Skip to comments.It's Time to Admit: Pope Francis Is Kind of Awesome (Esquire gets religion)
Posted on 07/11/2013 6:20:20 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o
It began when the Pope paid his bill. The day after Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was named the leader of the world's billion Catholics, he asked his driver to go back to the hotel in the Vatican where he'd been staying during the Congress of Cardinals, to pay his bill. The payment was completely symbolic of course. That hotel belongs to the Church, and the Church belongs to him. The Pope paid "because he was concerned about giving a good example of what priests and bishops should do." Paying a bill is a small but vital gesture it is the most ordinary way that normal people fulfill their obligations. It was the first in a series of moves that have established Pope Francis I as, by far, the coolest, most interesting and potentially revolutionary Pope in memory.
It has now been a little over a hundred days since Francis took over the Vatican, but for Pope-watchers, the excitement has just begun. There is serious upheaval in the Vatican, with outsiders brought into major positions of power, and Francis speaking openly of "a current of corruption" in the Curia, but, as an atheist, I don't really care about any of that. I'm sure it takes guts and brains to try and reform the Church, but whether the Vatican is a strong or a weak institution is of the smallest possible concern to me. What is much more important is how he has used many small gestures to demonstrate the possibilities of compassion.
He has said that he believes priests should be "shepherds with the smell of the sheep" and he is living that way. He has, pointedly, not moved into the papal apartments, remaining at a cheap hotel where reportedly he eats breakfast with ordinary people. He refuses to take the papal limousine, traveling by minibus instead. More significantly, on Holy Thursday this year, Pope Francis became the first Pope in history to wash the feet of a woman. Not only did he wash the feet of a woman, but that woman was a Muslim. Not only was she a Muslim woman, she was a female inmate at a local prison. He has become famous in Rome as the "chatty" Pope, stopping to embrace children with disabilities. Recently after a kid with Down's syndrome pointed to the Popemobile, Francis gave him a free ride around Saint Peter's Square. He has a sense of humor, too. He's been known to give blessings to groups of Harley Davidson bikers.
These little gestures make a big difference. The Catholic Church may be the last major institution in the world that makes a coherent argument against total absorption in consumer capitalism. It was one thing to hear Benedict XVI talk about the poor on a golden throne draped in ermine. It's quite another to hear it from a guy on the minibus who pays his bills.
Not that these little gestures will change the Catholic Church or its reputation overnight. Just this week, another scandal has erupted in the New York diocese, where Cardinal Dolan was caught moving church assets into shadowy accounts to prevent the victims of child abuse from knowing about 130 million dollars. Nonetheless, the Pope offers some real reasons for hope. He's even said that atheists, if we lead a good life, aren't necessarily going to hell. Which is nice, I guess. A measure of civility between the faithful and nonbelievers has been sorely lacking. He might even be able to bridge that chasm, which would in itself be a huge achievement. As a Catholic friend said to me, "He could be amazing. All he has to do is not get assassinated."
The pope is wrong. All atheists do go to hell. The bible is pretty clear on this point.
Other than that he seems to be doing OK so far. Needs to get the homosexuals out of the ministry
Is praise from a leftist a good thing?
Clean up the banks.
Send the pervert priests to jail.
We need to see real change and real reform.
I like what I see so far. He seems to be a normal, humble guy. He made it past the point where they poisoned JP-1, so he has that going for him.
That’ll last until he gets more candid on abortion or homosexuality or something. Then he’ll get the full Sarah Palin treatment just like all the rest of us.
That is hell.
However. The Pope's point was, we are all commanded to do good and avoid evil, and, lo and behold, we meet each other by doing good and avoiding evil. The point of "meeting" can be the point of "conversion." Eyes are opened. Hearts are opened. The soul, under the influence of Grace, acknowledges the need for Grace. And the Good Lord enters in.
That's what Pope Francis was telling the atheists. Not that they or anybody else has a "Get Out Of Hell Free" card, but that we meet each other at the point of doing good together, and that may prepare the heart for that moment of grace.
"And if a man gives so much as a draught of cold water to one of the least of these here, because he is a disciple of mine, I promise you, he shall not miss his reward." (Matthew 10:42)
But some won't. Some may be inclined, mysteriously, to listen.
