Jesus has a friend in Rome

"“You know who I freakin’ love?” gushed MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, who said he grew up Catholic but stopped attending church during his freshman year at Brown. “This new pope. Pope Francis. . . . Are you watching this guy? Because you should be. It’s early, but I’m thinking . . . best pope ever.” Of course, Hayes noted, Francis’s church still opposes “gay marriage, women in the priesthood, a woman’s autonomy over her own body.” But, hey, he explained, at least Francis isn’t “a jerk about it.”

As a practicing Catholic blogging my way around Washington for the past six years, I never imagined I’d see the often-snarky mainstream media — including some of its more liberal outposts — falling so hard for a 76-year-old celibate guy who believes that God had a son, born to a virgin, who was sent to redeem the world from sin. But that’s the Francis Effect. No surprise, then, that Time took the final, logical step: Slapping Francis on the cover of its “Person of the Year” issue is a sort of secular canonization."   Tenety in the Washington Post



The heathen intelligentsia and their media running dogs have not yet figured out a man in white who drives his own old car, lives in a vatican guest house and eats with the other residents in the dining room.  They want to believe he that he must be a radical reformer who is merely disguised as a Catholic priest while secretly sharing their humanist atheism.

They are wrong.  Francis tries to live the Gospels.  That is all.  He evidently has little tolerance for obscurantist medievalism and it is likely that he will have a revolutionary impact on church administration and such annoying trivia as the obsession with fancy dress vestments and compulsively complex liturgy.

That said, it cannot be stated too often that he will never, ever change core church teaching on abortion, capital punishment and the faith expressed in the Nicene Creed.

For Catholics abortion is murder, and that is all that needs be said.

The Church will never, ever accept the practice of same sex marriage and homosexual behavior.  Catholics are ruled by Revelation and the Natural Law.  For Catholics homosexuality is a severe distortion of the Natural Law.  End of message. 

Capital punishment is the assumption by state power of the right to kill humans who are not an immediate threat to life and limb.  End of message.

None of these positions prevents Catholic affection, indeed love, for brothers and sisters who are sinners in these matters.  That is what Francis is trying to tell people.  pl

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36 Responses to Jesus has a friend in Rome

  1. Fred says:

    “If he’s breaking new ground, it’s because he’s discovered an effective way to call people to Christ.” I think this is the sentiment so upsetting to the professional left.

  2. Thomas Alan Parker says:

    You are wildly incorrect Fred, as an atheist and a full blown member of the left for the last 50 years I can say we’re all really thrilled the Pope is speaking about excessive greed and taking care of the poor. Eff Wall Street and The City.
    The last 2 popes were fully committed to be being anti-commies (me too, 4 years in the Airborne thank you very much) and anti-democratic liberalism. Pope Francis makes me feel like making peace with the church for a change instead of thinking of them as just another wing of the of corporate machine that is the Republican party.
    I read SST to learn about the Middle East not Christian charity and faith.

  3. Laura Wilson says:

    I’m not sure it is the “professional left” that is so upset. Dorothy Day is not a strange name to the left….now the Right, on the other hand…is kinda freaking out!
    No matter…it is high time we ALL heard the Gospels preached based on the “read words” in the Catholic Bible. This Pope seems to actually have read them, internalized the message, and has no problem living out their message.
    He has recently taken on Limbaugh’s rant about how “Marxist” the Pope is…rather beautifully and from a very Christian viewpoint, I think. He is, in short, a good man.

  4. turcopolier says:

    Welcome aboard. What airborne outfit were you in? As for SST, it is a blackboard on which I organize my thoughts. pl

  5. turcopolier says:

    Laura Wilson
    Until proven wrong I will accept that he is a good man. pl

  6. Fred says:

    I read the WP article I quoted twice and find no mention of Dorthy Day, who passed away many years ago. Matthew Yglesias, however, is on the left and is quoted: “There’s a lot of stuff about Jesus in his thinking that I can’t really sign on to.”
    I am unsurprised by Rush Limbaugh’s remarks. I know a gentleman who managed to get him thrown out of an RNC meeting long ago. Hopefully as Rush’s influence continues to decline he’ll manage to do so again. I do agree with the rest of what you wrote, however.

