Thursday, February 18, 2016

What does Pope Francis consider a Christian to be?

Apparently one who doesn't disagree with him on immigration.  Not that I support Trump's foolish proposals or gut-wrenching rhetoric.  But not a Christian?  Really Pope Francis?  This is what it takes for you to step out and judge someone's Christian identity?  Then how about pro-choice Catholics like Nancy Pelosi?  What about gay marriage advocates and promoters of the sex and drugs culture in the age of 30 million dead from AIDS?  How about someone famous who makes it clear that the Church comes a distant second to our own preferences on social issues, like Martin Sheen?  Are they Christian? 

I'm fine if Pope Francis wants to wade into the political ring and start passing out condemnations and accusations about the spiritual state of different politicians.  Have at it.  That's like the good old days of Medieval Europe when excommunications flew around like sparrows.  Don't stop with America either.  There are plenty of options in Europe and Latin America as well.  But if it only comes out due to a single issue, and one that is complex and in fact beyond just the simple 'good or evil, pick one of two options' framework of the current debate, then I have issues.

True, Pope Francis backpedaled a bit and gave the benefit of the doubt over whether Trump said such things.  But it's worth noting again what I've been saying.  The Church leadership, as well as Pope Francis (and to a lesser extent, Pope Benedict) have been slowly pushing the sins of the Left to the side as mere points of disagreement.  Even if they are evil, they are not game changers.  While, on the other hand, increasingly if you don't accept the policy solutions aligned with liberal and secular socialists and Democrats, some talk as if your very salvation can be in jeopardy.  Who beyond me sees a problem there? 

Go after Trump all you like.  Nancy Pelosi, too.  John Kerry.  Marco Rubio.  Go on.  Get involved.  But make sure sin is sin, and evil is evil, and if judge the Christian identity of one person, be prepared to do it for all.  Otherwise, consistency will be out the window and we'll have opened up a major case to be made that the agenda is far less Catholic than it is political.  Which, of course, is one of the ongoing criticisms even liberal Evangelicals have of Latin American liberation theologies.  We'll see.


  1. Well the pope was being downright charitable when you compare him to Fathe Dwight Longeneker the other day.
    Of course I think that Father may be on the something.

  2. Oh the problems with Trump are legion, for they are many. And it scares me that we've come to a point where he could even be close to the nomination. Not because of him, but because of who might be next down the road. But my problem isn't so much that Pope Francis said it. He can say what he wants. It's comparing it to his reaction to other issues and other individuals who hold to things like abortion rights or gay marriage. And it's those who condemned anyone for wanting a pope to say this who are now running around cheering that one finally did - against who they wanted. Those are my issues.

  3. I guess my problem is that this isn't a part of a speech so much as the direct answer to a question

    Phil Pullella, Reuters: Today, you spoke very eloquently about the problems of immigration. On the other side of the border, there is a very tough electoral battle. One of the candidates for the White House, Republican Donald Trump, in an interview recently said that you are a political man and he even said that you are a pawn, an instrument of the Mexican government for migration politics. Trump said that if he’s elected, he wants to build 2,500 kilometers of wall along the border. He wants to deport 11 million illegal immigrants, separating families, etcetera. I would like to ask you, what do you think of these accusations against you and if a North American Catholic can vote for a person like this?

    Pope Francis: Thank God he said I was a politician because Aristotle defined the human person as 'animal politicus.' At least I am a human person. As to whether I am a pawn, well, maybe, I don't know. I'll leave that up to your judgment and that of the people. And then, a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel. As far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I am not going to get involved in that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt."
    What is he supposed to do dive into a complete non sequitur about Nancy Pelosi at this point. Heck reading his actual complete statement, it doesn't really match the NYTimes (aka The Devils Bible) characterization.
    The following is the complete text of the Pope's interview.
    Stay away from the NYTimes there is no truth in it.

  4. There seems to be some walking back on what the Pope said. Many are parsing it to suggest he didn't mean Trump wasn't a Christian if he said such things. Others are sticking to their guns and insisting that he not only meant Trump isn't a Christian, but it's awesome that he said it. That's the thing I notice. One, the difference in how Pope Francis reacts to some sins that cry out to Heaven for vengeance as opposed to others, and two, the reaction of Catholics. Many who are cheering over what Pope Francis said were quick to condemn Catholics a few years ago who wished previous popes would say the same thing. They were called Combox Inquisitors. They were accused of being zealots for judging the spiritual state of others. And now? Complete flip flop. Whatever Pope Francis meant or exactly what he said, those are the two things I'm watching.

  5. Personally, so much is dependent on what context the pope is placed in. Most people saw St John Paul as a conservative and BXVI as well, for that matter. So their words get translated a certain way. Francis is seen as a liberal, and his words are translated in a different way. Now much of the Church in the west is split along a liberal/conservative axis each favoring one or the other and demanding blind obedience to the Pontiff depending on whether they see him on their side or not. Now if we through out the whole liberal/conservative axis and simply look at the pope as orthodox then JPII BXVI and Francis sound all the same.

  6. I think there is a split in the West, but I also think it’s a mistake to think the West alone has it’s extra-ecclesiastical influences. For me, I like Pope Francis as a person, but I can’t for the life of me separate him from the liberation theologies of Latin America, especially the economic ones. There are, BTW, more than one type of liberation theology. Liberation theology is a broad term under which many different types can live: economic based on Marxist thought, Black theology, feminist theology, etc. I never studied liberation theologies in a Catholic context, but based on Protestant traits of liberation theology, Pope Francis echoes them pretty consistently.

    As for this, the question is ‘why?’. Why this? He has met with leaders and been questioned about leaders who advocate abortion, gay marriage, assisted suicide. He met with Castro. A man who has terrorized, tortured, and murdered his own people. And yet nothing about ‘can’t be Christian’ there that I know of. But take immigration, again a complex issue being twisted by partisans into a Luke vs. Vader level morality, and he jumps in and seems to affirm such a superficial, dare I say partisan, view. That’s part of the question, if not the problem.


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