I can understand those of you who are thinking, after reading the headline to this post, that what follows is just another anti-Catholic screed, after all, there's a boat load of them out there... but please, stay with us.
The owner of that quote after all is Tod Worner, who writes beautifully of the faith tradition he's embraced fully, the same faith tradition I've grown to love:
This week the 266th man to hold the Chair of St. Peter arrived in the United States. Thus far, he has been greeted on the tarmac at St. Andrew’s Air Force Base, welcomed to the White House and received
by American Bishops. Not long ago, he performed the rites of Canonization of Blessed Junipero Serra. And now, he is the first Pope to address a joint session of Congress.
And do you know what?
I don’t even care what Pope Francis says.
Okay, okay…Now, understand, my tongue is firmly fixed in my cheek when I say this.
But just for a moment, consider this. What are the odds that after Roman Empire persecutions, self-immolating European religious wars, French revolutionary fervor, Nazi terror, Communist oppression and draconian secular fundamentalism, the Catholic Faith’s earthly representative – the Vicar of Christ – rooted in love and mercy would stand smiling, serene and central in the backyard of the world’s greatest superpower.
Just what does that say?
It says what Bishop Robert Barron recalls being told by Francis Cardinal George when Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was named Pope Benedict XVI in 2005. George drew deeply upon his musings as he stood next to the new pope on the balcony at St. Peter’s Basilica.
“I was gazing toward the Circus Maximus, toward the Palatine Hill where the Roman emperors once resided and reigned and looked down upon the persecution of Christians, and I thought, ‘Where are their successors? Where is the successor of Caesar Augustus? Where is the successor of Marcus Aurelius? And finally, who cares? But if you want to see the successor of Peter, he is right next to me, smiling and waving at the crowds.’”
And so too, among the President, First Family, national and international dignitaries, military personnel and countless faithful, the pope quietly stood with eyes fixed on him. Again, just what does this say? It says that a stooped, elderly smiling man donning white vestments and clutching a ferula is not the representative of an ossifying, antiquated, irrelevant institution. Oh, no. Rather, he represents a vibrant, faithful and glorious tradition that continues to capture hearts and the imagination. He symbolizes uncompromising advocacy for human dignity, a heart of inexhaustible mercy, a spirit of faithful accountability, and a yearning for unending peace. He points, forever points, to Christ saying, “Do whatever he asks.” The Pope capably says so very, very much…
And this is before he utters one word.
Read the whole thing and be moved.
There's a tremendous amount of carping and harping about what the Pope is or isn't saying and sadly, too much of it is coming from fellow Catholics and other Christians who seem to be forgetting (or more likely, simply ignoring) key tenets of the faith.
I'm with Rebecca Hamilton on this:
If your god resides in the R or the D, there was something to hate and also something to love in this speech. You could, depending on your personality, walk away from it, angry as a snake biting itself. Or, you could, if you’re turned differently, be patting yourself on the back.
The truth of this speech is that it wasn’t a speech, it was a sermon delivered by a Pope who is first of all a priest, who takes the care of souls as his first duty before God. If you listened to what Pope Francis said today with the ear of someone who reads Scripture on a daily basis, the entire speech echoed Jesus, preaching to and teaching us to care for the least of these, Who told us that the measure by which we judge others would be the measure by which God would judge us.
It was clear to me, after my long years of sitting through joint sessions and reading politicians that the assembled body of listeners were as unmoved by the Holy Father’s words as the stone pillars of the building in which they sat. These people do not listen to anyone who stands in that podium — not even the pope — to be instructed. They listen to be affirmed.
When they felt affirmed, they applauded. When the pope said something that differed from their politics, their faces hardened subtly and their eyes filmed over with an “I-won’t-hear-you” glaze.
Her piece should also be read in its entirety.
And then some serious introspection should follow, particularly if you're one of those who've been carping and harping.