Who Is Pope Francis? Part 4


From TPM Reader MS

Kudos, Josh Marshall, for an insightful essay today. Although you are not Catholic, you perfectly expressed what many of us are feeling: simple wonder and amazement about Pope Francis and his direct expression of Gospel values.

I’m from the demographic that the Pope’s survey is talking about: a same-sex married person who is raising my adopted children as practicing Catholics. The little parish that we belong to is an oasis and an anomaly: we have been enthusiastically welcomed and supported, sacramentally and socially, with no questions asked. In return, we hold nothing back … we actively volunteer, give financial support, participate in hours of religious ed and social justice committee meetings, and go to Mass with enthusiasm.

When I first read His Holiness’ interview about gay priests (“who are we to judge?”), I cried. To think that the Official Church would stop being a stumbling block to so many people … and just get out of Jesus’ way for a change?!? I couldn’t believe it. Today’s announcement of the survey is another “pinch me” moment for marginalized people – whether gay and lesbian, divorced, sympathetic to the above, or just fearful of a Church they perceived as bigoted and narrow minded.

It doesn’t dampen my excitement one bit to know that the Official Doctrine about marriage hasn’t changed and maybe won’t change. There was some guy in Palestine who really got annoyed when people put doctrinal consistency ahead of pastoral care and justice for the poor. The rule applies to me just as it does to the bishops: those who elevate “mere human precepts” as God’s laws are not giving true worship (Matthew 15:9). We need to stop judging each other and focus on the bigger picture.

The historical Jesus was pretty clear and simple in his message: to worship God, you need to lovingly care for the poor, the sick, the lonely and the marginalized. It’s so simple, yet seemingly so easy to screw up if history is any guide. The only difference with His Holiness Pope Francis is that he is saying the message directly. If only 20% of his followers actually listen, what a beautiful world we would have!