Tag Archives: pope Francis

An Empty Gesture?

Couldn’t one say the same about everything the Pope says and does? In the news we learn that Pope Francis Takes 12 Refugees Back to Vatican After Trip to Greece. Twelve Syrian Muslim refugees, three families with six children,  all back to Rome with him on the Papal plane. The Vatican, the Pope said, would care for the three families. The Pope wanted to bring the world’s attention to the “grave humanitarian crisis” and plead himself for a resolution.


This Pope is called the “People’s Pope,” as opposed to his predecessor, Benedict XVI, the German Pope whose very distance from the people is probably what most of all brought about his early retirement.

But is that the very best the Pope could do? Give another life to three Syrian refugee families in Vatican land? Why anyone could have done that. I could have done it, although not in Vatican land but in Tampa, Florida where I live, but my gesture, not backed up by the Vatican’s wealth, would have been an even emptier gesture than the Pope’s.

Isn’t the Pope a powerful man, the leader of some 2 billion members of the Catholic Church? Couldn’t he have asked that his flock follow his lead. And in fact, did anyone follow? Countries , individuals, NGOs already there on the ground, not to mention the wealthy multinational corporations, those that Bernie Sanders tells us are exploiting the wealth of the world for their own ends and purposes, did anyone at all step up to the plate? as a follow-up to the Pope’s trip to Lesbos?

As far as I know no one did. The developed world could have taken in hundreds of thousands of the refugées and paid for it in any number of ways, say by just stopping all of their futile hot war activities for a week or two. The world is rich, the refugées need the world’s help, and the best the world can do is to send the Pope? “Send” because isn’t the Pope only doing what he thinks the world expects of him? Without being assured of the favorable publicity would he have even gone to Lesbos, or on past occasions South America, or Africa, these trips also being at the time empty gestures by the church’s leader, in particular the head of the church of Christ, whose single most important message has to be extending a helping hand to those in need.

So the Pope’s going to Lesbos, and even flying back to the Vatican with the three families, was all an empty gesture?  What might the Pope have done instead? Well, for one, organize an air lift. I’m sure the Vatican is rich enough to do that.That would have certainly changed people’s minds as well as their hearts, and perhaps even slowed the decline and deterioration in relevance of the Catholic Church. And the Pope could have done this without putting himself or his reputation at any risk.


But there are any number of things he could have done. By his words, and actions, strengthen the position of Angela Merkel who is in a political life and death struggle in her own country while trying to do the “christian thing” herself, and provide refuge for not just three families but for one million or more refugees, that making what, 300,000 families, and at least as many children? Are the Pope’s means to make a real difference in this situation any less than those of the German Chancellor?

Sure there might have been any number of things, other than his empty gesture. The Vatican is the sole owner of over 100 acres of prime real estate in the heart of Rome, and therefore Europe. And I assume that within the Vatican there are an endless number of priceless treasures, and probably even more wealth in offshore (not in the Vatican) bank accounts.

For there is no lack of means to help the situation on Lesbos and elsewhere. And the Pope must know that during the present situation Europe itself is struggling to remain Europe, and remain together while confronting the arrival on its shores of millions of refugees, from Syria, but also from Iraq and Afghanistan. The Pope took three Syrian families onto his own plane. Is that really all, the very the best he could do?

Continue reading An Empty Gesture?

Just a few of the issues that divide us, Part Two

  • Third on my issue list is the loss of jobs, often as the result of the closing of job rich mills and factories. This is happening not just in the United States but also and with devastating results in Europe.  Here taken from the Times is an example of what is happening:

    REDCAR, England , a small town on the North Sea famous for a century-old mill that produced the steel for some of the world’s  iconic bridges, — for the Sydney Harbor Bridge in Australia, the Victoria Falls Bridge in Zambia as well as for 1 World Trade Center in New York, was recently shattered by the news that the plant is about to shut forever, taking 2,200 jobs with it. The upheavals of what is rapidly becoming postindustrial Britain were recently on display at O’Grady’s, a local pub, as steelworkers shared their sorrow just a few feet away from a businessman who sells cheap Chinese steel to the British government, something many in Redcar complain about.
    “Everyone’s going crackers,” said Conrad McCormick, 38, a married father of two who lost his job at the mill, The only thing I’m sure of in my life right now is this,” he said, holding up a pint of beer.
 Across the pub, also pint in hand, stood Jim, a 61-year-old businessman who declined to give his surname. Jim said his midsize company was doing well selling Chinese and other foreign steel to the government to build railways, wind farms and public buildings.

