This blog now contains over 630 posts. Here, slightly revised, is a post that was first published on June 10, 2015 – and is even more important today.
“Is the Pope a communist?” This opening line of a 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! Then many 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 during the 2016 Presidential election campaign, “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 bold stroke statements than to deal with the complicated background of most issues. We owe it to ourselves and our world to research the issues facing us, to fact check, and to consider options before we choose our position.
NOTE: If you are interested in the remarkable life of Pope Francis check out my book recommendation of Pilgrimage, My Search for the Real Pope Francis by Mark K. Shriver.