THE LONG VIEW: Congressman’s dim view of Pope shows a lack of insight

0
330
Pat Grime copy.jpg

Pope Francis’ visit to the United States is over. Those five days on American soil saw His Holiness visit with the rich and powerful as well as the poor and weak, and he was greeted by huge crowds wherever he went.

Watching news reports reminded me of seeing John Paul II in L.A.'s Coliseum. There was a lot of positive energy in that room back then, as I imagine there was wherever people gathered to greet the current Pontiff.

Pope Francis’ visit to the United States is over. Those five days on American soil saw His Holiness visit with the rich and powerful as well as the poor and weak, and he was greeted by huge crowds wherever he went.

Watching news reports reminded me of seeing John Paul II in L.A.'s Coliseum. There was a lot of positive energy in that room back then, as I imagine there was wherever people gathered to greet the current Pontiff.

Then there are other kinds of energy given off by people who do not really get the Pope’s meaning. A host of disapproving voices were raised before and during this visit questioning Francis’ message.

One of these protests came from self-described “proud Catholic,” Congressman Paul Gosar. The representative from Arizona stated he would not attend the Pope's address to a joint session of Congress because the Bishop of Rome “chooses to act and talk like a leftist politician.”

Gosar’s complaint boils down to Francis being unwilling to limit his moral teachings to Republican talking points: the persecution of Christians in the U.S. and elsewhere, atrocities committed by terrorist groups, atrocities performed by Planned Parenthood, the need for immigrants to go home, and the need for people everywhere to “refocus our priorities on right from wrong.”

No, the Pope insists on going rogue, suggesting unfettered capitalism is wrong, as is ignoring humanity’s duty to be good stewards of the Earth. In doing so, His Holiness has rattled the conservative cage in a big way, annoying some tremendously wealthy folks by reminding them they are not the only one on the planet.

Francis commits conservative heresy in preaching climate change as a moral issue, one governments and industry must address to ensure justice for all of humankind, especially the poor. Adding to that inexcusable insult is his teaching on economic justice, how profit should not sanctified nor gained at the expense of human dignity (that is, workers have rights).

Congressman Gosar said he was forced to boycott the speech by the Pope’s misplaced priorities.

“If the Pope stuck to standard Christian theology, I would be the first in line,” he huffed.

It would seem Representative Gosar has overlooked some basic New Testament teaching. You know, like the Christian obligation to care for the poor – feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving shelter and welcome to the stranger, comforting the sick and imprisoned – all those tiresome, icky responsibilities spelled out quite clearly by the man for whom Christianity is named.

Jesus’s story in Matthew Chapter 25 includes this easy-to-understand gem: “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”

Pope Francis’ exhortation to seek economic and environmental justice is infinitely Christian, and certainly more so than the “Let’s make as much money as we can and the heck with those who are not like us (and not politically powerful)” philosophy lived by Congressman Gosar and others.

Perhaps their understanding of the Good Book would be better if they weren’t reading it through their checkbooks.

Pat Grimes, a former South Bay resident, writes from Ypsilanti, Mich. He can be reached at pgwriter@inbox.com