  7. Fred says:

    I was referring to the media professionals. I read SST to learn far more than just about the Middle East, which thanks to the host and his ‘committee of correspondence’ I continue to do, including charity and faith, Christian and others too. BTW my brother was in the 82nd, two sister did tours in MI units and the 1st ID. I did two tours on submarines.

  8. Dr. K says:

    I think you mean “red print”, The words attributed to Jesus.

  9. Dr. K says:

    The only prople upset are right wing wackos like Limbaugh and Varney. Hardly the left.

  10. Thomas Alan Parker says:

    We’ve exchanged messages before Colonel, I was just an enlisted MI corp weenie (Spanish interpreter) down at Fort Bragg in the 80s. Nothing impressive.

  11. johnf says:

    Old Pope meets youthful coming-of-age generation without work and living in a war weary country
    What has been their favourite reading? Harry Potter written by Church of Scotland socialist, JK Rowling, and The Hunger Games, written by (there’s been a bit of controversy about this) Catholic Socialist Suzanne Collins.
    As a member of an older generation my contemporary literature was about liberation of the self, being “cool” (screw everyone else) or hairy chest beating super egos. Their literature is about friendship, co-operation, trust, and self-sacrifice. James Bond vs Harry Potter.

  12. Thomas Alan Parker says:

    Most everybody has family and friends who have served honorably, good for all of us. And I’ve been reading SST daily since the blog started, Pat Lang was voice in the wilderness a decade ago.
    Most of the subjects discussed by the ‘committee of correspondence’ are fascinating reading. I was just a little shocked at the anger directed at Chris Hayes, he seems to be one of the smartest and least offensive of the TV talking heads. And if I remember correctly his family has deep ties to the church. Tweety deserves abuse, not Chis Hayes.

  13. jdgalvez says:

    I think that your characterization of Benedict on economics is not quite accurate. Check out his final New Year’s message:
    Benedict’s teachings on economics also caused discomfort among conservative Catholics, see:
    It is also important to note that Francis, in responding to Limbaugh’s absurd comments noted that Marxist ideology is wrong.
    There is a lot more continuity between Benedict and Francis than the media coverage would lead one to believe. The fact is that the media was gunning for Benedict from the beginning. He was primarily a theologian rather than a pastor in his personality. Francis has a much better sense of the power of symbolism and is doing an excellent job of making his points. On the other hand, what he is saying is not a departure from Catholic doctrine at all, which should be apparent to anyone who has attended mass regularly or has interacted with Catholic Charities.

  14. Fred says:

    “Most everybody has family and friends who have served honorably….”
    The statistics do not bear out this observation. As to your comment regaring Chris Hayes and ‘Tweety’, I was making a general comment not somthing ‘abusive’.

  15. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Both stories are Manichean in their broad theme – Good vs. Evil – and thus both are more of a Zoroastrian nature than Christian.

  16. Fred says:

    The Hunger Games is about “friendship, co-operation, trust, and self-sacrifice.”? I have not read the books,perhaps they are different in detail but my take away from the movie was different than this, though I do see how some could come to this conclusion.

  17. Charles I says:

    And you have proved a sinner – this one – can love a true Catholic.

  18. toto says:

    I don’t know about the left, but this Pope is certainly raising hackles on the (far) right:

  19. optimax says:

    I thought the Hunger Games was about surviving by killing off all the other competitors. Never having seen the movie I could be wrong.

  20. Bobo says:

    Viva Francis!
    I think everyone wants to latch on and see Francis in their own light but for me this guy is shaking things up without having much to say. His actions are speaking loudly. In my little world the Parish Priest is out there on the stoop shaking hands prior to and after mass plus there are no more of those pink, blue, green or red bulletin stuffers espousing someone’s radical view being seen and everyone seems to be getting along better than they did. So Francis keep doing whatever it is your doing.

