Don’t pay attention to the quotes taken out of context and spun to make Pope Francis seem to the left of the trendier than thou Episcopal church.

Go and read what he actually said, and what he has said in the past, and you will find nuances that don’t fit into sound bites.

The Catholic church has always been seen as a family: one modern writer quipped that Catholicism meant “here comes everybody”. It is a hospital for sinners, not a meeting of saints. And like our families, it includes a lot of sinners, hypocrites, and the rest of us who commit sins of bad temper, impatience, laziness, or greed, so as Francis reminds us: Don’t go overboard condemning one sin when there is so much more to being a Christian:

“This church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people. We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity

As someone who has lived and worked in poverty stricken places much of my life, I appreciate the nuances of the pope, not just in this but on how he links mercy to sinners to societal trends.

Yet, from a pastoral point of view, there is a difference between proclaiming right and wrong in a way that pushes folks away from church, and giving a  “get out of hell free” card and become a co-enabler for sociopaths to do whatever they want to do.

Yet what you may not read in the mainstream media is that Francis has lumped this idea that God welcomes sinners with the broader issues of  “pro life” issues: which he sees as part of the culture of life and mercy that is to be proclaimed by the church.

This Francis quote to a Catholic physician meeting, points out that the same modern culture that ignores/destroys the poor in the slums is eager to destroy the child in the womb and the elderly to save money…

A mentality of the useful, the “throw-away culture”, which today enslaves the hearts and minds of so many, has a very high cost: it requires the elimination of human beings, especially if they are physically or socially weaker….In the fragile human being each one of us is invited to recognize the face of the Lord, who in His human flesh experienced indifference, and the solitude to which we often condemn the poorest, both in developing countries and in the countries that are well-off. Every unborn child, but condemned unjustly to be aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ, has the face of the Lord

“The Fragile Human being…is the face of the Lord”.  How many people actually see this?

When a certain American political party promotes abortion as a good thing that allows someone to have a career, don’t expect Francis to approve of their agenda. And as the quote shows, the elimination of the weak won’t stop with the unborn: we already see a steadily increasing drum in the elite media that insists the elderly and disabled need the “right” to commit “suicide”, ignoring the dirty little secret that where this has been instituted in Europe, that most cases were never agreed to by the one who is killed, and that the “Criteria” for being killed keeps stretching to include others whose main sin is to inconvenience their family.

Here in the Third world,  the sins of exploiting the poor, stealing/accepting bribes and corruption, and politically related violence are much more dangerous than worrying about minor sexual shennanigans.

One reason for poverty in the Philippines is corruption: our skilled workers go to many other countries to work, but it is difficult to start a business here due to corruption. And then there are the problems of a shoddy infrastructure because  part of the money went go into someone’s pocket.
We hear sermons all the time to “help the poor”, but rarely sermons that God expects us to serve him in our everyday tasks: that to serve God, we need to be honest, not to steal or cheat, to do an honest day’s work, and be a faithful spouse and care for one’s children.
Nor do we hear sermons on not taking bribes, or see church pressure to ostracize the crooked politicians, even when the crooked politicians get hit men to murder their rivals or local reporters who blow the whistle on their corruption.

Our present administration is proudly “against corruption”, and only the old leftie, Archbishop Cruz, dares to point out that aside from corruption as usual going  on, we are now getting government sponsored “casinos”  that will only benefit the wealthy. They will also result in increased drugs in our slums, along with promoting prostitution and corruption of the poor and street kids.

There is a fine line between loving and accepting the sinner as he or she is, and then seeing this as not asking them to “repent” or change their ways: to show them how the presence of God can help them change their every day lives.

In this, as Francis knows, it is the Protestant churches who teach the rules:  how to live a healthy family life,  how being honest and working hard is also a way to serve God,  By stressing that an honest businessmen can benefit not only his own family but those of his employees, we see a paradigm shift from the idea of charity to the poor to the idea that supplying the poor with jobs so they can get out of poverty is also doing God’s work.

As a result of this emphasis on a loving God who helps you to live a just life, the Protestant forms of Christianity are growing in “Catholic” South America, (and the “catholic” Phlippines, and in officially atheistic China) .

 

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