– Augustine of Hippo, Confessions (Outler translation)
Pope Francis I Describes the Religious Right to a Tee(party):
We are all familiar with the Religious Right’s oft-repeated assertion that we have become a “Pagan” nation. That we worship secularism; that secularism and liberalism are somehow religions. That we, in effect, worship an ideology and that ideology is our god. This cry has become so prevalent I could hardly list all our accusers here.
Not so fast, says the new pope.
Though not naming them, Pope Francis I Thursday described the tea party to a tee, if you will pardon the pun. On the occasion of daily mass on Thursday of this past week, the Pope identified a new sin: turning faith into ideology.
Watch video, courtesy of Rome Reports, below:
Radio Vatican reports the Pope’s words:
The faith passes, so to speak, through a distiller and becomes ideology. And ideology does not beckon [people]. In ideologies there is not Jesus: in his tenderness, his love, his meekness. And ideologies are rigid, always. Of every sign: rigid.
And when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought… For this reason Jesus said to them: ‘You have taken away the key of knowledge.’ The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements.
The faith becomes ideology and ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people, distances, distances the people and distances of the Church of the people,” Francis added. “But it is a serious illness, this of ideological Christians. It is an illness, but it is not new, eh?
Citing an example already from the first Christian century, Pope Francis added that,
Already the Apostle John, in his first Letter, spoke of this. Christians who lose the faith and prefer the ideologies. His attitude is: be rigid, moralistic, ethical, but without kindness. This can be the question, no? But why is it that a Christian can become like this? Just one thing: this Christian does not pray. And if there is no prayer, you always close the door.
Without kindness. Few would find kindness in the ideology of he Religious Right.
The Pope said prayer is the answer, but the Religious Right might want to note what he means by prayer:
The key that opens the door to the faith,” the Pope added, “is prayer.” The Holy Father warned: “When a Christian does not pray, this happens. And his witness is an arrogant witness.” He who does not pray is “arrogant, is proud, is sure of himself. He is not humble. He seeks his own advancement.”
Sound familiar? It should.
Instead, he said, “when a Christian prays, he is not far from the faith; he speaks with Jesus.” And, the Pope said, “I say to pray, I do not say to say prayers, because these teachers of the law said many prayers” in order to be seen. Jesus, instead, says: “when you pray, go into your room and pray to the Father in secret, heart to heart.” The pope continued: “It is one thing to pray, and another thing to say prayers.
These do not pray, abandoning the faith and transforming it into moralistic, casuistic ideology, without Jesus. And when a prophet or a good Christian reproaches them, they the same that they did with Jesus: ‘When Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him’ – they are ideologically hostile – ‘and to interrogate him about many things,’ – they are insidious – ‘for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.’ They are not transparent. Ah, poor things, they are people dishonoured by their pride. We ask the Lord for Grace, first: never to stop praying to never lose the faith; to remain humble, and so not to become closed, which closes the way to the Lord.
Many would question the efficacy of prayer, but there is no questioning the Pope’s refreshingly open and accepting message.
Pope Francis I has been a pleasant surprise to many; an inconvenience to others. Liberals appreciate the Pope’s tolerance, especially after Pope Benedict XVI’s attitude that Truth trumps tolerance. This Pope, instead, asks who he is to judge others. Words are coming out of this Pope’s mouth that might have come from Jesus’, a rare treat after so many centuries of the same rigid ideological positions the Pope warned againstThursday.
Certainly his message will be ignored by the ideologically-driven Religious Right, which has reduced Jesus’ message to one of condemnation of homosexuality. The Religious Right serves America’s wealthy, ignoring Jesus’ actual message: it is not homosexuals Jesus condemns to hell, after all, but the rich; it is not the rich or the heterosexual who are exalted, but the poor. Rather than the Lord’s Prayer, which speaks of forgiving trespasses, the Religious Right embraces imprecatory prayer; rather than love and forgiveness, their message is one of hate and condemnation.
Religion News Service addressed the reaction of conservative Catholics to Pope Francis back in August:
Jeffrey Tucker, editor of the New Liturgical Movement blog, wrote as Francis basked in the glow of media coverage of his recent trip to Brazil.
“Every day and in every way we are being told how glorious it is that the bad old days are gone and the new good days are here,” he lamented.
Tucker and other traditionalists who are dedicated to high church rituals have been especially miffed at Francis’ simple — they might say simplistic — style since the moment the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was introduced to the world as the new pope back in March.
Fascinating, isn’t it? Jesus had a simplistic style as well. Jesus didn’t have fancy robes and motorcades. He did not live in a palace. He did not use the modern transportation of the period – the horse or a wagon. He walked. He was one of the people, a Galilean among Galileans, a Jew among Jews; he moved among the people and spoke to them in ways they could understand.
We have long wondered how the Religious Right would react to Jesus if he returned today. In the reaction of conservative Catholics and Protestants who condemn Francis’ message and style, we have our answer. If they react thus to Francis’ message, how much more violent the reaction to Jesus’ far more radical message?
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.