I couldn’t really use the title of David Peel’s song about the Pope, it is genuinely disrespectful, I’m thinking the song might be popular among the Cardinals as of late.
Pope Francis has proven to be unconventional, at least on the surface. This is a great thing for Catholicism Inc., the brand has been showing some rough edges and has been losing market share lately. Banishing a Cardinal who spent thirty one million euros on renovations grabbed some headlines. Walk in closets at $475,000? How many red gowns does he have?
The Pope has tried to demonstrate austerity by wearing simple shoes and living in a simple apartment, even though the special red “Pope shoes” had already been made for him, and the luxurious Papal apartments in the Vatican are still maintained. He drives his own car while the popemobile sits in a garage, but he is still surrounded by the Swiss Guard. Even in his attempts to show humbleness, the message is often missed. Recently he received complaints because he had washed the feet of women. The argument was that the ritual represents Jesus washing his disciples feet, and should only include the washing of male feet. The point, of course, is that Jesus didn’t wash the disciples feet because they were men, it was a symbol of humility, not sexism. Being humble before women was apparently more humble than his critics could handle.
This feeds directly to the Pope’s thesis. There is an obsession within the Catholic Church with ritual and ideology. Unfortunately, he’s fighting an uphill battle. No matter how clearly he presents his message (and how much I agree with it), the message gets twisted to serve an ideological point of view. The Pope is not speaking to “Right Wing Christians”, he’s speaking to Catholics who have forgotten the meaning of the rituals they mindlessly perform. Yet some people seem to think that the leader of the Catholic Church is commenting about Protestants. Jesus never visited Egypt, yet these Catholics seem to be swimming in the Nile.
Pope Francis is facing a difficult task, and I am wary of Papal politics, but if he is truly trying to return the Catholic Church to the teachings of Christ, he is to be praised. If he is merely trying to get Catholics back to church, he’s succeeding, I’ve seen many comments from Catholics saying he’s got their attention. If the message works its way through the bureaucracy down to the parish priests, Francis could change the world.
This could be the biggest change since Martin Luther.