There seems to be much for we non-Catholics to like about the new Pope Francis. We don’t grant much earthly deity status to our pastors, synod bishops or denomination leaders. It seems most other sects or religious groups don’t, either.
In the America of past decades, the leader of the Roman papal hierarchy has had a disproportionate impact and influence upon our total citizenry. Pronouncements from the pope are held in esteem and disseminated as strong edicts that sometimes become controlling laws, not just for Catholics, but all Americans.
What emanates from the mouths of popes often becomes law or regulation of our land.
More often than not, that is good. And whatever is the result, it usually nudges our society in the right direction.
However, there are times where it also borders on, or treads on, our jealously portrayed and contended separation of church and state. Therefore, I believe that a long-term effect of what Pope Francis is doing early in his tenure is a hopeful indication of better things to come.
The ways in which he speaks, both vocally and in his actions, and his very modest, seemingly sincere style of living appear to be the best example of what religious, Christ-like service and leadership should be.
I am optimistic that his pronouncements will help steer all of us toward more tolerance, and more sympathy for plights of those afflicted, and more empathy for the myriad problems and decisions we collectively face.
I start out hopeful and believe that his public statements will have long-term effects of less violence, more tolerance and more acceptance of those born, or who are different, from the nebulous ”us.”
I have long felt that the grave consequences and anguish over all the complex quandaries involving abortion are not conducive to political resolution. Most strongly advanced views and pronouncements on abortion matters seem to follow very closely the religious teachings of the person’s youth or the actual personal experience of the person directly faced with the decision, and those facing it with her.
That doesn’t seem to prevent any and all from speaking — yes, shouting, long and loud — but it seems simply to observe that is the way most of us come to our viewpoints on the subject.
I digress for a moment to express the observation that personal opinions are not made nor changed in the political arena. Hopefully Pope Francis’ pronouncement to ease off a bit on the degree and tone of repetitive teaching of the church positions will encourage more civil discussion and consideration of the very difficult subject matter that we old males need never face directly, but affects all of us indirectly.
A hardline approach may well prevail, at least in the short term. It may prevail if there are enough of that same view; it may prevail if expressed sufficiently vociferously; it may prevail if enough money is available to and expended by the proponents.
But hardline approaches also often backfire. Note the early year Netanyahu. A hardline approach may create its own extreme or dug-in line of resistance. It may incite and encourage a new and expanded level or opposition or resistance.
It most certainly will discourage civil discussion and consideration for compromise, which, in most instances, is required to achieve a resolution.
Just as Pope Francis recognized and stated that his beloved church might tone down what might be viewed as overemphasis on a few doctrine subjective matters, we are overdue in both our inter-party politics and intra-party politics. We proclaim so much and we accomplish so little when we scream at each other from afar, rather than just talking, at least somewhat politely, in expressing our disagreements.
A longer column would include somewhat parallel discussion of other subjects mentioned by Pope Francis, such as homosexuality, gay marriage, contraception and other life issues, but it’s time to go duck hunting in North Dakota (for the 63rd year).
For now, this opinionated columnist is of the opinion that you Catholics have selected, or have had selected for you, a pretty good pope.