Thursday, March 16, 2017

It's The Company They Keep

"Their pungent language [Pope Francis and Donald J. Trump] reflects a shared mastery of the contemporary media environment, in which controversy and unpredictability are the great currencies."
"Having people constantly asking 'Did he really just say that?' is the surest ticket to the world's attention."
Ross Douthat, The New York Times

"[Those who oppose betray] a facile repetition of what is obvious or has already been said [of] burying their heads in the sand [of] indoctrinating [the Gospel] in dead stones to be hurled at others [of hiding] behind the Church's teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families [of giving into] conspiracy theories and blinkered viewpoints."
Pope Francis verbally thrashing cardinals and bishops
Pope Francis touches the wall that divides Israel from the West Bank in Bethlehem, May 25, 2014. (photo by REUTERS/Mheisen Amareen)

This is a pope who likes to portray himself as a man of the people, a humble man, gracious in his inclusion of the unwashed of the world, whose feet he himself as the most powerful religious figure in the world would himself wash in a gesture of equality and humility, elevating the poor and the deprived to the status he himself occupies, if only for a second of limitless time. There is no human disfigurement that he does not invest with respect and empathy. There is no papal luxury that he will not deny for himself; not for him the sumptuous splendour of the office he holds.

He claims for himself that he will not sit in judgement of others who are forced by circumstances of life to make decisions that the righteous do not countenance, but he will and he does. He has room in his heart to be magnanimous to all. Which perhaps explains that he sees no difference between a wall erected in desperation to stop the anguishing bloody atrocities committed by Palestinian terrorists against Jewish civilians, and the wall the Nazis had erected in Warsaw to separate Jews from Poles until such time they could be conveniently extirpated from existence.

In a landscape where Christians are persecuted, their chambers of worship defaced and destroyed, their lives threatened, their numbers diminished through fear and migration, this generous man of god is understanding and pleased to treat all with equal respect, able to forego criticism of Muslims who hate Christians and who have through their unremitting hatred extinguished the existence of Christians from their ancient roots in the holy land once Judaic, later Christian, now consecrated to Islam.

The Pope is extremely fond of sermonizing and does so incessantly. He enjoys making speeches, making daily contact with his immense following. Each morning presents another opportunity for a homily which Vatican Radio is pleased to disseminate over the air waves so all may take advantage of the sage words and advice of a man of wisdom and grace. These are lengthy speeches and become increasingly more so, as Pope Francis loves to enunciate on any topic that comes to mind, and people gravitate to his grave messages of humanity's existence on Earth.

It may appear to the misguided, as was pointed out by the New York Time's journalist, that this great, good man has much in common with the new President of the United States, in their shared love of pontificating and releasing in their inimitable style, their learned impressions on every subject that can be broached to a listening public, however controversial. Their authority elevates the discourse and blesses the listener with newfound knowledge and the pride of knowing from whence it emanates.

Still, in the instance of U.S. President Donald J. Trump, his alarming utterances of unbridled opinion loosed on the public leave impressions that may not be entirely salubrious to the understanding of the state of this man's mental health. As for the Pope, his opinionated speeches on occasion alienate a good many of his flock resulting from his penchant to stray from historical Roman Catholic Gospel teaching, upending the lifetime belief and dedication of a huge number of faithful Catholics.

Some question that Pope Francis' liberal-to-libertine attitude toward sexual matters undermine the very structure of the Catholic Church, while his judgements ranging from poverty to climate change, immigration to politics constrain for many the respect in which his office is held. His sharp criticism of those who fail to agree with his messages sting when he seeks to denounce the motives of opponents and their basic character flaws leading many who hew to a different belief to distance themseves.

 It is indeed a relief that he is non-judgemental.

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