I’m torn when it comes to Pope Francis. I want to like the guy, but I have trouble just about every time the media covers something he says. Something just doesn’t sit right with me.
For example, this story appeared two days ago. It’s about the Pope’s comments on poverty.
Christian poverty is that I give to the poor what is mine, not just what is left over, but even that which I need for myself, because I know that he enriches me,”
I get the idea and agree to a certain extent, but I’ve got some issues with the whole “theology of poverty.”
The headline of the article states – “Pope Francis: Handing over wealth to the poor is Christianity – not communism.”
The headline struck me as a bit odd. When I read the story, there are no quotes from the Pope about communism. When I read the comment section, just about every comment ended up being either a political statement, or a general statement of support couched in politics, or something like this – “great idea – let the church and its riches go first.”
The Pope has made statements in the past about homosexuality, climate change, creation, and even atheists maybe going to heaven, among other things. When I think back to the reactions, they always seem to be the same – people respond with political-oriented statements that suggest the Pope supports their side of the issue or label the Pope in a political fashion. I’ve been watching this and each time, it just doesn’t sit well with me. I can’t place my finger on it.
Maybe it’s the same feeling I get when I hear politicians and political figures make statements. Having worked in the world of politics I can say honestly that there aren’t many politicians that impress me. Most of their speeches are full of platitudes designed to rally the supporters with nice fluffy and patriotic terminology designed to make people feel like the politician really cares about everyone else. In a sense, the Pope has given these types of statements plenty of times. It’s not so much that he is saying anything new in substance, but rather, he’s saying the same thing the Church has taught for a long time, but in a different way that makes it sound like something new and different is coming.
Then again, I’m not one to just dismiss the leader of the largest Christian denomination on the planet. I think he’s got some good qualities too. His own personal actions speak louder than words to me. He lives a simpler life than previous popes. He has gone to serve the poor. He’s reached out to the disadvantaged. He’s done some great things. I like that about him.
Maybe that’s the issue for me. Speaking vs. actions. It’s easy to give a speech. Yes, I know that public speaking is a huge fear for many people. That’s not what I’m talking about. It’s easy to make a public statement. In fact, so often, I’ve seen people make statements about whatever topic of the moment is in the headlines. People make statements, they post comments on social media, maybe even go to a rally or sign a petition and think “I care and I did something.” Sorry to break it to you – no you didn’t. Yes, you took a few moments of time to show some support, but you really didn’t do anything to change the situation – there was no giving of yourself. Because human words can’t change things ultimately. It’s the actions that actually change things. Only God has the power to speak something and cause it to change.
And so I remain torn when it comes to the Pope. He’s personally a great role model for how to live and act. But I’m not crazy about his statements – they sound too much like any other politician I’d heard before.
Then again, maybe I just don’t like the way the media “reports” on statement by the Pope. I have to remember that the media is a business too. It makes money when it gets advertisers. Advertisers want to know that people are seeing their ads. The best way to see ads is to make the news sensational and controversial – you get views that way.
In the meantime, I’ll keep listening and watching the Pope. I think its good for me to be uncomfortable at times and to ask why I’m uncomfortable with certain statements. Sometimes the uncomfortableness is because of some of the things I mentioned before. But sometimes, the uncomfortableness is something deeper – it’s a signal that there’s something that needs to change in me and I may not like that.