  • In fourth place on my list there’s God and religion, and with the world travels of Pope Francis, most recently to the United States, there are the more and more visible struggles of  the Catholic church to remain relevant.  At the Synod on the Family (three weeks between October 4 and 24) some 270 bishops of all stripes from fervent reactionaries to tolerant progressives, are meeting right now at the Vatican.
    So there are those for accepting change. Not all of the 270 bishops are reactionaries. This Pope is probably more liberal, more progressive than his predecessors and a good number of the bishops at the Synod and would probably, if he could, accept back into the church gays and lesbians, the divorced and remarried, and perhaps even those who have had an abortion. Evidently he’s not yet able to do that, but he must sense that it’s coming if the Catholic Church would remain a force for good in people’s lives.
    And there are those who would keep things as they are, the reactionaries, or as they would like to be called the traditionalists, who maintain that marriage is “indissoluble” and homosexuality is “intrinsically disordered.”
    Among their number is Cardinal Robert Sarah from Guinea who leads the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship, and who told the Synod,

“What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual, abortion ideologies, and Islamic fanaticism are today.”

John Adams once wrote, “It was never pretended that any persons employed in [drafting the founding documents] had interviews with the gods or were in any degree under the inspiration of heaven.” Ours was a government “founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretense of miracle or mystery.” … Evangelical Christians and Mormons are often at odds, but at some point they united in the belief that the Founders had acted as scribes for divine revelation. And there are those who continue to believe that angels bearing the word of God had been at the Constitutional Convention.



The Left Hand Doesn’t Know What the Right Hand is Doing

In historic speech, Pope Francis focuses on dignity of human life

By Tracy Jan and Lisa Wangsness
SEPTEMBER 24, 2015

Pope addr

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis, speaking to the Congress on Thursday, challenged lawmakers to use their power to protect the world’s most vulnerable people, … Invoking the golden rule he said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
The pontiff urged the United States to open its arms to refugees fleeing strife, as well as to those seeking to cross borders for better economic opportunity….”Americans, he said, should not be “fearful of foreigners.”
“In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities.”
Francis said. “The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.”
And of the family he could not hide his concern. “The family is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family….’
And finally, he said, “we need to prevent violent conflict, hatred, and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion. [For] No one religion is immune to fundamentalism and everyone must be attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind.”




Hajj stampede near Mecca leaves more than 700 dead

By Ben Hubbard

SEPTEMBER 25, 2015


(Saudi emergency workers lined up the bodies of some of those who died in a stampede during their Hajj pilgrimage.)

BEIRUT — In streaming ribbons of white, great masses of Muslim pilgrims made their way between cities of air-conditioned tents toward the next stop on their holy tour of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Then something went disastrously wrong, trapping the crowds in narrow streets, touching off a mass panic and crushing stampede that left the asphalt covered with lost sandals, crumpled wheelchairs, and piles of white-robed bodies.
It was the deadliest accident during the hajj pilgrimage in a quarter-century, with at least 717 pilgrims from around the world killed and more than 860 injured. And it posed yet another challenge for the country’s new leader, King Salman, who is already facing low oil prices, a war in Yemen, and an increasingly fierce rivalry with Iran.
Khalid Saleh, a Saudi government employee who rushed to the site when he heard screams and sirens, said he had found “huge numbers of people on the ground either dying or injured.”
Major General Mansour al-Turki, a spokesman for the Saudi Interior Ministry, told reporters that large groups of pilgrims had run into each other and started shoving, causing the stampede, which was exacerbated by heat and fatigue.



Again change happens and it's the people, not those in charge, who make it happen.

The two men in the picture probably had a lot to do with the vote in Ireland. I find them more convincing that the tired words and language of the Pope.

Charles McQuillan/Getty Images
Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

What, I wonder, is Pope Francis thinking about right now following the referendum in Ireland of May 22, when Ireland became the very first of the world’s nations to approve same sex marriage by popular vote?

Change has to be on his mind. For what happened in Ireland was that the people, 1,201,607, or 62% of them, voted to make gay marriage legal.

 (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)
(Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Francis waving to well wishers after a mass in Tacloban, Philippines, on January 17, 2015.

I don’t know what the Pope is thinking about. I would hope that he is thinking about change. For he would do well to go along with change because it’s going to happen no matter what he does or says.

As to what he said, here are his own words regarding same sex unions while visiting in the Philippines, the most catholic country of Asia: (See Zach Noble’s article in The Blaze)

 “Same-sex unions threaten to disfigure God’s plan for creation,” Pope Francis said, while urging Filipinos to resist the “ideological colonization that threatens the family.”

Liberté, Égalité, et Fraternité