When I was 16 I won an essay competition on “Our Way to Peace” by suggesting Mankind heed the words of Jesus Christ. In the 63 years since that time my opinion remains unchanged. I am still convinced that Jesus of Nazareth laid out a road map to peace on earth, not just the path to Heaven.
But that doesn’t make me a “Christian” – at least not politically.
I could not stand to be in the same room with politicians – Catholic, Protestant, or whatever – who make a great show of their piety while neglecting their duty to the poor.
To me, they are the “whited sepulchers” that Jesus warned us about.
Now, the new head of the Roman Catholic Church, spiritual leader of more than a billion people, has called these hypocrites out. He reminded Catholics that followers of Jesus are obliged to seek out and succor the earth’s sufferers instead of spending their time judging and censuring other people.
Well, Pope Francis, I couldn’t have said it better myself.
If there’s one word that sums up the teachings of Jesus – after “love” – it’s “tolerance.”
In the world that He envisaged, we would cut one another some slack, not point fingers and castigate those we consider morally offensive.
I imagine that this new Pope is sending shock waves through America’s religious right. He has issued a wake-up call to people like Paul Ryan, who has had the temerity to use his Catholic background as justification for his draconian budget proposals.
But I doubt the pontiff’s message is resonating in Congress.
This Congress will go down in history as the most cold-hearted ever. Here’s how a writer named Samatha Paige Rosen describes the institution’s legacy in The Week today:
The 113th Congress has stuck it to the poor at pretty much every opportunity.
Ms. Rosen explains that Republicans who control the House have managed “to close in on enacting an overarching, radical agenda without control of the Senate or the presidency.”
It’s a merciless agenda. Food stamps, unemployment insurance, rental assistance vouchers, school lunches, early-childhood education, Social Security … no safety net program is to be spared.
Meanwhile, they protect the bloated Pentagon budget and reject any thought of taxing the rich to ease the suffering of the poor.
Many of the Congress members responsible for this cruel crusade are ardent churchgoers who trumpet their piety and inveigh against their wayward brethren. These are the standard bearers of organized religion in America, the moral guardians of a harsh Puritan tradition, the high priests of sanctity and righteousness, the protectors of convention, the stalwarts of propriety…
They shamelessly proclaim themselves to be the followers of Jesus, while pursuing the policies of the Pharisees whom He deplored.
Photo shows the Pope greeting a blind man and pausing to pat the man’s guide dog.