Sometimes It’s Not Just The Message, But The Messenger: Thoughts on Pope Francis

A friend was surprised when I shared an image with the same text as this one on Facebook:

which, thanks to Pope Francis, isn’t really that outrageous of a claim. I mean, check this article out, if you’re skeptical: 9 Times Pope Francis Was More Progressive Than The Republican Party When It Came To U.S. Policy.

His reason for being surprised was later summarized in a post where he said:

If atheists love the current pope and what he says, what does that say about the Catholic church? Has everyone suddenly been converted, or am I not that familiar with what that church has taught?

And see, here’s the thing.  The core principles of the faith – you know, the ones we’ve had for nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change – are the same. They’re why I had returned to the church for a while.

But Jesus, save me from your followers.

Since Francis started talking about economic justice or expressing any religious tolerance, there’s been a lot of folks who previously bleated about papal obedience backtracking all over themselves and saying that Francis doesn’t dictate church law.  (They’re right – but they also conveniently forgot that during JP2 and Benedict.)

And more importantly, it’s people like that – or those who were more like Benedict – who drove me away from the Church. Their intolerance and hatred of those who had different opinions or ways of life physically repelled me… and those like me.

And during the abuse scandals – and the frankly horrific coverups that Benedict and most of the current bishopric participated in – many others fled the Church.

And then when you have prominent Catholics like Bill Donohue and Rick Santorum… well.

In my community, it seemed like intolerance, hatred, and blind adherence to authority were the key qualities of the most active members of the Church.

But with Pope Francis… things seem to have changed.

It isn’t that the core teachings of the Church are any different.  

What’s striking is that Pope Francis is so unlike so many of Catholicism’s most vocal adherents… in the best possible way.

You can read a transcript of Pope Francis’ speech to Congress here:

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