he should have said, please watch the following:

This was from a prayer breakfast in 1994.  When the camera pans out in the beginning of the video, you will see two people who are not clapping.  Take a guess at who those two are.

Moving on, the Pope had another opportunity to speak to all Catholics, and all people of America for that matter, about what marriage means to not only Christians, but also to society.

Again, I became extremely hopeful when he said, “I will end my visit to your country in Philadelphia, where I will take part in the World Meeting of Families. It is my wish that throughout my visit the family should be a recurrent theme. How essential the family has been to the building of this country! And how worthy it remains of our support and encouragement! Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.”

Again, he continues but rather than talk about the sanctity of marriage, he talks about children and the youth and abuse, etc., which, do not misunderstand, is important and a great message.

But, he had the moment.  He had us all listening.  He could have talked about marriage and clearly said it is between one man and one woman.  He could have talked about the destruction of the family as a whole, addressing illegitimacy due to our free-sex society.  He could have talked about our material obsessions causing us to leave our children in daycare as opposed to raising our children the way parents did for generations before us.  He could have tied it all back to traditional values and the importance of gender differences and the importance of a traditional mother-father relationship and what it means to recognize marriage as one thing and one thing only: a union between one man and one woman.

The Pope chose to give us ambiguity on these important items, yet he was quite direct about immigration, “climate change”, the death penalty, et al.  I ask myself, as do millions of other Catholics like me, why?

For now, I do not have the energy to focus on why I think he is doing what he is doing.  Quite frankly, my answer is too upsetting to put into written words.  All I can say is that, as a recent convert to Catholicism, I am sadly disappointed in the first Pope I have ever paid attention to.  I only hope I live to see and follow a Pope who is as frank and brave as Mother Teresa was in the video above.  From what I have read about Pope John Paul II, I pray that I live to see the day when a Holy Father presides over our Faith the way he did.

For now, I continue to pray for Pope Francis.



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