As a Catholic and a news junkie, I'd been keeping up with the goings on of the Church for a while. And the last several days have been exciting. Now that the Church has a new leader in Pope Francis (not Francis I, since there is no Francis II), we can sit back, relax and let things return to a sense of normalcy, right?
Ha ha ha.
Minutes after the election of the pope, media outlets went berserk that the cardinals DARED to name a Catholic to the papacy. I might be a little hyperbolic there, but it's incredible to me that people would expect the Catholic Church to pick someone who was Pro-Choice and all for gay marriage. No matter what your own personal belief is, it is almost insane to think that the Church would take a sudden reversal on these issues.
But, more than that, some of those who don't see eye to eye with the Catholic Church are already hard at work trying to make this pope out to be a villain, too. Check out the New York Times.
He has been less energetic, however, in urging the Argentine church to examine its own behavior during the 1970s, when the country was consumed by a conflict between right and left. In what became known as the Dirty War, as many as 30,000 people were disappeared, tortured or killed by a military dictatorship that seized power in March 1976.
What the NYT (or almost any other outlet I've come across yet) doesn't tell you is that the accusations are almost certainly false. <a title="CNN tells it like
it is." href="http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/14/world/pope-5-things/index.html" target="_blank">CNN goes head-to-head with the allegations.
Francis, in particular, was accused in a complaint of complicity in the 1976 kidnapping of two liberal Jesuit priests, [CNN Vatican analyst John] Allen wrote. Francis denied the charge.
"The best evidence that I know of that this was all a lie and a series of salacious attacks was that Amnesty International who investigated that said that was all untrue," said Jim Nicholson, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See. "These were unfair accusations of this fine priest."
Of course, the more extreme on the Left, whose voices are typically heard in tweets and Facebook posts, are a little less accepting of that. Shouts of murderer and (my personal favorite) fascist groupie can be found on Twitter. Listening to Erick Erickson's radio show yesterday provided me with a potential new job title when someone called in and called the new pope a "purveyor of fairy tales."
However, I am willing to bet, these very naysayers are the same ones who tell us that we cannot judge the president of the United States because of his past actions and acquaintances. "You have to respect him because he's the president!" doesn't translate over to religion, I guess.
But that's just the thing, isn't it? We can't talk bad about Obama, but we can jump on Pope Francis' case the second he's named to lead the Church?
I don't like Obama, but I respect the fact that he is the president. I respect the office just fine. I respect what it represents - it is the head of our country. The leadership of the nation I was born in and raised to like. So, even if there have been guys I don't like in that seat, what it still means to me is vastly important.
The same goes for the papacy. Yes, he is the most powerful man in the Catholic world, perhaps in the Christian world. There may have been unsavory men in the seat in the past (the Renaissance is a fascinating period of time in terms of the absolute worst the papacy had in its leadership) and maybe Benedict wasn't the best one in the modern era, but there is still the fact that you don't trash the religion or the seat of the pope because of one man.
Honestly, it's a point that shouldn't have to be made, but apparently, it needs to.