Positive. The Pope is putting a much-needed, new face on the church, which many Americans currently view as hypocritical, judgmental, mean spirited, and homophobic.
Negative. Jesus said to his disciples, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own” (John 15:19). It’s a dangerous sign when MSNBC, CNN, and the New York Times think you’re great and speak well of you.
Positive. The Pope has said plainly, “I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.” This means that we can say to all the Pope’s new fans, “Well, if he is a sinner, where does that leave you? It looks like you need a Savior too.”
Negative. The idea that the leader of the Catholic Church is just a sinner like the rest of us makes it easy for us to justify sinful behavior in our own lives. After all, we’re just a bunch of sinners!
All this being said, I find it interesting that the same media that was shouting the Pope’s controversial comments from the rooftops took very little note of his more recent comments, dating to September 20th, when he told Catholic gynecologists that, “Every unborn child, though unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of the Lord, who even before his birth, and then as soon as he was born, experienced the rejection of the world.”
He also “strongly condemned abortion as a manifestation of a ‘throwaway culture’” and reaffirmed that life begins at conception. Why hasn’t the media reported on this?
And how long will the media’s love affair with the pope continue if the reports prove true that the Pope “defrocked and excommunicated” an Australian priest in May “because of his radical views on women clergy and gay marriage.”
As noted by Tim Stanley in the UK Telegraph, “From all of last week's headlines saying that the Pope wants to forget this nonsense about abortion and gays, you'd imagine that Germaine Greer had been elected to run the Catholic Church. Actually what the Pope was saying was that he wants the Church to talk more about what it's for than what it’s against. But that doesn't mean it won't still be against those things that contradict its teachings and traditions.” Exactly.
From my perspective, it’s too soon to come to conclusions about Pope Francis, but if he proves to be a radical reformer who holds to core biblical values while challenging the religious system, I say bring it on. If he proves to be more in tune with the spirit of the age then with the Scriptures (and the church’s scripture-affirming traditions), that would be a disaster.
What’s your take?
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.
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