Pope Francis’ religious impact
Many people desired to dissect his every word to see where his political leanings might be, or what kind of action he may try to be influencing in our country. Some have tried to paint him as a political figure aligning with either the left or the right. He’s been criticized by both sides of the fence for saying or not saying certain things.
Conservatives were upset by Pope Francis’ lack of conversation about abortion and marriage, especially with recent events and current heated debates. Liberals, on the other hand, have become upset about his visit with Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who was arrested for refusing to issue a marriage license to a gay couple earlier this summer.
These kinds of complaints against Pope Francis arise, I believe, for two reasons: not understanding who Pope Francis is and having blinding pride.
As a conservative, I too was disappointed when Pope Francis did not outright mention abortion and gay marriage in his address to Congress on Sept. 24. I still felt challenged by his words, though, about the environment and caring for the poor because I know I can do better in those areas.
But it’s not “doing better” necessarily — such as making sure I recycle more or that I donate to charity more. While these practical things are important, Pope Francis is calling for growth in holiness too — that I have respect for creation as a part of God’s love and treat every human being with dignity and respect as if they were Jesus Christ. It’s not explicitly what he said to Congress, but Pope Francis is the Vicar of Christ. Knowing that, I can hear his message as a means to grow in holiness.
After discussing with friends the many speeches Francis gave, we saw his wisdom in his words and actions. Pope Francis came here to evangelize, to present the Gospel. He came to be a “pontifex” or “bridge,” a name given to the pope since he acts as a bridge between the world and the church. We discussed how he is acting as a gate for others to come closer to the church.
Perhaps speaking about abortion and marriage would not have been the best way to be the pontifex here in America. The world knows where the church stands in these issues. Rather, Pope Francis shows a side of the church some seem to have forgotten about, even devout Catholics.
The Gospel is neither conservative nor liberal. Therefore, Christians must be careful to not wholly identify as conservative or liberal. Christians are to conform themselves to the doctrine of the Gospel, not the doctrine of a political platform. The Gospel comes first, and what we should always strive to do is conform our laws to the Gospel. Pope Francis — as popes before him — has painted a whole picture of the Gospel and has called us to give our lives to it.