It’s Francis

The new pope is Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires.  He is the first Jesuit pope ever and is of Italian descent.

He has taken the name Pope Francis (Franceso).

Between the time that the white smoke went up and they announced the new pope, I had been thinking that his mission was the same as the one that God gave St. Francis — “Rebuild my church.”

So I was both shocked and delighted to hear that his name will be Francis.  He may have chosen it because of his commitment to the poor rather than the need for repair, but whatever the reason, I take it as a hopeful sign.

When I was baptized six years ago, I took the baptismal name Francesca, the female form of St. Francis, so I’m especially pleased.

Viva il Papa!

Benedict Wasn’t My Pope…

From “No matter what, I’m still Catholic,” Mary Elizabeth Williams:

“Benedict wasn’t my pope any more than George Bush was my president. I don’t vote for either of those goobers. I didn’t like the things they said and did, or their records as leaders or decent humans. So in case you’re wondering, I am consistently outraged by the corruption and abuse of power that has gone on within the church, and heartbroken over the lives that have been callously shattered because of it. I am appalled when an institution that should be a force for peace and progress instead focuses on promoting intolerance. I’m furious when rigid dogma leads to senseless death. That’s why I tackle these issues regularly in my writing. My religious upbringing trained me to speak out against injustice and exploitation, and hey, if that means making a stink about the way the church conducts itself, I guess I can thank Catholicism for showing me how to do it. Because if your whole enterprise was founded by a troublemaking, authority-questioning outsider, you shouldn’t be surprised if that’s what you get from his followers.

“You might likewise get people like the Nuns on the Bus, the movement of American Catholic Sisters who told that nice Catholic boy Paul Ryan that his budget plan was a hateful slam against the poor. You might, relatedly, get the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, who work closely with the needy and were condemned last year by the Vatican for not being sufficiently vocal enough about birth control and homosexuality. They, meanwhile, continue to espouse ‘open discussion of church doctrine.’  You might get my small, multi-ethnic parish that’s run by Capuchin friars, an order ‘dedicated to the service of real human needs and the proclamation of God’s love.’ They do clothing drives and hurricane relief, and I’ve yet to hear our pastor say anything intolerant or exclusionary, ever.

“Last Halloween, after Hurricane Sandy shut down our traditional neighborhood celebration in our park, the pastor offered families the use of the Catholic school’s gym for the festivities instead. There was no request for a fee, no implicit indoctrination. That’s why what ultimately drove me in disgust off our local Yahoo parenting group were the responses from people I’d considered friends who were so open in their contempt and distrust of the offer, and who said flatly they wouldn’t bring their children into ‘a church.’ Aside from the fact that it was a school, at the same location where they’d have to do their voting a few days later, the saddest thing about it was the bigotry it revealed. I take a whole lot of guff on a consistent basis from the so-called faithful who like to tell me I can’t be a Catholic and believe the things I believe. But frankly I have been just as condescended to, judged and ultimately bored by mean-spirited, know-it-all Catholic bashers in my life as I have my fellow Christians.

“It’s an often lonely place here in the quiet land of LGBT-loving, pro-choice, liberal Catholics. Some days I like to imagine it’s a little party just for Stephen Colbert, Joe Biden and me. But it’s not: 60 percent of American Catholics say they don’t strongly adhere to the church’s stance on abortion, and even more don’t subscribe to its position on same-sex marriage. Nearly 80 percent think you can practice birth control and not attend Mass regularly and still be a good Catholic, while only 20 percent believe in the necessity of an all-male, celibate clergy. You can call us Cafeteria Catholics if you like, but it doesn’t change our principles or our hopes for reform. And you can say the church is unchangeable, but it’s revised itself plenty over 2,000 years. This is a body that once decided slavery didn’t contradict natural law, so don’t rule out the possibility of further enlightenment.”  Emphasis added.

Amen To This

From “Farewell to an Uninspiring Pope,” John Patrick Shanley, NYT:

“Pope Benedict XVI quit. Good. He was utterly bereft of charm, tone-deaf and a protector of priests who abused children. He’d been a member of the Hitler Youth. In addition to this woeful résumé, he had no use for women.

