As Pope Francis and The President sat down to talk in the Oval Office, they waited as the press pool filed in and of course, as we are often the messiest as we jockey for position to get a photo or ask a question, the President told the members of the press assembled for the event that we were better behaved than we have been in the past.
Hopefully it is something we remember of the Pope’s visit -manners.
Having a Pope visit the U.S. is not a daily occurrence and the visit by Pope Francis is something anxiously anticipated by many Catholics.
I am not one of them.
Don’t get me wrong. I found inspiration in the opening remarks of the Pope as he spoke about immigrant families building our country and spoke about “building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive.” The subtle reminder of the hypocrisy of those who want to exclude Muslims, Jews and even Catholics from the national agenda was not lost on me. Nor was the subtle reference to refugees and immigrants.
The Pope spoke about climate change, taking care of our “common home” and by referring to the words of the Reverend Martin Luther King he reminded us all of how far we’ve come and how far we need to go.
His reference to the poor and the downtrodden were particularly poignant as he pointed out the critical time we occupy in history and how we can still make a difference by helping out those in need.
It comes as a breath of fresh air. Without using negative language at all the Pope delivered an uplifting message while at the same time pointing out where we’ve failed and how.
Deftly done. His trip to Congress reminds some Catholics of Jesus and the Pharisees. Of particular interest is how the Pharisees failed to preach mercy and compassion and pretended to be righteous when they were not.
Yep. It all seems to fit.
Still I am not the guy.
Even as President Obama made a gift of a key from the Maryland home of Elizabeth Ann Seton to the Pope I could not help but think of appearance vs. reality.
As they preached peace I saw the naysayers on television and the so-called pundits punching holes in the Holy Father’s arrival.
Calling him a Marxist and anti-capitalist completely misses the point, and while I give him points for showing up on our soil, I don’t want to see him in Congress. I don’t wish to see him among the crowds.
Crowds are horrible things. Any intelligence of the individual is washed away by the maddening lack of sanity in a crowd.
No. I’m selfish and as a man raised in the Catholic church, a former altar boy and someone who is sick of the hypocrisy of the faith I want a one-on-one with this Pope.
I want to ask him about pedophiles, priests marrying, the secrets of the Vatican Library, social inequality in the Catholic faith, the status of nuns and priests, the abuses of the church and its questionable economics.
I want to talk about the hypocrisy of preaching peace while spouting hate.
I want to let him know about a CCD teacher who condemned my young son to Hell because he dropped a Bible, why a Priest once told me I was condemned to Hell and my wife could be branded as a whore because we didn’t marry in the Catholic Church. (She’s Christian but not Catholic.)
I want to know why some Catholics believe they’re being discriminated against because they’re not free to force others to believe as they do. I want to know what the church plans to do about the many bishops who are more interested in power than their faith.
I know I will never get the chance to speak with Pope Francis in such a manner.
I see no faith worse or better than my own. I see no life choice that causes me no harm as a threat to my faith or my way of life. I’m the guy who laughs as politicians urge the Pope to stay out of political matters while they wade up to their eyebrows in matters of faith.
I find humor in most faiths and believe the best religions can do is build a strong community but the worst they do is divide humanity.
There’s nothing funnier to me than the Pope visiting Congress.
There’s nothing sadder than knowing that for all the good he intends, I’m equally sure it will fall on deaf ears among those elected to office, the Catholic Church will only change when forced to and the glacial movement toward inclusion probably will not be accomplished in my lifetime.
But, I confess, I naively cling to hope.