“Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?” (King Henry II)
At least the disagreement between King Henry II and The Archbishop of Canterbury was over matters having to do with the church. Pope Francis is so busy righting the wrongs with capitalism, foreign policy and the environment that he hasn’t found the time to comment on matters of faith.
Jesus unleashed Christianity on the world when He charged Peter with the authority to build His church. It didn’t include any reference to a government program. It was as simple as leading others to Him. “No one approaches the Father but through me.”
Apostles, such as Paul, took that message as far as their travels and writings could reach. As the message spread the flock increased.
Pope Francis exchanges gifts with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas during an audience at the Vatican Saturday, May 16, 2015. (Alberto Pizzoli/Pool Photo via AP)
That remains the principal role of leaders of any great religion. They are placed in their exalted position by peers who reward their wisdom and spirituality. The Pope is unique in that he follows a lineage that can be identified, by name, since Peter.
The quickest way to lose one’s following is to dilute the spiritual message with temporal distractions. Many leaders of large denominations have felt compelled to become relevant by speaking out on current political issues. Their flock has declined in number in direct correspondence to their increased political relevance.
Last week Pope Francis apologized to Latin America for 500 years of Catholic proselytizing. Then, having rejected his primary role, he undertook a critique of capitalism, the economic system that has done more to improve the lot of humans across the globe than any other.
Warming to the theme, he elegantly called the unfettered pursuit of money “the dung of the devil” and said poor countries should not be reduced to being providers of raw material and cheap labor for developed countries.
He ignored the fact that providing resources and cheap labor for developed countries is what elevates poor nations to richer nations.
Africa was once a desolate continent. In the last three decades, while providing resources and labor for developed countries, its middle class has grown to nearly 350 million people. They have done it, not in spite of capitalism, but because of it.
Those African nations that remain destitute are trapped in tyrannical rule totally unburdened by capitalism. Also lacking are jobs and opportunity.
Last month the pope issued a Papal Encyclical on the environment stating; “A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system.”
The earth has warmed and cooled continuously for the past 4.5 billion years. There is little argument about the 1.4 degree F warming over the last 100 years, but it was even warmer 1,000 years ago.
We can now compare the predictions of the 102 computer models that projected disturbing warming over the last 40 years with the actual temperatures. The consensus among the models is a failure.
On May 15 The University of Alabama’s John Christy presented to the House Committee on Natural Resources this graph comparing the projections of the computer models (red line) and the actual measured temperatures (blue and green lines).
Photo Credit: Congress
There has been no temperature change at all for half of the time since the last climate scare. Forty years ago the consensus was that we were facing disturbing cooling and needed urgent governmental action.
Curiously, scientists argued for reducing the use of carbon based fuels to stop cooling also. When will it begin to dawn on folks that the “consensus” is actually a political argument to stop us from enjoying cheap energy and will jump at any excuse to make its case?
Not content with just addressing capitalism and the environment, the pope wieghed in on a fair distribution of wealth.
He has also questioned whether a person who is engaged in the business of manufacturing weapons can be called a Christian.
Moving on to foreign policy, in June Pope Francis signed a “Treaty” between the Vatican and the “State of Palestine.” Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki called the treaty "a recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, freedom and dignity in an independent state of their own, free from the shackles of occupation."
Israel has for some years now been offering to sign a treaty with a state of Palestine also, but they require that Palestine recognize Israel’s right to exist. That seems to be a sticking point with the Palestinian Authority. It didn’t cause the pope to even blink.
One wonders if Vatican Foreign Minister Paul Gallagher glanced to the east during his negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Rather than seeing a Star in the East he might have noticed the modern-day crucifixions of Christians occurring daily in the land once called Holy.
I do not want King Henry’s wish for Becket to be visited on the pope. I do, though, pray that Pope Francis will find the time to author an encyclical addressing Islam’s existential threat to Christianity when he finishes reordering the secular governance of the globe.
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