Tales of a Perplexing Pope

=========
=========
Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
=========
=========

Pope Francis is the leader of an estimated 1.2 billion Roman Catholics worldwide.  He has been described with many monikers among them the “Confounding Pope” and the “Energizer Bunny Pope,” the former for some of the views expressed and the latter for his many travels.  This January, he is finishing up a trip to Panama for World Youth Day.  In February, he will travel to the United Arab Emirates followed by a March trip to Morocco.  According to Crux, an online magazine dedicated to Catholic news, “he’ll have a jam-packed papal itinerary that will focus heavily on dialogue with the Islamic world.”

These trips to Muslim countries- he’s visited Bangladesh, Egypt, Turkey and several Muslim African countries- have left Muslims who have converted to Catholicism quite perplexed and Christians (not just Catholics) persecuted by Muslims even more perplexed.  In fact, Crux reported that a group of Algerian and French converts began an online petition suggesting that Pope Francis “reconsider his conciliatory attitude towards Islam.”  As they point out quite succinctly: “If Islam is a good religion in itself, as you continue to teach, then why did we become Catholic?”

Certainly, popes pre-1964 would have found this outreach to the Muslim world equally perplexing also.  In that year, there was the first mention of outreach to Muslims because they were a monotheistic religion.  That alone was the motivation for a few paragraphs inserted into a Papal declaration.  In a Papal commission under Pope John XXIII, there was some mention of this outreach, but it was being discarded.  However, when he was succeeded by Pope Paul VI, the Islamophiles managed to get conciliatory wording into the papal document.

However, Pope Francis has taken that conciliatory language and placed it on steroids.  At times, he sounds more like a spokesman for CAIR than he does for the Catholic Church.  This writer has previously documented the apparent genocide of Christians in Nigeria, many of them Catholic.  Likewise, many Christian sects, including Catholic ones, have all but been wiped out in certain areas of the Middle East in the name of Allah.  In the Middle East from whence Christianity evolved, today Catholics account for 0.27% of the world’s Catholic population.  Only East Asian countries have a lower percentage of Catholics in their population than the Middle East.  That is the sad reality of the Pope’s outreach.

Pope Francis is of the ilk of liberals who often proclaim Islam “the religion of peace” despite demonstrable actions to the contrary.  Some of his pronouncements regarding a “proper reading of the Koran” have left even Islamic scholars scratching their heads at times.  Despite this sometimes critical commentary from Islamic scholars who, one presumes, know more about the Koran and Islam than does the Pope, he forges on with the liberal talking points.  In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in 2015, Pope Francis declared: “You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”  Well, sure you can because if the faith is strong enough, it withstands the provocations, insults, and poking of fun made without resorting to violence to defend that faith.  After all, Christianity (including Catholics) and Judaism is made the butt of numerous jokes, many of them offensive.  Yet, according to Pope Francis, Islam is off limits?

The theme of his upcoming visit to Morocco is “hope,” but hope in what?  The logo adopted is a blending of the cross and crescent.  We can expect more of what we heard from Pope Francis whenever he visited Muslim countries in the past- basically, do not look to Rome for help when you are persecuted at the hands of the Muslim majority.  Pope Francis is becoming perhaps the best propagandist for the Muslim world in these visits.

On the one continent where Christianity and Catholicism is showing the greatest declines- Europe (his very backyard)- he has found common cause with Muslim leaders.  He often dismisses the attempted revival of Christianity in traditionally Christian Europe.  Europe has liberalized and liberalization of the Catholic Church in Europe has failed to draw in new converts.  That fact and declining birth rates have decimated the Catholic Church in Europe.  Hence, it comes as no surprise that in 2016 a group of European liberal leaders awarded Pope Francis the Charlemagne Prize, not for honoring Charlemagne’s influence on Christian Europe, but for repudiating it.  When accepting the prize, he uttered these words which sound suspiciously like the lines from a bad country song: “I dream of a Europe where being a migrant is not a crime but a summons to greater commitment on behalf of the dignity of every human being.”

Once, when asked if Europe should return to its Christian roots, Pope Francis said: “States must be secular. Confessional states end badly. That goes against the grain of history.”  Really?  The very states to which he will travel and in which he grovels are, in fact, confessional states.  Apparently only Catholics worldwide are to reconcile themselves to secularism.  

Pope Francis once famously told a visiting group of Protestant pastors to the Vatican: “I don’t want to convert you.”  His message to the Islamic world is the same. However, there are some overlapping beliefs between Catholicism and Protestantism and precious few, if any, with Islam.  Pope Francis, instead of buttressing the message of Christianity, is instead engaging in a form of religious relativism.  Out of that comes less true religion and a proliferation of false ones.  Simply put, like any garden variety liberal, Pope Francis has fallen under the Svengali gaze of multiculturalism.  He is the perfect Pope for a secular, multicultural Europe.  How is that working out?

For centuries, the Catholic Church sent out missionaries to preach the Gospel and the word of Jesus Christ over other beliefs.  Today, Pope Francis trots the world preaching a message better left to a delegation from the United Nations or European Union rather than the leader of the Catholic Church and its 1.2 billion adherents.  Sadly, this outreach to Islam has jumped into the front seat and the many problems facing the Catholic Church (predatory priests among them) have taken a back seat.

Perhaps it is sincerity on his part, but such sincerity will not end well.  As Catholicism declines in Europe spurred on by low birth rates and the influx of Muslim immigrants (not counting those already there), he may soon find himself surrounded by non-believers in Christianity.  This naive outreach will not lead to a decrease in Islamic terrorism or a changing of their minds.  Once on a plane trip when asked about the Church’s attitude towards homosexuality, Pope Francis said: “Who am I to decide?”  He seems to be saying the same thing when it comes to Islam.  A reminder to Pope Francis- you are the leader of the Roman Catholic Church.  Before healing the world, perhaps he should concentrate on healing his own religion.

{DISCLAIMER:  This writer was baptized, raised in, confirmed, and practices within the Roman catholic faith.}