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Pope Francis and the Perils of an Overly Politicized Life

Pope Francis and the Perils of an Overly Politicized Life

Life is too short to cede every last bit of it to contentiousness

Regardless of what your thoughts might be on Catholicism, the Pope, or politics, I believe we can all agree that the decision to view everything through a political lens is a great way to miss some of life’s best offerings. This has never been more apparent to me than it is today.

This morning I watched the fanfare around Pope Francis’ historic visit to the US.

You can watch Pope Francis’ remarks here. They’re brief, less than ten minutes.

Pope Francis covered many things: he offered encouragement, Christian persecution across the globe, America’s heritage of religious freedom, climate change and above all else, our responsibility to love one another.

Punditry responded in kind:

Leon Wolf has a thoughtful piece up at RedState addressing the same.

These assessments (save Wolf’s) missed a crucial element: Pope Francis is not speaking as a politician. He’s not an economist. He’s never claimed to be any of the above. He speaks as a moral authority.

There’s also an annoying insistence that Pope Francis must acquiesce to everyone’s individual political preferences.

“He said climate change! Does he now what that does politically?! Why is he in Cuba?! Does he know their government is tyrannical?! Abortion! Pro-life! Me! ME! MEEEEE!”

Because even religion should be self-gratifying, revolving around our world view and political leanings, right?

If we could extricate ourselves from the political cess pool for a measly ten minutes, perhaps we could appreciate Pope Francis’ words of encouragement. Maybe we could heed the gentle reminder that we have a responsibility to be diligent stewards with what we’ve been entrusted. We might even be able to enjoy the perspective of an Argentinian who recognizes and reveres America’s long-standing tradition of religious freedom. We might even remember that we are all on a journey — irrespective of our partisan leanings, and that even those with which we disagree respond to truth and love.

And it’s this view I choose.

Don’t get me wrong — politics matter. Activism matters. Policy matters. Voting matters. Truth matters. The compulsion to find political equivalencies in everything is one I understand well. Heck, it’s what I do for a living. But there’s more to life than politics.

I refuse to let the poison of bitter partisanship detract from this rare occurrence — that Christianity is receiving wall to wall media coverage and creating a nation-wide conversation. Life is simply too short to cede every last bit of it to contentiousness.

Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekaye


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I disagree. The Pope had a great opportunity to stand up for Catholic beliefs and he balked. He fell to the political pressure of Obama and kept his comments “safe”.

He could have come out harshly against abortion, as done so in the past, but he evolved his position to say that it basically isn’t that bad. He talks about immigration, but ignores the perils of ILLEGAL immigration. Christians are being attacked and murdered around the world, and the U.S. can do something about it, but he was soft on his comments in relation to that too.

To me, this was nothing more than a PR stunt. He played really safe in the shadow of Obama and didn’t do what I felt a religious leader in his position should do.

Now, every member of the GOP will be raked over the coals concerning his comments because his comments are all basically what the “left” have been pushing. He waded into politics? No, he dove in head first. He rips capitalism, defends communism, and doesn’t protect the innocent and poor. He’s nothing more than a glorified politician at this point. His pandering and “safe speech” keep him popular among world leaders only.

It’s disappointing.

    ZurichMike in reply to Mr. Izz. | September 23, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    Totally agree with Mr. Izz on this. And I would be curious as to the reason for the “thumbs down” votes — any facts or argumentation?

    JimMtnViewCaUSA in reply to Mr. Izz. | September 23, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    Yes, completely agree.
    He was satisfied to hob-nob with the people-in-charge when he was in Cuba. But he was eager to talk about the downtrodden and oppressed in America.

“He speaks as a moral authority.”

Well, not in Cuber.

And not here. A moral authority speaks morality in the face of what is immoral.

Statism is immoral. Under ANY understanding of Christianity or Judaism of which I know, individual agency is foundational. One cannot be virtuous via compulsion. And a system of compulsion is, per force, immoral.

    Taxpayer1234 in reply to Ragspierre. | September 23, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    BAM. Well said.
    As the leader of a religion that spans many cultures, the Pope should be crystal clear in his statements. So many of them have been subject of multiple interpretations that it’s difficult even for devout Catholics to understand how his words relate to Jesus and His teachings.

    The more Francis equivocates, the more I miss John Paul II.

    ZurichMike in reply to Ragspierre. | September 23, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    Well said.

    jayjerome66 in reply to Ragspierre. | September 23, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    You can’t even take Kenberlee’s admonition to be a decent human for ten minutes, but have to go off on another unfounded and ignorant rant. What shallow knowledge of biblical teachings led you to that misinformed conclusion about statism?

    Show me where in scripture it anywhere says statism is immoral.
    Go ahead, produce the passages. Because if it is immoral, Jesus would have said so, or the Apostles.

    And you do know if Jesus was reincarnated in modern times, maintaining the same core beliefs he professed 2000 years ago, you’d curse him as a Social Liberal. You’d crucify him here, with snide comments.

    Isn’t that right JudasPierre….

