“Is the Pope a communist?” This opening line of the latest Heart and Soul broadcast on BBC radio grabbed my attention.
The first voice on the program, Rush Limbaugh, proclaimed that yes, indeed, Pope Francis is a communist! Many other voices from the Catholic church weighed in, explaining the influences on the Pope’s politics and theology:
◊ Growing up in the poverty stricken country of Argentina
◊ Peronism (the nationalist revival begun in Argentina by Juan Peron which was associated closely with the working class and trade unions)
◊ The Jesuit presence in Argentina and the missions by the priests to the indigenous Indians
◊ The Jesuit concept that “the real is more important than ideas”
◊ The version of liberation theology (the gospels always put the poor first, and the church should too) that is particular to Argentina and is anti-Marxist.
The conclusion reached by the host of the show is that Pope Francis has a different understanding of the role of the Catholic Church in society than other popes have had, but he is not a communist.
This blog is not about Pope Francis. It is about the complexity of thought required to reach even a minimal understanding of a subject. It is about whether we have interest in and patience to hear all sides before we take an immovable stance. Life in general and politics and religion in particular are much more nuanced than most of us are willing to admit. It’s much easier to say, as one politician recently said, “Who would vote for that face?” than to learn about and discuss particular policy issues with the woman behind the face. It’s easier to say “deport them all” than to sit down with those who are affected and hear their stories.
And, unfortunately, it is much easier for each of us to support the bold stroke statements than to deal with the complicated background of most issues before we choose our own stance.
NOTE: (You can listen to the program on Pope Francis on the BBC World Service website Search for Heart and Home program on Sept. 20)