Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Mascot of the Month: Pope Francis

I know that a selection of Pope Francis as Mascot of the Month may see odd for many, given that I am an atheist.  But Pope Francis epitomizes the positive aspects of faith, humility and honor of God to me.
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Atheist or no, I was raised with a Christian moral code - and the true beauty of religion is the belief in kindness, charity and forgiveness.  When one works to better the lives of the less privileged, to me that is more Christian than condemning everyone you disagree with - over and over and over again while ignoring those less fortunate.
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Pope Francis is not be changing the basic tenants of the faith - that isn't his job for goodness sake  He is the Pope!  But he is focussing the church towards what the stated mission is, which is to help people in this life (spiritually, emotionally and physically) while preparing them for a life in the Kingdom of Heaven.
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For the few of you Catholics (and other Christians) that don't understand why "questioning people" so love Pope Francis, I will boil it down to something very basic.  For the world outside of the church, he has refocused the dynamic of Catholicism from hating non-believers to loving believers and supporting acts of mercy.  And for many of us non-religious people, this is a revelation.
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All we (the "questioning people") have seen from the Catholic Hierarchy (and most Evangelical Hierarchies) is the hate directed towards us.
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Whether the "us" is atheists, feminists, Muslims, gays, divorced people, black people, illegal immigrants, gun-background-check supporters, separation of  church & state folks, people who voted for Barack Obama, people who believe in health care, people who drive Priuses, people who support off-shore oil drilling, people who don't support off-shore oil drilling, people who are the wrong kind of Christians..... let's face it, Cardinals and Bishops (and Televangelists) hate a lot of "us".  And many of them are very vocal about it.  If they lead by loving each other - instead of being united only in their hatred of "us", well then non-believers would be more appreciative.
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I want to stress I am referring to Religious Hierarchies - not the people in churches and not all churches.  The best religious people, by and large, honestly do live the Lord's instructions to "love thy neighbor as thyself".  People building homes in Guatemala, schools in Africa, bringing help to Azerbaijan; these are almost always religious people.  And by showing love, they encourage us non-believers to do the same.  I sponsor a child through World Vision - a religious charity, because they do good, bring hope and education to the poor.  You don't have to believe in God to do that.  And Pope Francis, well he reminds people of all the good for others that we can do in our lives - Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist or even Atheist.
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I think we too are the people who, on the one hand, want to listen to Jesus, but on the other hand, at times, like to find a stick to beat others with, to condemn others. And Jesus has this message for us: mercy. I think — and I say it with humility — that this is the Lord's most powerful message: mercy. 

— Homily on March 17, 2013

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