Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter —Pope Francis is one of the more positive aspects of Christianity today

By SJ Otto
Easter is the highest holy day in the Christian Calendar. It's been a few decades since I left the Catholic Church. I now consider myself an Epicurean. So I'm not even a Christian. One thing I do like is the Catholic Church's present day Pope Francis. He was a wonderful change from Pope Paul VI, and Pope John Paul II. Those Pope had replaced Pope John XXIII, who was one of Catholicism more progressive popes. It was terrible to see such reactionary popes come, one after the other, to drive the church back to the middle ages.

I was raised a Catholic and went to a Catholic School from Kindergarten through 5th grade. I also spent a year at Bishop Carroll Catholic High School. So I understood the church and its teachings well. My Catholic teachers tried to tell us the Church was no longer a political establishment as it had been in the Middle Ages. As I found out, that was not really true. From the Nazi pope, Benedict XVI, to anti-communist activists, such as Pope John Paul II, and direct meddling in election contests over the abortion issue, the church has been up to its eyeballs in politics.
It's not that Pope Francis in not political, but he has some of that left-leaning criticism of capitalism and the political politics of greed. While Pope John Paul II tried to destroy liberation theology, Pope Francis seems to almost be a part of that. If it weren't for liberation theology I probably would have left the Catholic Church a lot sooner.
I like this quote by Pope Francis:

“It has been said many times and my response has always been that, if anything, it is the communists who think like Christians. Christ spoke of a society where the poor, the weak and the marginalized have the right to decide. Not demagogues, not Barabbas, but the people, the poor, whether they have faith in a transcendent God or not. It is they who must help to achieve equality and freedom”. 

I noticed on TV today that Pope Francis took his name from one of the few Catholic Saints I really admire. His birth name is Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Saint Francis of Assisi gave up his wealth and dressed as a poor commoner. He had little interest in personal wealth. I admire that. We should all look up to people who tried to be commoners rather than $billionaires who fancy themselves as presidential material.

I don't plan to return to Catholicism. I'm doing OK with Epicurus. But I'm glad some good has finally come out of the Catholic Church. For too long that church has been a refuge for the powerful and greedy. Now they are giving back to the common people. That's what is needed in politics and religion —a sense that we should serve the common people and help the poor. Not worship the rich and powerful. 

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