Dear Pope Francis,
I write this not only as a conservative, but as a Catholic. It’s time to give it a rest and get your house in order.
There isn’t a week that goes by without some kind of declaration from you condemning western civilization for some ill somewhere. Climate change, income inequality, health care, you name it and you’ve weighed in on it, and always on the left. No offense, and don’t take this the wrong way, but riding a bike to lower your “carbon footprint” never saved anyone’s soul.
A lot of what you spend your time condemning are veiled swipes at the United States and capitalism. I know you come from a socialist background, but you weren’t elected President, you were elected Pope. As such, maybe you should focus your energy on religious matters and leave governing to the people elected to those jobs.
The other day you said, “An insatiable greed marks all human history, even today, when, paradoxically, a few dine luxuriantly while all too many go without the daily bread needed to survive.” This criticism of consumerism hits me the wrong way. Were it not for people engaging in capitalism, more people would be suffering in poverty. Capitalism is only proven way to move people out of crushing poverty, so complaining about it seems counterproductive.
And let me say this, since you seem to have a problem with wealth – the Catholic Church is filthy rich. It’s bothered me for some time as the church preached charity, that you are sitting on top of one of the wealthiest organizations in the history of the planet. All those framed masterpieces the church owns are amazing, but people can’t live in or eat them.
Don’t get me wrong, Catholic charities do amazing work. But it seems like at a time you’re asking others to do more, you could maybe sell some of the priceless art you have in storage and do more yourself. As the saying goes, leading by example is the most effective type leadership.
While we’re on the subject, and this is what really has me bothered, you have to deal honestly with the scandal that threatens to bring down the church.
As far as I know, I don’t know anyone who was molested by a Catholic priest. But knowing someone or not, we are all disgusted not only by the actions of those priests, but also by the way the church has handled this evil within.
Open up the records, all the records, and let the chips fall where they may. The investigating authorities should not “discover” more victims and perps, you should be leading the charge. The records we’ve seen so far show the church knew and played musical chairs with pervert priests, hiding what they’d done rather than holding them accountable. That’s a stain no amount of piety will ever be able to wash away. Only a full accounting, proactively, will stand a chance to do that. Yet you aren’t.
This abomination didn’t occur during your rein, but you are now the captain of that ship and, as such, the only person in the position to do the right thing. We all know there are still priests in positions around the world who should be removed, either those abusing children or those who’ve helped cover it up. None of them have any business remaining in the church. Forgive them, if they truly seek it, but remove them and work with authorities around the world to ensure they all face justice in life before they face it in the afterlife. Anything short of that is aiding and abetting.
If there’s one thing I can’t stand it is hypocrisy. I read your pronouncements and every single one of them is tainted by what we all know and you only occasionally, and halfheartedly, address. It’s time to come clean.
Will this place a strain on the church? Of course. It will also be a horrible embarrassment to you and many of your predecessors. It should be. It is the greatest shame in the history of the church and you aren’t doing nearly enough to fix it. You likely think you’re protecting the church. I assure you, you are not. The bombshells this year just out of Pennsylvania shook the faith of millions of Catholics around the world, and that was just one state. We all know there are more coming.
The question is: will those future revelations be discovered or outed by you? If they are discovered by authorities and not exposed by the Vatican, no amount of cooperation after the fact will undo the damage the church will rightly incur. Pews will continue to empty and I can’t say I’d blame them.
I get that your position requires you to speak out against immoral and unjust issues around the world. But it’s your relative silence and lack of leadership on the immorality and injustice in our house that has so many of us turning a deaf ear toward Rome lately. It’s time to thoroughly clean house, to do what’s right once and for all. It’s gonna hurt, it’s gonna be embarrassing, and it’s going to cost some of that horded treasure. So what? If the Catholic Church can’t survive an honest reckoning with its shortcomings and failures, maybe it doesn’t deserve to.
I’m no theologian, but I can’t imagine it’s God’s will to avoid shame and responsibility at the expense of victims of predator priests in order to protect some paintings, gold artifacts, land, and your job.
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