Stunning claim: Pope is Catholic!

Is this man a Catholic?

Is this man a Catholic?

I have one friend on Facebook who is a Pentecostal preacher and one who is an Episcopal priest. Neither man is happy with the present bishop of Rome, albeit for different reasons that I think are illuminating.

Recently, my Pentecostal friend posted a link to a YouTube video in which a man purporting to be an ex-rabbi gave a rambling explanation of why, according to the Torah, Francis is the anti-Christ.

“I disagree with one issue he brings up,” wrote the Pentecostal. “I believe the Pope is the false prophet rather than anti-Christ, but just a minor technicality and one that is based on personal revelation rather than any corporal doctrine.”

In a nice display of symmetry, on the same day the Episcopal priest posted a link to a story about Francis’ recent condemnation of same-sex marriage and wrote, “Same as the old pope?”

I think about these reactions whenever I read an article like this one, which exists to point out the seemingly hoary truism that the pope is indeed Catholic (there’s a splendid e-book with a similar title for sale, cheap, if you’re into being well-informed and sexy).

What my Pentecostal friend gets that my Episcopal friend is only gradually realizing is that Francis is indeed “same as the old pope,” in the sense that every pope is the same: the chief advocate and promoter of the Catholic Church and its doctrines, which have remained pretty much consistent on sexuality for a long, long time.

The Pentecostal understands that it’s the job, not the man, that’s important, which is why he says what people in the mechanic preacher tradition of Protestantism have been saying since Thomas Muntzer’s ill-fated attempt to catch cannon balls in the sleeves of his robe: the pope is the anti-Christ, the false prophet, the Whore of Babylon, Gargamel, whatever.

The fact that people on both “the left” and “the right” are continuously baffled that the pope is acting like popes have always acted is a testament the power of a good narrative, not to anything radically different in this pope from his recent predecessors.

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7 Responses to Stunning claim: Pope is Catholic!

  1. Mike the Heathen says:

    Depends on the subject. No one should expect the RCC to start performing same sex marriages or ordaining women clergy anytime soon. That being said the degree to which Pope Francis is same-old-same-old still remains to be seen.

    “We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market. Growth in justice requires more than economic growth, while presupposing such growth: it requires decisions, programmes, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality.” – Pope Francis (‘Evangelii Gaudium’)

    I’m willing to entertain (barely, for now) the notion that he made a spiritual call against greed and corruption rather than a political one for socialism… which would be a very radical break from church tradition, indeed.

  2. Ryan Price says:

    Well, when pictures surface of the Pope posting up Rodman in North Korea, the egg will firmly be splattered on your face, Mr. Breen. Affirming the position of the church to remove itself from the idolatry of money hardly means that he’s secretly reading Marx under the covers at night, despite rumors to the contrary that suggest an imposter, dressed as Francis dressed as a priest is out doing good at night so he can get to his reading.

  3. sharon says:

    In writing, I can believe that previous popes have said the same things about unbridled capitalism and supply-side economics. But verbally? And how many of them gave interviews?

    I don’t know why he’s getting so much press on these issues. Especially from FOX, which I would have assumed would just keep quiet and ignore him. Unless Roger Ailes and his cohort at the top have decided they can’t get any more mileage out of the unholy alliance between evangelicals and Catholics on the two or three issues that Francis has plainly said should not be the one and only focus of the Church. For the last 20 or so years, both sides played along, pretending that other differences didn’t matter if an alliance meant they could wipe out legal abortion and force homosexuality back into the closet.

  4. Jac says:

    I don’t understand the confusion and name calling (although I have not been following this much as a non-Catholic). Is it anti-Christ to feed the poor, care for the sick, and help the afflicted – I.e. follow the teachings of Jesus? If so, what Christ have they created to suit their own purposes, and why would anyone listen to the fiction? Jesus shared & cared, and asked that we do the same and treat our neighbors as we would treat ourselves, or him. Why people don’t see that as step one to being Christian is beyond me. If we could all do just that, the world would be a much better place.

    • sharon says:

      As I read somewhere on the intertubes within the last week or two, and am paraphrasing, Jesus didn’t come to start a new religion, Jesus came to show us how to be fully human. Francis strikes me the same way. When he speaks to the people, it’s from his heart, it’s not dogma. I’m sure that in his youth he could, and did, argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but as a mature human being, he knows that’s the wrong question. I won’t go so far as to say that I’m a mature human being, but I’ve been around long enough to agree with what Thomas Cahill said to Bill Moyers recently. The differences in dogma among all the Christian sects is irrelevant, and we need to just stop arguing. Just stop. Cahill said the latest exhortation, the one that has raised so many hackles, never once mentions “Catholics,” but only “Christians.” That’s a beautiful thing.

      • Jac says:

        And the simplest, most basic teaching of Christ was the Golden Rule, also found in just about every other religion. Dogma is a distraction. It even goes beyond Christianity.