  21. johnf says:

    Or, indeed, Zurvanism.
    There is, though, openly Christian symbolism and references in both sagas. In Harry Potter he actually dies and comes back to life.
    Its interesting that Tolkien in the depths of the similarly dark 1930’s, likewise omitted all explicit references religious references in Lord of the Rings, even though he intended it as Catholic propaganda.
    I do like the picture of him and his fellow Christian conspirators – CS Lewis, Charles Williams – in the back room of the Eagle and Child in Oxford, in the midst of the 30’s darkness of fascism, communism, liberal economics and industrialisation, plotting away to write their subversive Christian propaganda.
    They were nothing then. But they’ve had a huge influence ever since.

  22. Fred says:

    That’s exactly what I found in it. Hollywood nihilism; graphicly gruesome without promise of redemption only of a sequal.

  23. Medicine Man says:

    The Pope’s response to Limbaugh’s “Marxist” comment:
    “The ideology of Marxism is wrong. But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended,” Francis was quoted as saying. Defending his criticism of the “trickle-down” theory of economics, he added: “There was the promise that once the glass had become full it would overflow and the poor would benefit. But what happens is that when it’s full to the brim, the glass magically grows, and thus nothing ever comes out for the poor … I repeat: I did not talk as a specialist but according to the social doctrine of the church. And this does not mean being a Marxist.”
    There isn’t much there for me to disagree with. I think Pope Francis has the common touch and says a lot that his focus on the social aspects of the gospels looks like a revolutionary act to so many.

  24. Tyler says:

    An urban metropolis obsessed with the latest hedonistic impulse demands sacrifice in the form of goods and children from the rural areas for their amusement.
    Am I talking about the modern US or The Hunger Games?

  25. Medicine Man says:

    I think the author of the Hunger Games wrote it that way deliberately. I know I found the vapid, gossip obsessed media in the capital strangely familiar.

  26. Thomas Alan Parker says:

    Point taken, you are correct and the folks piling on to Benedict was cruel and excessive. My only point is that the new pope really is a breath of fresh air. Why is anyone unhappy about that?
    I am not Catholic, but I do have quite a few liberal friends who are. They seem to have a zip in their steps these days. Now if lightning would strike and the Southern Baptist Convention would stop being jerks I might even go back to church.

  27. Valissa says:

    Exactly so. The Hunger Games is a modern fable. It’s beautifully filmed cultural-political fantasy science fiction. I did not read the books, and was pleasantly surprised by the first movie (which I was dragged to). The political subtext is much more obvious in the second movie, which made it even better in my opinion (though many movie reviewers didn’t agree with me). There are some weaknesses in the movies but overall, powerful and thought provoking entertainment.
    According to this Wikipedia article, Suzanne Collins was inspired by mythology
    [excerpt]Collins has said that the main inspiration for The Hunger Games trilogy came from the classical account of Theseus and the Minotaur. In Greek mythology, as a punishment for the killing of King Minos’s son Androgeos, Athens was forced to sacrifice seven youths and seven maidens to Crete, who were then put in the Labyrinth and killed by the Minotaur. After a while, Theseus, the son of the Athenian king, decided to put an end to the Minotaur and Minos’s terror, so he volunteered to join the third group of victims, ultimately killing the Minotaur and leading his companions out of the monster’s Labyrinth.
    Collins has said that there are also many parallels between the Roman Empire and the fictional nation of Panem. She describes the Hunger Games as “an updated version of the Roman gladiator games, which entails a ruthless government forcing people to fight to the death as popular entertainment.”

  28. dca says:

    I’d say there is (probably always will be) a tension in the Church between its Christian roots and its Roman ones: when it became the State religion under Constantine it took on much of the hierarchical and authoritarian coloration of the Empire. St. Francis didn’t have this, nor does (it appears) his namesake. So I’d agree: this is a rebalancing, but it isn’t going to make the Church abandon itself.
    BTW, that Matt Yglesias didn’t find the parts about Jesus acceptable is unsurprising, since he is Jewish.

