One of my favorite pastimes is to criticize the institutions of organized religion all over the world. However, with the new Pope Francis at the helm of the Catholic Church, there is reason to appreciate the Church more than any other time I can remember.
Perhaps the most significant and surprising statements by Francis was his relaxed statement concerning gays and lesbians. Francis stated that “If a person loves God, who am I to judge him?” This represents a great and powerful turning point, and should show that the Catholic Church and hopefully its followers are all moving into the 21st century of social acceptance. The importance of accepting people regardless of their love interests cannot be overstated, and with the head of the Church now stating he is not condemning such behavior, the public view of Catholicism should improve.
This improvement is necessary, especially in America after the scandals that rocked the priesthoods here in recent years. Restoring the good image and good graces of the church to the American public seemed like a near impossible task before Pope Francis. However, his policies have made him a very well-liked individual.
Francis’ policy towards money is also particularly interesting in that he has condemned monetary idolatry both in the church and in economics. Lambasting trickle down economics as unproven and leaving many people hurting, while also being committed to a poorer and humbler church, the father to so many is doing great things for his flock. The fact that a pope is criticizing the rich, especially when they hoard money, is very significant, especially when the Catholic Church does not really have the reputation of being thrifty.
A German bishop resigned recently after a bit of a spending scandal that really goes against Francis’ message of frugality. Several bishops, particularly in America, are beginning to sell off assets or suspend large and expensive construction projects. Not because of necessity, but because of the desire to have a more humble and relatable image to the common people. Million dollar estates are now looked down upon in many areas of the Catholic Church, which is a complete turnaround thanks to Francis.
The pope has given many statements about toleration of other religions and ideas, and is very encouraging of people in the church trying new things. This is in stark contrast to other religions around the world. Islam continually struggles with the daily news reports of Islamist extremists bombing more innocent people, and religious belief as a whole has dropped steadily in the industrialized world over the last 50 years. Perhaps the pope has figured out the best way to bring those who are wavering closer to the church, by not condemning or alienating groups, but by reaching out and preaching tolerance of them. A modern interpretation of the Bible is necessary to keep people believing in religion into the future, and shedding the ideas of things like an actual hell and that women are somehow inferior are a great start by the papacy.
The CSU campus community has sizable population of Catholics, and it’s a really great thing to have them and members of every religion here on campus. And with all of the aid and care that Catholics give to communities, particularly the very needy, coupled with this new-found age of tolerance, the Catholic Church is looking pretty good.
Religion is flawed, because the people who run it, like all humans, are flawed as well. But, religion is also very powerful, and when utilized properly, can motivate people to do extremely wonderful things. With Pope Francis at the helm of Catholicism, many great things may come to pass in the near future. Which is great, for people who either follow a religion or not.
Catholics are very devout to the pope; his is expected to be the leader, a voice for God on Earth. This means he has a great deal of sway with over 1.5 billion people. And when this leader is devoted to helping the poor, and dawning a new era of acceptance and toleration, the world has a greater chance to be better off than it was before. Not everyone can say they have made that much of a difference, definitely not every pope, but if Catholics want a prominent place in the future of the world, Pope Francis is steering them in the correct direction.
Res Stecker may be atheistic, but can admire the new Catholic Church. Feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The new views and practices of the pope, especially on homosexuality, are to be admired.
The Catholic Church is looking pretty good right about now, and has aided a lot of people.
The Pope has a great deal of control over those who believe in Catholicism, and he has been an excellent leader.