Pope Francis and the Problem with Truth
The reaction to Pope Francis meeting with Kim Davis says a lot about us.
I get the hero worship. Francis is a religious leader and that’s important to a lot of people. Spirituality, I think, is a part of what makes us human—I don’t have any issue with that until someone tries to impose their spirituality on someone else. Here in America, too, it’s simply refreshing to see a religious leader engaged in a meaningful way by urging action on issues that help people rather than focusing on who should be condemned and denied rights this week. And Francis really is a progressive Pope for the Catholic Church.
However, notice my word choice—progressive. Progressive. Not liberal. Progressive.
I know that here in America, where we’ve let the opposition turn “liberal” into a profanity, people tend to call themselves “progressives” but there’s a big difference between being progressive and being liberal. Despite a change in some attitudes and some focus (that has undoubtedly earned him a lot of dislike within the Catholic Church), Francis still maintains the status quo on a lot of positions that most of us would consider outdated and archaic.
And that’s really where our biggest problem lies. You see, as human beings we have this terrible habit of seeing one aspect of a person’s behavior we like or don’t like, then just deciding that carries over automatically to every other aspect of that person’s life. Unfortunately, that’s not how people are. That’s not how the world is. No one is all “this” and no “that.” Or put another way, no one is all “good” or “bad” (which is something else we tend to do—things we like are always “good”.)
This applies to everyone. A regular person could be loved at work and utterly despised at home. Or even vice-versa. Neither one rules out the truth of the other.
A lot of people saw Francis speaking on income equality and the need to assist the poor or urging politicians to act on the dire state of climate change, then just assume, “Well, then that means he agrees with me on everything else too.” So, when confronted by something like a meeting with Kim Davis, they’re disappointed and simply fall back to that either-or mentality, flipping the switch from good to bad, forgetting all the things they thought of as good.
Honestly, the situation isn’t that clear. Yes, the Pope still hasn’t declared homosexuality okay (if you look at what’s he actually said, not how he’s been paraphrased, it amounts to “Love the sinner, hate the sin”.) The other thing to keep in mind is that the Pope meets with a lot of people. Some of whom he probably met with for only a minute or two without knowing anything about them as they were ushered through. Others he met with for extended periods but the meeting doesn’t necessarily mean anything other than what is—a meeting. I mean, he met with Castro but that doesn’t mean he endorses Communism (I think Fox News called Francis a Marxist—as a Marxist myself, I will confirm the Pope is not a Marxist) or told him he did a good job running Cuba. He met with Mark Wahlberg but that doesn’t mean he likes his movies (though I imagine Marky Mark asked for forgiveness for the Vietnamese man he chased through the street and beat with a stick back in the day). Unfortunately, Kim Davis is probably going to say a lot of things about the meeting with no confirmation from the Vatican about what was discussed which just makes everything kind of more unknown. And we don't deal well with unknown.
What would be best for you is to decide what the meeting means to you when you look at everything you like/dislike/ or agree/disagree with when it comes to Francis and determine if it’s a deal-breaker or just a disappointment. Does that makes sense? I think that sort of mindset is more realistic. It's certainly more helpful, and I think generally saves us from a lot of trouble and suffering.
Unfortunately, the strong reaction also makes a huge problem with America’s political system clear. A big reason the American Left went nuts after Francis met with Kim Davis is because they had just been busy doing the same thing they usually condemn the Right for doing—using religious figures to justify, sway and shape public policy.