  29. Tyler says:

    I think sometimes, consciously or not, we write about the paradigm we live in.
    There’s also the very salient fact that the publishing industry is ultra liberal, and getting anything remotely conservative/traditionalist past the gatekeepers is a chore in and of itself. If I was writing a modern day morality fable about what unrestrained progressive decadence leads to, I’d sure as hell couch it in “mythology!” as well.
    Hell, the rebels end up getting help from a nuclear armed militant culture to win the war. For all her talk about Roman gladiatorial games, its obvious she thinks highly of Roman discipline.

  30. Fred says:

    I must disagree with Collins’ take on mythology. Her work was superficial at best. Theseus slayed the Minotaur and thus ended the Athenian tribute to Minos forever. Minoan material wealth, according to the myth, came about because King Minos betrayed the gods. The Minotaur was created, with the help of Daedalus, by King Minos’ wife betraying the gods as well. In the movie Katnis and company are kill each other, not the Mint oar. They do not liberate society by doing so, they perpetuate the brutality. Many found the artistry pleasant, yet I found children killing each other to be disgraceful. It is yet another of Hollywood’s artistic triumphs. I’m sure that another loyal to her art, Leni Riefenstahl, would be very pleased. Collins is not doing as the makers of myth in ancient Greece tried to do, set an example of behavior to follow, she set out to make money. She’s reinforcing the worst aspects of society, just as Tyler pointed out.

  31. Richard Armstrong says:

    As COL Lang called me, I am a proud lefty Democrat and I find nothing the Pope has said upsets me. I find it marvelous to hear him echo the spirit, if not the actual words of Jesus. As for those who find what he says to be upsetting, as I recall Christ also upset many who thrived in the status quo of the day.
    I just hope this Pope has a food taster.

  32. Edward Amame says:

    Viva Francis!
    His shift in focus from anti-abortion to the poor is a very welcome relief to a lot of us. Added benefits for Americans: during Francis’ tenure at least, we will not be hearing pronouncements from the Vatican Chief Justice about which pro-abortion Catholic politicians should be denied communion; lobbying efforts by the Catholic Church attempting to influence secular law will be curtailed and tentacles to/from the Christian Right will be snipped.
    Something else to hope for: a lid on professional gasbag Bill Donohue.

  33. Laura Wilson says:

    I was just using Dorothy Day as an example of a Christian/Catholic “leftist” whose name is held in high esteem by social justice Christians (of a certain age).
    And, oh, wouldn’t it be nice if I proofread!
    Red words! Yes!

  34. Alba Etie says:

    I am wondering if Carl Sandburg “To A Comtemporary Bunkshooter ” might be on Pope Francis’s reading list .

  35. Nancy K says:

    Richard, I agree with you completely. I am left leaning Democrat and not Catholic but I so admire the Pope for as you said “echoing the spirit, if not the actual words of Jesus.”
    I realize that while I don’t agree with him on issues such as gay marriage, abortions, birth control and role of women in the church, I also realize my opinions on these matters don’t matter because I am not a Catholic. He is faithful to his believes and the words of Jesus. Too many of our religious leaders (all religions) care more about taking care of themselves then of the poor and needy.

  36. Stephanie says:

    Benedict’s tendency to insert his foot in his mouth is well known, so his bad press was to some degree his own fault. It’s true he was an ivory tower type, but communicating with the masses is part of the job. He did pay a price for playing bad cop to JP II’s good cop. There was certainly unfairness in that Benedict was held responsible for problems for which his predecessor had been issued a pass – the notorious Father Maciel was protected by JP II, for example, while Benedict went after him as soon as he was in a position to do so.
    Friendly assessments of Benedict from The New Republic, a generally liberal magazine. The first notes how Benedict initially disappointed some of the fire-eaters:
    A long piece on Caritas in Veritate:
    Francis has indeed changed the tone. Part of that is good PR but a change of tone and emphasis is actually a pretty big deal – at least the wailing and rending of garments from the Church’s right wing would seem to suggest that.
    I think Benedict understood symbolism quite well. He assumed traditional papal vestments that had fallen into disuse for a reason – to evoke a sense of continuity with the past. Nothing wrong with that in theory. It was the wrong symbolism at the wrong time, however, and Benedict was unable to adjust.

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