Why does America care what the Pope thinks?

posted in: Politics | 0

The Pope is in America this week and maybe it’s just the timing of when I tune my radio to the news, but I can’t seem to get anything that isn’t non-stop papal coverage. It’s like every station is now suddenly the Catholic Channel.  Every time I turn on Fox news or CNN all I get is live coverage of what the Pope is doing and saying as well as play-by-play analysis from the political pundits on both sides of the aisle, bickering back and forth about whether Pope Francis is supporting the Republicans or the Democrats. But why does America care what the Pope thinks anyway?

Did I miss the part where the United States as a whole converted to Roman Catholicism? Last I checked, only about 22% of my fellow Americans are Catholic. So why does a Roman Catholic mass in Washington DC or New York City or Philadelphia deserve live coverage of its every last detail down to the choral music?

‘Oh, the Pope is walking among the people now!’

‘Oh, the Pope is smiling now!’

‘Oh, the Pope just waved!’

Give me a break already.

I am not a Roman Catholic.

You could call me a Protestant.  I would just call myself a Christian, preferring not to define myself in relation to Roman Catholicism, but rather in relation to Jesus Christ.  I’m not accustomed to deference to or reverence for the clergy at any level of the Roman Catholic Church.

I have a book or two of Catholic history on my bookshelves, one on the lives of the popes.  Bits and pieces of research I did during high school and my early years of college are still with me from back when I debated with Catholic friends regarding the indispensability of all their popes and councils and tradition, but as a whole I’m not accustomed to really caring much about what the Catholic Church thinks or believes. And I definitely don’t have enough interest in Catholicism to warrant round-the-clock coverage of their leading figure on the TV or radio stations I typically listen to.

What else is happening now?

Really, is there nothing else going on in America or the world besides Pope Francis’ visit to America? Is whether the Pope blessed a boy in a wheelchair really the most important detail of current events our press corps can come up with to cover?  How newsworthy is an interview with the NYPD SWAT Team regarding security for the Pope’s visit to New York City?

I heard a faint glimmer this morning about the Chinese Premier visiting Obama at the White House in Washington DC, and I was somewhat surprised and gratified to hear that Obama had told the Chinese leader that in no uncertain terms would Chinese cyber espionage be tolerated in the future.  That seems like a pretty important story to cover, but how much time and attention has it gotten?

Were it not for the Drudge Report I would be unaware that Russia, Syria, and Iran set up military coordination in Baghdad, Iraq this week.  What are the long-term implications for that arrangement? Sure, it’s only supposed to be about fighting ISIS… For now.  What about after ISIS?

One story that did get out on the mainstream media news networks was that Speaker of the House John Boehner, Congressman from Ohio will be resigning his Speakership as well as his congressional seat at the end of October. Then again, perhaps the only reason that story made headlines was because everyone is speculating whether Boehner’s decision to resign is related to the Pope’s historic visit to America and unprecedented appearance before Congress. John Boehner is, after all, a Roman Catholic.  So here again the mainstream media found a way to cover Pope Francis non-stop.

Who is Pope Francis?

The little I’ve gathered regarding Pope Francis – who again, if I haven’t mentioned yet, holds very little interest for me – leads me to believe he is a humble man.  I hear he has socialist leanings which conservatives and lovers of liberty would do well to be wary of, but which Cuba’s Castro brothers, Progressive Democrats, and President Obama are probably giddy about.

Apparently one of Pope Francis’ principal concerns is global climate change, or global climate disruption, also formerly known as global warming.

A pet peeve of his is that capitalism is “the dung of the Devil,” which is probably about the strongest language a Pope is allowed to use to describe a thing he detests.

An offhand remark he made a few months ago lambasted the manufacturers and sellers of firearms as unchristian because, well, guns hurt and kill people and are apparently only purchased by bad guys to hurt good, innocent people.

One headline stated plainly that the main reason for Pope Francis’ visit to America is the ongoing abortion debate, but his dealing with that issue had little to no effect on the Senate, which hours after his address to them voted down a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, America’s single largest provider of abortions.

In his address to Congress, Pope Francis referred to traditional family values being under assault in America.

In short, Pope Francis is a socialist.  He’s for wealth redistribution.  He’s very serious about combating global climate change as though it were primarily driven by the activities of mankind.  Pope Francis hates capitalism.  He’s anti-gun.  Yet he’s also pro-life and opposed to same-sex marriage.  So it follows naturally that political pundits on the right and the left are bickering over whether this Pope sides with one of them or the other.

But besides Roman Catholics, who cares what the Pope thinks?

As a Christian myself, I don’t look to any man, Catholic or Protestant, as a final authority on issues of this life or the next.  God is the final authority, and we have His Word – the Bible.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17

Sorry, not sorry. Pope Francis, I don’t need you as an intermediary between the Lord God Almighty and me.

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Hebrews 4:14-16

So I am puzzled when I see photographs and video clips of the Pope visiting America because I see in them innumerable masses of my fellow Americans weeping and jubilant and ecstatic as if God himself in the flesh were visiting them, and so they are hanging on his every word and gesture as if their temporal and eternal fate depended on them.  But it doesn’t!  Pope Francis is not God incarnate.

Again, why does America care what the Pope thinks?

Why should we care if the Pope believes in a carbon tax or not?

What does it matter whether the Pope’s position on evolution says it is compatible or not with the creation account in Genesis?

What do we care if the Pope is for or against capitalism?

The Pope is just a man, and as such he is fallible, biased, and susceptible to error like the rest of us.  Regardless of whether this man’s position on this or that issue does reflect an “evolution” of the Roman Catholic teaching or doctrine, Yahweh God Almighty’s character, nature, and truth have not changed and will not change.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Hebrews 13:8

Now it’s time to move on to more pressing news.

Follow Garrett Mullet:

Christian, husband to a darling wife, and father to seven children - I enjoy pipe-smoking, playing strategy games on my computer, listening to audio books, and writing. When I'm not asking you questions out loud, I'm endlessly asking myself silent questions in my head. I believe in God's grace, hard work, love, patience, contemplation, and courage.