      1st Samuel, Chapter 8 is the Biblical repudiation of statism that you requested. It’s interesting reading:

      Israel was managed by judges, Samuel’s sons among them. But those sons were taking bribes so the people clamored for a king instead of judges. This was a repudiation of what the LORD had set up, so Samuel prayed about it. God told Samuel that the people are rejecting HIM (the LORD), not Samuel; and that Samuel should go ahead and establish a king; but he should also tell the people what they’ll be getting under kings.

      What follows is a pretty good description of how things go when the State runs everything. Yes, the Bible does speak against statism.

    I agree Rags. And, so do others including Pope John Paul II. A humane society is one where “human dignity is affirmed.”

    “Statism consists in more than economic restriction; it also comes in a moral variety. Increasing governmental imperialism has led to the encroachment of the political institutions into all social spheres. Government is now the largest provider of charitable efforts, educational efforts, and soon to be day-care efforts. The nanny state is alive, strong, and still increasing its reach. In doing so, it weakens the culture at large by disrupting other social institutions and then robbing them of their natural functions. The end result is a weakened culture, confused, and incapable of immediate decisive action.”
    -Dr. Gregory M. A. Gronbacher

    “…socialism has been shown to be anthropologically and theologically flawed.” – Dr. Gregory M. A. Gronbacher
    “if we examine the work of the second half of the twentieth century’s leading personalist—Karol Wojtyla, more commonly known as Pope John Paul II, we see a shift away from socialist ideas and a turn toward free-market economics as the economic model of choice for dialogue. This is clearly seen in the Pope’s 1991 social encyclical Centesimus Annus. In this insightful document, the Pope analyzes the fall of communism from a Catholic and Personalist perspective. He concludes that:

    “”It would appear that, on the level of individual nations and of international relations, the free market is the most efficient instrument for utilizing resources and effectively responding to human needs.””

    “T]he fundamental error of socialism is anthropological in nature. Socialism considers the individual person simply as an element, a molecule within the social organism, so that the good of the individual is completely subordinated to the functioning of the socio-economic mechanism. (Centesimus Annus#13) -Pope John Paul II

    At least one Biblical reference against statism:
    With the parable of the Good Samaritan Jesus speaks of a neighbor acting as a personal subsidiary helping a robbed and wounded neighbor; no Roman gov’t was involved in this humane and loving transaction between the two individuals.

What do protestants and evangelicals think about the veneration of the pope and his words?

I don’t recall any passage in the New Testament that gave one man such power.

I don’t share your sentiments, Kemberlee.

I am a Christian. The Pope does NOT speak for me or to me. Words of encouragement detached from reality and from “true religion” do not encourage me. I don’t buy into sentimentality.

The Pope is one man with an opinion and an agenda. He might make some impression on me if he went to Iran and did his thing over there.

Freedom of speech comments are throwaway lines.

Oh, did the Pope mention Pastor Saeed Abedini by name? He must know this pastor, the one who went back to his homeland Iran to help orphans and was imprisoned for his Christianity?

Rather than listening to the Pope I would watch a rerun of a Billy Graham crusade and sponsor a Samaritan’s Purse project and read and obey this…

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James the brother of my Lord

Not that I want to blame the Pope for this directly, but the White House press secretary’s comparing the Pope to Obama’s seminal greatness, how they have so much in common, was a bit much, and would have been a bit much from any Republican administration too.

    mariner in reply to JBourque. | September 23, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    As degraded as the Republican Party has become, I can’t even imagine garbage like that coming from a Republican White House.

Look, I’m just sayin’, maybe the Pope should be a little more circumspect when declaiming on global warming, climate change, whatever we’re calling it this week, or other scientific matters after that unfortunate business with Galileo.

How come the head of the largest Christian denomination in the world can come to the the White House and and meet with the President of the United states and speak to our nation as a religious “moral authority” but a five year old girl cannot say grace over her lunch at school?

Oh I see, the doctrine of separation of church and state applies to the little girl but not to Obama and the Pope.

    userpen: a five year old girl cannot say grace over her lunch at school

    Actually, prayer is protected speech in public schools. If a student has been told they cannot pray during their free time, then they should contact the ACLU.

    ACLU: Students have the right to pray individually or in groups or to discuss their religious views with their peers so long as they are not disruptive. Because the Establishment Clause does not apply to purely private speech, students enjoy the right to read their Bibles or other scriptures, say grace before meals, pray before tests, and discuss religion with other willing student listeners.

Obama and Francis made an agreement: Obama demanded the Pope focus on global warming while speaking in the US and the Pope got to speak on religious liberty. Quid pro quo. Smart divine power.

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools

-R. Kipling

Charles Darwin hesitated to publish the Origin of Species because he felt (rightly) that it might be misused. He was right. Social Darwinism and eugenics as applied by some of our most hated, murderous tyrants resulted in many millions of deaths. The great principles of the Catholic Church have also been misused, for example to justify Marxism as applied in South America. That’s no excuse for this pope to back down, or fail to speak his truth.