Monday, September 22, 2014

Wow. Pope Francis Stands for Religious Freedom

Francis has this messaging thing down pat, don't you think?

I'm a fallen-away Catholic, as in don't-believe-a-word-of-it-anymore, but I like good popes and don't like bad popes. God's Rottweiler, Benedict XVI, didn't do it for me. From the minute Pope Francis took the stage, he's been uniformly delightful and reassuring.

He rides around in a Ford Focus, for Christ's sake.

He really won me over with his "Whom am I to judge?" comment on gay priests. That was a start toward reconciliation and inclusion. This past weekend in Albania, however, Francis really broke new ground with this (thanks, ThinkProgress):
Let no one consider themselves to be the "armor" of God while planning and carrying out acts of violence and oppression! May no one use religion as a pretext for actions against human dignity and against the fundamental rights of every man and woman, above all, the right to life and the right of everyone to religious freedom!
Beyond the clear message against violence, did he just say "right to religious freedom?" I think he did. He's already telegraphed that there is more than one way to get to heaven. That's already a blow against orthodoxy. But to out and out say there's a right to religious freedom, alongside the right to life, well, wow. Yes, his main thrust was against the hyper-violent religiosity of ISIS, but to wrap his stand in religious freedom is, again, very welcome in a world that keeps drawing lines. Francis is sweeping them away, and that's good guidance to his billion-plus flock.

Nice going. I'm not following you to heaven, Francis, but I'd hitch a ride in your Focus here on Earth.

Not kidding about the Ford Focus.

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