I was raised a Roman Catholic, but like the joke, “I am now a recovering Catholic.” The last Pope, Benedict, sent chills down my spine, with his harsh Church doctine, but the new Pope, who took the name of Francis, is giving me some hope for positive change.
On October 4, 2013, Pope Francis travelled to Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis of Assisi. Ministering in a soup kitchen among Assisi’s poverty-stricken residents, the pope recalled how Saint Francis once stood in front of his rich father, stripped off the clothes that symbolized the trappings of his wealth, and declared that his true father was Jesus, and true family the poor
Pope Francis used this story to assert that, like that first Francis, Christians have on too many clothes. We must “lay ourselves bare,” he said, and “divest ourselves from this worldliness: the spirit contrary to the spirit of the beatitudes, the spirit contrary to the spirit of Jesus.” He repeated this command to “strip ourselves” of worldliness several times and concluded with a flourish: “Spiritual worldliness kills! It kills the soul! It kills the Church!”
Was this a direct shot at the present hierarchy, many of which live very comfortably as Cardinals and Bishops? Remember this is the Pope who has broken tradition and lives not in isolation but with his fellow priests in the Vatican. This is the Pope who took public transportation in Argentina and personally telephoned his newspaper delivery person to cancel a subscription.
How does this impact, say, Republican Americans, who are fighting against universal health care for the poor and wish to reduce food stamps?
Politically, it is easier to be a Pope and be in solidarity with the poor, but what about solidarity with homosexuals. Will the Pope make this a priority by pronouncing the words of Jesus: “Do not Judge,” and “Love One Another as I Have Loved You.”
He needs to act swiftly. Every day, LGBT people are murdered!