Pope Francis’s lack of action during visit shows hypocrisy


Opinion Column: Waxing Philosophical


Laden with silver rings — gold being too rich for his taste — and a miniscule pope-mobile, Pope Francis is touring the Northeast United States, bearing a message of pseudo-Marxism and calls for reform, based in what appears to be the language of the left. So who is this white-robed Holy Roller? One characteristic seems certain, Francis is more for speaking rather than doing. Calling for an end to consumerism, immigration issues, destruction of the environment, poverty and wealth inequality, the Pope could almost be — based on what he says and what is advanced by the media — Bernie Sanders’ running mate. However, one ought to examine claims and motives before accepting an individual as exceptional, lest one fall for a wolf in pope’s clothing.

Proclaiming to the masses a message about change and reform is perhaps not a bad thing, but speaking as the Vicar of Christ on Earth, one would think Pope Francis would take more action to relieve the world’s woes, rather than merely expressing his concerns. One estimate has the Catholic Church’s Vatican Bank worth 7.3 billion dollars, a lengthy sum made up of hundreds of years of tithe collection. So, income equality? The Church may have some noble causes, but then again it seems hypocritical to hassle immoral CEOs when one’s own account is filled with a plethora of treasures. Should Pope Francis really find his principles compelling, why not begin dispersing some needed green among the more poverty stricken masses?

Now, it may be an absurd notion to act as the world’s ATM, but then why make the claim that wealth equality is important when one’s own bank account states otherwise? Pope Francis can say what he likes, but when the primary income for the Catholic Church comes from the pockets of the flock, it seems, shall I say, counter intuitive. Shakespeare’s character Leonato in Much Ado About Nothing once quipped in response to Antonio, “Patch griefs with proverbs.” Which lends some insightful meaning to the current Pope’s utterances. Maybe the Pope is sincere in his condemnations, but his decisive indecisiveness surely withers the listening ear.

One must also not forget that Francis still upholds the very conservative tenants of the Catholic Church. How one can be for equality, yet deny reproductive rights and abhor the use of condoms is beyond me. Homosexuality is also an area which Francis upholds Church bigotry, an area which one would think necessary in any claims of advancement or egalitarian notions. Despite statements in support of “integrating” homosexuals, failure to take action is still a choice. Again, one must beg the question, why the focus on purely financial and environmental causes while disregarding the other more pressing issues?

Motives, the great force behind any grand person may be at play here. The Catholic Church, although not in danger of collapsing anytime soon, has been in decline as far as the size of the flock and new incoming, hmm, sheep. Imagine, you are the leader of the Church and you need to bolster your numbers to ensure your coffers remain full. How do you do this? Easy, recruit the masses that are suffering the effects of global capitalism at large. Share a message of hope and equality — some equality, like more in the realm of Orwell’s Animal Farm — and watch the people renew their faith. Instead of bolstering numbers, as is the apparent strategy, Pope Francis ought to be dealing with issues well-known and dealing with intent I might add. Recruiting from the lower echelons of society — giving people a false sense of hope, does nothing to alleviate the woes currently prevailing.

A man of faith I am not, and it could be the case that I have dealt a harsh verdict upon his holiness, but no matter the person I believe that the sincerity of words are only proven by actions. Sure, one may dine with the homeless or clean the feet of the destitute, but such gestures are mere bandages upon bleeding wounds. In the Gospel of Matthew, it is said that Jesus fed the masses by means of a miracle, multiplying five loaves and two fish into more than a meager dish. I do not feel foolish in saying that the Catholic Church has more than a few loaves and fish laying around. On the one hand, the Pope is not Superman, but on the other hand, he has privileged access to wealth and nations. If he truly is the Vicar of Christ and has sympathy with those in poverty and distraught existences, then he ought to be doing much more than following party lines and whispering sweet nothings.

Jonathan Finnerty is a School of Arts Sciences junior majoring in classics and philosophy. His column, "Waxing Philosophical," runs on alternate Friday's.


Jonathan Finnerty

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