“Benedict has not been idle. He has put in place a lot of other old guys who have no interest in sharing power with anyone outside the club. The last pope we had who showed signs of spiritual vision was John XXIII. That was a long time ago. He had humility and a good heart. These more recent appointments have been disheartening in the extreme.

“When I was a kid at St. Anthony’s in the Bronx (one of the schools that the archdiocese of New York is now closing), there were boxes for the poor. The people of the East Bronx worked hard and made little. Everybody put money in those boxes. I put money in those boxes. As far as I’m concerned, that money was stolen.

“I have watched the wealth of the Catholic Church turned into a subsidy for wrongdoing and a prop for the continuing campaign against women’s rights and homosexuality. Neighborhood churches, built with the hard-earned money of working-class people, are being sold off. The sacrifices that were made to build these churches were significant and local. The decision to close them has been made antiseptically, by remote control. The men who make these decisions are at a remove, very much involved in protecting their power and comfort.

“I have little reason to hope that the Church of Rome will suddenly realize that without women, the Catholic Church is doomed, and should be doomed. I think of those good nuns who educated me, of their lifelong devotion and sacrifice. They have been treated like cattle by a crowd of domineering fools. In Benedict, the Catholic Church got the pope it deserved. I can only hope, for the sake of my parents, who loved the church so much, that a miracle of divine grace alters the writing on the wall. If not, the Catholic Church will suffer the fate it deserves.”

 

The Saints Among Us Are Under Siege

From “We Are All Nuns,” Nicholas D. Kristof, NYT:

“Catholic nuns are not the prissy traditionalists of caricature.  No, nuns rock!

“They were the first feminists, earning Ph.D.’s or working as surgeons long before it was fashionable for women to hold jobs.  As managers of hospitals, schools and complex bureaucracies, they were the first female C.E.O.’s.

“They are also among the bravest, toughest and most admirable people in the world.  In my travels, I’ve seen heroic nuns defy warlords, pimps and bandits.  Even as bishops have disgraced the church by covering up the rape of children, nuns have redeemed it with their humble work on behalf of the neediest.

“So, Pope Benedict, all I can say is:  You are crazy to mess with nuns.

The Vatican issued a stinging reprimand of American nuns this month and ordered a bishop to oversee a makeover of the organization that represents 80 percent of them.  In effect, the Vatican accused the nuns of worrying too  much about the poor and not enough about abortion and gay marriage.

“What Bible did that come from?  Jesus in the Gospels repeatedly talks about poverty and social justice, yet never explicitly mentions either abortion or homosexuality.  If you look at who has more closely emulated Jesus’s life, Pope Benedict or your average nun, it’s the nun hands down.”  Emphasis added.

Santorum Is Killing Two Birds With One Stone

Much is being made of how Rick Savonarola Santorum is hurting the GOP with his theocratic views.

But he’s also hurting Catholic politicians in general and our chances of having another Catholic president.  As I’ve said before, so far Catholics are one for 44, and that one got assassinated.  He’s undoing all the comfort President Kennedy provided in his 1960 speech assuring voters that if they elected him, the Vatican wouldn’t run the Oval Office.

Rick Santorum Is a Cafeteria Catholic

Rick Savonarola Santorum is the sort of Catholic who likes to chide other Catholics who use birth control or are pro-choice as “Cafeteria Catholics,” who pick what they like from Catholic doctrine and ignore the rest.

But he too is a Cafeteria Catholic.  The Catholic Church rejects the doctrine of pre-emptive war, but Santorum is pushing for us to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities.  That’s a place where he and I agree, and where we both differ with our Church.

He’s saying that, unlike President Kennedy, he would follow the Vatican’s orders if he were president.  So Rick, that means you would let Iran get a nuclear weapon.

Santorum Makes Me Want to Throw Up

Rick Savonarola Santorum just keeps digging.  Today he said that President Kennedy’s speech assuring the country that he wouldn’t take orders from the Vatican made him “want to throw up.”

Santorum said:  “I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.”

I don’t believe in an America where the Pope tells our president what to do, and the president tells us what to do based on his religion.

There are lots of things in the Constitution you can argue about, but whether or not this country was intended to be a theocracy is not one of them.