9/30/2015—Did Pope Francis do his job? Well, that depends on what you think his job is. I would give him only a C+. He and I would agree that his job is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
So, why only a C+? The Pope made many of us feel better, much better, inspired by his humility and love. But did the Pope make it clear that the source of his character is Jesus Christ? Maybe he did in visiting the homeless and prisoners, as Jesus often did. But I heard one person at the prison say that the visit showed the Pope to be a “man of the people”. Jesus did not enter into it.
And, anyway, making people feel better is ambiguous in terms of Jesus. Sure, Jesus made the poor feel better. But many people found him to be a pain in the ass. If Jesus had spoken in Rome, he would not have made the people of Rome feel better. Well, wasn’t the Pope speaking in today’s Rome?
Here are two groups I believe the Pope should have been aiming at and did not reach. First, there are those conservative Protestants. Ruth Ann Dailey, one of this group, wrote a column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently criticizing the Pope’s message on issues like immigration and poverty. Many of the members of the Tea Party are quite religious. But I don’t believe the Pope succeeded in suggesting that the Gospel they purport to follow is inconsistent with their policy proposals.
The second group is liberal nonbelievers. Many in this group admire the Pope. But did the Pope succeed in showing this group that concern for the poor and for immigrants and for the unborn are linked? Did he show them that they are practicing a form of violence in abortion? I don’t mean people would have changed their minds. I mean only that the Pope did not press issues or approaches that would shock people. He did not introduce the strangeness of the Gospel.