Friday, September 11, 2015

Why Americans May Not Want To Hear What Pope Francis Has To Say To Them

Pope Francis biographer Paul Vallely predicts what we might expect from the pontiff when he visits the United States later this month.  Here is a taste of his article a Politico:

In his speech to a joint meeting of Congress, the pope of the poor could well deliver a harsh message for the world’s richest nation. For all the genuine warmth of his smile, his track record suggests he sees it as his job not just to comfort the afflicted, but also to afflict the comfortable. And however delicately he fine-tunes his language, the hard fact is that he believes the United States is as much a part of the problem as the solution.

For more than a century, popes have made nuanced criticisms of the free-market capitalism that drives the American dream. But Pope Francis, with an unprecedented vigor, is locking horns with much that Washington and Wall Street hold dear. Why does he take such a hard line?

In the two-plus years since his election, he has enchanted and bewildered the world in equal measure with his compassion and his contradictions. But he has also proved himself a wily and sophisticated politician. Understanding this side of Francis—capable of crafty maneuvering, unafraid of confrontation, ready to seek out unlikely allies—is essential for understanding the complicated effect he is having on American politics.

The pope born in Argentina as Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been called both a Marxist and a reactionary. But unpack the long biography of this 78-year-old cleric, and a more complex and intriguing reality emerges. Francis has never embraced one particular political ideology, though he has been comfortable around people who have. His first boss, the woman who ran the Buenos Aires chemistry laboratory where he worked, was a Communist whose diligence and integrity he greatly admired. “Marxist ideology is wrong,” the pope said in 2013, “but in my life I have known many Marxists who are good people, so I don’t feel offended.”

I love this quote: "Francis has never embraced one particular political ideology, though he has been comfortable around people who have."  

I imagine that Francis has spent a lot of time with liberals, conservatives, the poor, academics, theologians, working people, capitalists, etc....What might our society look like if more people lived like this?