The visit of Pope Francis to the US has raised a number of interesting reactions. Perhaps the most important to many of us is the way his presence and witness has raised such anger among the right-wing conservatives. They do not like what he has to say and haven't for a very long time. Since he made his first social statements through his address to Congress he has taken a clear stand that spirituality has something to do with how we all live.
Now, on the surface it would seem that these conservatives would like what he has been doing. They have been the ones saying that the Bible must be believed and that religious beliefs should be considered when electing a president. They have taken what they deem to be the "moral" position that the country should follow. Remember, they even started out calling themselves the "moral majority."
Unfortunately their religious position sounds a great deal like right-wing political talking points. My cynicism even leads me to think from time to time that these positions are political, not religious, positions. They are taken in order to win votes. By appearing to be the religiously good people, these politicians are hoping to to get the votes needed to tale power.
Then along comes a person of spirituality and faith expressed in, and an expression of, their religion. Suddenly the political "spirituality" is shown as wanting. The narrowness of opinion, the anger, the judgmentalism is exposed. The Pope becomes an anti-Christ or a false prophet. Why? Because he disagrees with the status quo. Why? Because he challenges the narrow, uncaring attitude in the politically "spiritual."
It is one thing to develop one's political understanding out of one's spiritual and religious outlook. It is entirely different to develop the spiritual understanding from the political. The latter is pandering to the world's views; the former is trying to be faithful. The latter tends to be based on fear; the former has discovered the hope of faith.
Do I agree with everything the Pope says? Of course not. I think he has a way to go yet on women's activities in the church, including ordination. I disagree with his unbending anti-abortion stance. I think he needs to be even more aware of and responsive to those who have been hurt by the church- the abused, the indigenous peoples. But that doesn't mean he is a false prophet. Nor does it mean that I am a better Christian than he is because of my stance. The ideologues of either side would have us be in 100% agreement on everything. That is not the way human relationships work.
The Pope spoke. He comes from a different point of view than most of us white US citizens. He does not have the narrow view that some of his US opponents want him to have.
Thank God he is a prophet. Prophets are never popular with the powers that be- or those seeking to get that power.
This week the voice of a prophet named Francis was heard in our land. Praise God.