We can pray that Stephen Marche is one of the listening kind. Rememeber that the Pope's namesake, Francis of Assisi, even converted the Wolf of Gubbio.
What if at the last moment they choose Christ?
Unfortunately, this is a style over substance article. It is full of errors, specifically the hotel in which he stays. It is for traveling religious, and not your local Motel 6. Additionally, he doesn’t “own” the church, so his bill was due.
Finally, even an atheist should recognize the challenges of being the world’s largest provider of charitable services, including health care and education. CEO of that endeavor is hard enough, let alone being religious leader of 1.2 billion people, and head of state.
In total, the Pope’s visible actions are preaching, and appear to be effective. As his namesake said, preach the Gospel daily, use words if you must.
The shoes thing is just so stupid
You said it correctly. This puff piece is ripe with inaccuracies. Subscribe to Rome Reports and Catholic News Service (CNS) on You Tube to get the true video deiction of what Pope Francis does. This buffoon also uses the title ‘Francis I’ to identify the pope. ‘I’ isn’t used until there is a ‘II’. Who do they think they are writing too, other atheists I suppose.
What I did notice is an atheist writing for Esquire, who is looking at the Pope not as a misogynist trog, not as an extreme-right political operator, but as a man practicing compassion for the Compassionate One.
He noticed. That revs me up.
Pope Francis is deploying signs and symbols that people understand. That's part of preaching the Gospel.
I am always glad to see good press for the Pope.
That's what Pope Francis was telling the atheists.
Possibly, but that's not how it read to me.
Not that they or anybody else has a "Get Out Of Hell Free" card,
I've got a get out of hell free card! Jesus paid for it on the cross and gave it to me. All I had to do was accept His sacrifice as payment (atonement) for my sins. EVERYONE else can get the every same card in the very same way. IN fact, that is the ONLY way to get out of hell. God is so good to us.
Then they're not atheists anymore, are they?
OK, just to be blatantly clear. All atheists who remain atheists until they die, go to hell. (That better?) :)
Agreed. That is why I did not post this article and ping the list. The Catholic Church does not need to hear its pope praised by Elton John, whose lifestyle is diametrically opposed to what the church teaches.
Whether the Pope meant this or not is irrelevant. The issue is that MANY people took his words this way (Catholic and non-Catholic alike), not just the atheist author of this piece. We can sit here and say well, that's the problem of those who misunderstood him. Or we can say that perhaps the Pope needs to make sure that he is CLEAR when he talks about Heaven/Hell and atheists in the same homily. Those topics are way too important to cause confusion in the minds of anyone.
Two atheists I know who have become Christians, did so because of their involvement in thinks like special ed for handicapped kids, "first responder" volunteer groups for disaster relief, and plain old ordinary soup kitchen.
So it makes sense to invite atheists to be involved in good works, not because they can "earn" their way to heaven (that's impossible) but because they may meet people who know about the Source of all good.
True, one could see author SStephen Marche as just a dumb atheist, whose attraction is superficial and who doesn't, factually, know a lot. Or you could see him as a lost, lost sheep who has just lifted his hear, because he heard the Master's voice.
Elton John is a musician who markets perverted sexuality ---- , yes, that he is ---- but also as a troubled soul who can still respond to a humble and appealing man of God. Both Stephen Marche and Elton John may be individuals who, despite their darkened souls, still CAN respond.
I think that's who Pope Francis is going after. Like Jesus said, this "Kingdom of God" business is like a dragnet that catches all kinds of fish.
If you know anything about how a dragnet works (does "bottom-feeding scum suckers" ring a bell?) you can only whistle, shake your head with a smile, and say "Yeah. All kinds!!" Jesus! A genius at saving the lost! Savior is His name! It's what He does!
I'm just very, very, very suspicious of this kind of publicity, as it can become very addictive.
(Maybe it's my "wise as serpents" coming out here...)
Oh, well. Wait til the LGBT hits the fan!!
I agree entirely.
But that still doesn’t chaneg the fact that all atheists (who remain atheists at the time of their death) go to hell.
True; and even all those who say “Lord, Lord” will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
So we strive and pray for all!