Thread: Pope Francis
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Old 12-27-2013, 02:47 AM
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Default Pope Francis (continued)

[continued from above]

From: kdt26417
To: Astronomer
Cc: the Rest of the Gang
Sent: Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hmmm, what would I do if I were the Pope. That, then, is perhaps our new topic? It would certainly be a challenging topic.

Technically, I guess the Pope can do darn near whatever he wants. He is, after all, the Pope, amirite? but how to maximize the effectiveness of his office in bringing about positive social change, that is the question.

The truth is, Pope Francis is probably a lot more limited in what he can do than he'd like to be. If he goes too far in eschewing traditions such as the Bible, he'll incite the wrath of too many Catholics (and even of people of other faiths). All that would accomplish is a bunch of contention. He'd probably rather lead humanity bit by bit in the right direction as the majority becomes ready and willing to hear a new message.

I'd probably start with a general statement something like, "We accept the Bible as an imperfect book as it has passed through the hands of many mortal scholars." I wouldn't even try to change (or subtract from) the Bible at first. I'd just leave that little gem of wisdom for the world to chew on for awhile. Later, if I was still around and a considerable number of people seemed ready to accept some specific changes, I might start issuing general advice to take certain specific verses with a grain of salt. If I really got lucky I might live long enough for people to accept a few physical edits to the most egregious verses.

Pope Francis seems to have a specifically Democratic/Left-Wing agenda. He isn't as concerned about which specific actions of humanity are the most grevious, as he is steering the Church away from a generally Republican/Right-Wing mindset. Thus, if it's a cause that the Democratic Party has adopted, you'll probably find Pope Francis adopting it too. Based on the website where I got those quotes, he seems to be especially intent on opposing corporations, consumerism, and the free market system, calling to replace it with considerable government intervention and control over charity and the marketplace. He seems to blame the lion's share of the world's poverty on the "natural marriage" of greed and capitalism.

I find economic matters to be too complicated to paint that much in black and white terms, and it's very possible that the marketplace needs some governmental controls but not too many. I'm also concerned about the environment but not to the point, for example, where I'd condemn all oil drilling, or where I'd cry out for all nuclear plants to be shut down. Instead, I am more pleased with the Pope's positions on the following matters (these are just the ones I'm aware of -- as I checked Wikipedia -- -- to improve my knowledge):
  • more emphasis on tenderness, mercy and compassion;
  • more emphasis on helping the poor;
  • acceptance of homosexuals;
  • acceptance of atheists;
  • acceptance of non-Catholics in general;
  • promoting interfaith dialogue;
  • more equal rights for women.
Matters I wish he'd take a stronger stance on:
  • opposition against physical abuse;
  • opposition against the use of torture;
  • opposition against the overuse of prisons;
  • opposition against the sexual abuse of children by priests;
  • promotion of the idea of ordaining women to the priesthood;
  • promotion of the idea of re-interpreting/revising the Bible;
  • promotion of the idea that homosexuality per se isn't a sin;
  • promotion of same-sex marriage.
While admitting that abortion is as complex a matter as the economy, I'll note that "Pope Francis, while affirming the present Church teachings, has stated that Catholics have concentrated officiously on condemning abortion ..." In a word, Francis opposes abortion but not as vigorously as his predecessors. I should also note that while he supports equal rights for women more than prior Popes, he has no known plans for the Church to ordain female priests.

As Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, he said: "Dialogue is born from an attitude of respect for the other person, from a conviction that the other person has something good to say. It assumes that there is room in the heart for the person's point of view, opinion, and proposal. To dialogue entails a cordial reception, not a prior condemnation. In order to dialogue it is necessary to know how to lower the defenses, open the doors of the house, and offer human warmth."

As Pope he said: "We also sense our closeness to all those men and women who, although not identifying themselves as followers of any religious tradition, are nonetheless searching for truth, goodness and beauty, the truth, goodness and beauty of God. They are our valued allies in the commitment to defending human dignity, in building a peaceful coexistence between peoples and in safeguarding and caring for creation."

I'm sorry to say that he's opposed to same-sex marriage. He seems to have called for civil unions as a substitute. His views on homosexuality differ enough from those of former Popes that "the American LGBT magazine 'The Advocate' named Pope Francis their Person of the Year for 2013."

As a bonus Pope Francis is also a plain-dressing Pope, eschews the relatively lavish quarters that former Popes have used, and is the first Jesuit to become Pope (if I understand correctly). He seems to be a remarkably humble man and has spoken out against the Church's obsessing over bureaucratic/dogmatic details.

Hypotheticals about what I'd do as Pope aside, the reality is that becoming a Pope is a highly involved and political process. In light of that, I think we're quite lucky to have the Pope that we now have. I'm encouraged by his relatively good health and I hope he'll be around to "stir up trouble in the Church and worldwide" for a long time.

Even a dedicated Latter-day Saint should be concerned about who the Pope is because the Pope influences so much of the mindset of the world at large. It's because of Pope Francis' acceptance of people of other faiths, for example, that the LDS church will probably enjoy an increased percentage of convert baptisms going forward. On the other hand, some of his liberal views may prove to be an obstacle to the conservative social causes that the LDS church champions.

Ultimately, it should be a concern of Latter-day Saints that the Pope use his office according to the dictates of the Holy Spirit, just as one would hope that a doctor, politician, or anyone else for that matter (but especially anyone with much power and responsibility) would act in accordance to the dictates of the Spirit. As an atheist and "Science worshipper," I hope that whoever the Pope is will carefully act in good conscience at all times.

I'll be thinking more about "what I'd do as Pope" as our discussion continues.
Kevin T.


Thus and so is the email conversation so far.

One of my old friends is a faithful and very conservative Latter-day Saint, and I am of particular hope that he'll be successfully prodded into joining in on the conversation. I know he would provide a contrasting point of view.

So, what do you fellow members here on think of all this?

Kevin T.
Love means never having to say, "Put down that meat cleaver!"
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