President Pope Francis

I know Pope Francis is a subject I should stay away from. Religion is such a personal issue, and above all else in our Constitution, I revere the right of everyone to freely believe as they please – as long as they don’t want me killed for refusing to convert. However, Pope Francis himself has chosen to go outside his role as the Vicar of Christ for the Catholic Church and enter the political arena. That makes him fair game for criticism.

To be sure, he couches his politics in the faith of the church, but then again, even non-church going Christians like President Obama and the Clintons will frequently use the Bible to support their political agendas. Taken as a whole, his non-doctrinal positions on capitalism, illegal immigration, and the environment, and his soft postures on so-called ‘social issues’ like abortion, divorce, and homosexuality, exude a strong leftist aura.

Barack Obama, who’s own Christianity is a mysterious mix of faith and liberal politics, can sniff out a fellow traveler even behind a clerical robe. Though not a publicly devout Christian, the President is a devout opportunist, and his razor-sharp political senses have detected a kindred spirit in Pope Francis.

It is not a small thing that the President decided to make a huge fuss over the Pope. Obama thinks nothing of shunning the Prime Ministers of allies like Israel and England, as well as assorted Dalai Llamas and Evangelical Christian leaders. Then, he inexplicably roles out the red carpet for a leader whose Catholic Church holds stated positions on social issues that are directly opposite to his.

So what is it that President Obama sees in Pope Francis? Some say that Obama is just showing the proper respect due to the most popular figurehead of Christianity – the world’s largest religious faith. Others hope to believe that the President’s own Christian faith is moved by the Pope’s appearance, and he is finally putting to rest the charges that he is secretly a Muslim.

However, most thinking people believe as I do, that President Obama’s every action is politically motivated, and he figures to advance that agenda by aligning himself with the Pope. Even as Arab leaders recognize that Obama is inwardly sympathetic to their cause and speaks against them only out of political expediency, so the President believes the Pope is a fellow liberal who is working surreptitiously to liberalize the Catholic Church.

As for Pope Francis, one would have to be blinded by faith to believe all his words are divinely inspired. Senator Marco Rubio – himself a devout Catholic – says he believes the Pope to be infallible on church doctrine, but merely voicing the opinions of a man when it comes to political issues. Pope Francis certainly has a right, and even maybe an obligation to speak out on issues like immigration, but let us recognize that politics are as much in play at the Vatican as they are in our American Congress.

The College of Cardinals – the Vatican’s equivalent of our Congress – is every bit as political as our Washington establishment. Each cardinal is presumably an exceptionally dedicated priest, but still human. Like our elected leaders, they come as highly principled representatives of their faithful parishioners, and then have to deal with the reality of power politics when they convene in the Vatican.

Unlike our government, which is supposed to be transparent, the College of Cardinals is a highly secretive group, and its privileged members rarely blab about what goes on behind closed doors. Technically, they have no power to rule, but only serve as advisors to the Pope. In reality, without the support of the Cardinals, the Pope is in a highly precarious position, as witness Pope Benedict XVI.

Pope Benedict was deposed by non-support from the Cardinals. His resignation was not because of his ‘waning physical and mental powers’, but because the Cardinals wanted a certified liberal to lead them through the minefields of the twenty first century. Pope Francis, an Argentinian and the first Pope from the Americas, has proved to be the exact force of change the Cardinals wanted.

The English and Spanish speaking nations of the world – including the United States – supply the money for the Vatican empire. All have gravitated away from the Judeo-Christian values of individual liberty and personal responsibility, towards socialism and secular societies in which all traditional social restraints are eliminated. The Catholic hierarchy recognizes this reality and believes the Church must adapt, rather than try to buck the tide of hedonism and religious indifference that is engulfing the world.

The political words of Pope Francis are pretty much in line with prevailing thought in the western hemisphere. The Spanish speaking nations of the Americas are both envious and resentful of the wealth and political stability of the norte Americanos. Hearing an American president persistently trash his own country gives the Pope and other leaders the confidence to voice their own criticisms of the world’s ‘super power’.

Pope Francis has been highly critical of capitalism – especially the American brand. Yet capitalism is the Vatican’s best friend. It has not only made the Catholic Church the world’s second wealthiest financial power after the United States, but has raised more people out of poverty than any economic system in history. Political expediency seems the only possible motive for Pope Francis’ continuing denigration of capitalism.

The Pope also chastises us on immigration. He seems to think the United States should open both it’s borders and it’s treasury to take in all of the world’s poor. The temptation is to say “you first”. But in the same way that America’s capitalistic wealth and example raise the standard of living for the whole world, the wealth of the Catholic Church is used to accomplish monumental good throughout the world.

Should the Vatican sell off it’s treasures and impoverish itself to feed the world, what would then happen when all the money is gone? Who would fund the extensive number of hospitals, schools and charities that the Church maintains? Who would send workers to third world nations to help ease their misery? And indeed, who would bring the incredible gift of Christian love and salvation to a tumultuous world?

It appears that both the Pope and President Obama seem to think the world would be a better place if the United States is knocked off its pedestal. Somehow the world will benefit if we bring America down to the level of other countries, rather than attempting to raise other nations up the level of America. Sorry to my Catholic friends, but when the Pope delves into these political issues, he can be just as wrong as our President.

As for the Catholic Church’s doctrinal and social issues, I would not presume to voice an opinion. However, it is apparent even to outsiders that the Church has pressing problems with divorce, birth control, abortion, and celibacy. But the eight hundred pound gorilla in the church, is surely the Vatican’s interminable homosexual headache.

From priests who have sexually abused little boys, to the legalization of same-sex marriage, and homosexuality amongst the supposedly celibate priesthood, the Catholic Church has a fractious internal issue that must be dealt with. Additionally, courts around the world are routinely ruling against religious conscience, and it is highly likely that Christians will soon be forced to revise their faiths according to government dictates, or face the loss of tax exemptions and possible imprisonment.

How the Catholic Church will deal with homosexuality is anyone’s guess. In reality, it is not just a Catholic problem, but a critical matter for all of Christianity. At stake, is nothing less than whether the Holy Bible as written is the divinely inspired word of God, or just a book that can simply be edited and revised to accommodate history’s ever-changing political winds.

It is my suspicion that the liberal Pope Francis was selected primarily to deal with the issue of homosexuality. As the world’s most visible face of Christianity, his leadership will have profound consequences not only for all other Christian denominations, but for the principle of ‘religious freedom’ itself.

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