Pope Francis Is A Challenge To All Of Us

I’ve been watching over the last two weeks as Catholics in the United States from various points on the political and religious spectrum argue about who between Republicans and Democrats or conservatives and liberals have more to fear from Pope Francis. “Republicans have a Pope Francis Problem,” proclaimed one op-ed, prompting a blog post titled, “Who Has a Pope Francis Problem? Not only Republicans.” Comments to articles and posts along either lines yield heated debates about whose “Pope Francis Problem” is a bigger one, “progressive” or “conservative” Catholics; political liberals or conservatives.

I was reminded while reading such posts of a conversation I had with my then spiritual director before an election some years ago. I remarked that I was no longer comfortable calling myself either Democrat or Republican. Without a pause he replied, “That’s because you’re not Republican or Democrat. You’re Catholic.”

The discussion of which of Republicans or Democrats or which of “progressive” or “conservative” Catholics has a bigger “Pope Francis problem” is at best a silly one and at worse a convenient diversion from the real issue.

Pope Francis is a challenge to all of us in the United States. Very few of us are living the lives of radical simplicity, generosity, and prayer his life models. All (or at least most) of us consume far more than we need. All (or most) of us could be more generous to and concerned for the needs of the most vulnerable around us. All (or most) or us could spend more time deepening our relationship with God.

Pope Francis calls all of us to a deeper relationship to Christ. And he calls each of us to live lives that reflect that relationship. It would be far more beneficial for each of us to focus on the challenge the new pope offers to our own lives than to worry about whether someone else has a bigger “Pope Francis Problem” than we do.

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2 thoughts on “Pope Francis Is A Challenge To All Of Us

  1. Thank you for this post. I had shared (my friend) Charlie Camosy’s Washington Post op-ed, that you refer to here, and I have given the whole mess a lot of thought as late.

    I do agree with you however, these are distractions or worse, at a time when we might be better called to how we can all change.

    Only moments ago I was having a conversation with someone about Pope Francis and I noted that he will shock us all. Just like Jesus.

    And on my way to work, I listened to a story about pro-life politics,that made me wonder about so many things. If only we could bring the true fullness and richness of the teachings on life to the fore. I feel like a failure in this regard. By that, I would love to live in a world where hunger, poverty, isolation through economics, disenfranchisement, trafficking, war, the death penalty, and corporate malfeasance all garnered the same resources as the pro-life movement. That would truly be pro-life!

    We have much to ponder in our own hearts and concomitant actions about our “Jesus problem” if you ask me.

  2. Thank you Fran R S
    Jesus challenges us always – He was such a trouble maker for the church of His time – and why would we be surprised now that His elect will still be the source of challenges to the status quo.
    Jesus’ message of involvement with the common poor was hidden – along with many other things – until Jorge became Pope Francis 1.
    Perhaps a “heart problem” would another way to express anyone’s dismay at Pope Francis thus far…..Blessings, Bonnie

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