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Michael Gerson: The Pope Francis Moment

September 29th, 2015, Promulgated by Mike

Pope Francis is a pope of many “firsts”: the first Jesuit, the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, and the first non-European since the Byzantine Empire. Like the earlier Saint of Assisi, Francis leads by serving “the least of these.”

Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson is an Evangelical Christian. This past spring he gave a brief talk describing the pope as a bridge between the theological left and right. Hear what he thinks every Christian can learn from Pope Francis’ Christ-like humility.

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10 Responses to “Michael Gerson: The Pope Francis Moment”

  1. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    That’s a nice, fluffy narrative if you’re of the “perception is reality” mindset, but it has no real substance. I’m willing to go along with this narrative amongst friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc who could use some motivation for looking into Catholicism. However, it simply isn’t reality to pretend that the good aspects of Catholicism which Pope Francis is bringing attention to (which we all ought to cheer) were not properly understood or attended to prior to his pontificate. The only difference in Pope Francis’ success (and Pope Benedict’s failure) in gaining support from “the world” is the positive spin of the proxy (the MSM). It just goes to show how much power the MSM has in the modern world (perhaps even more so than the technocratic financial powers-that-be). It’s a sick circle that many Catholics are being trapped into – the desire of a positive spin by the MSM. This is no knock on Pope Francis, but I think more astute Catholics ought to recognize it and realize that the Catholic faith is about much more than pleasing the MSM.

  2. avatar Diane Harris says:

    We can’t know now. It’s not about feeling good, or not. We have to wait to see the fruit. Let’s check back in about 3 years to get a better view of what kind of fruit this past week will yield.

  3. avatar II Cor 2.11 says:

    I have had several conversations with NON-Catholics who are annoyed with Pope Francis because he did not speak about Jesus Christ in his speeches to Congress and the UN. By way of being an apologist, I have referred them to ACTS 17 where St Paul goes to the public square to speak to the oh-so curious and “religious” Athenians. He – Paul – stresses the Creator, the creation and the creatures when he speaks to them. At the start of Chapter 17, in stark contrast, Paul has gone to the synagogue of the Jews to speak about Christ and his passion, death and resurrection. In the one case, Paul is the herald of the kingdom of God and in the other case he is the apostolic preacher to Gentiles.

  4. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    I telephoned an anti-roman catholic evangelical ( who ironically planted good Augustinian and Thomistic seed in the soil of my heart 35 years ago) and asked if Pope Francis’ visit to the USA gave him warm fuzzies. His reply was that Pope Francis never mentioned Jesus at the UN or at the U.S. Congress and any Evangelical Lutheran Pastor would have mentioned the name of Jesus.

    Alas, another example of someone being disappointed he did not hear or did not see what he hoped or expected the Pope should say or do. ( BTW, there are a number of things I wanted to have the Pope say or do which he didn’t, but I did get some warm fuzzier because it was the successor to Peter, the Vicar of Christ, the Servant of the Servants of God who was in our midst. Therefore this Pope’s words and this Pope’s actions did convey to me in this time and place what Christ our God wanted to convey to us; or didn’t he?)

    “Nice, fluffy narrative of the perception is reality mindset”
    Hardly
    “Catholic social teaching stands in judgment of both Left and Right Political Ideologies

    The Pope is so relentlessly anti-clerical

    The Pope is deadly serious in his critique of ecclesiastical moralism

    The proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives

    People are more important than ethics

    People are more important than ethics and religion

    True religion is an affair of the heart ( in contrast to ecclesiastical moralism of which Jesus was a critic)

    Jesus’s whole ministry was a contrast to ethical religion without love and therefore he and his message are an offense to religious legalism and legalists

    When the Church becomes ossified, rigid and hypocritical, as all institutions do, Radical reformers carry Christianity’s most authentic tradition

    Francis is calling Christians to the most profound insight of our faith, a radical personalism, the priority of the person. In every way that matters to God, every person is completely equal and completely loved. They cannot be reduced to an object lesson. Their dignity is greater than their failures. They are more important than any cause. They are the cause.

    Pope Francis is a model of social engagement because he is acting like Jesus. When people see this Gospel image of Jesus reflected in another it appeals across every distinction, across every boundary. It stirs the deepest longing of the human heart. When the representatives of Jesus act like Jesus, true authority and influence returns.

    The church is a love story”

    Those quotes do not reflect a nice, fluffy, perception is reality mindset. Whether one agrees with Gerson or not, those are statements worthy of deep reflection.

    And for the record, my anti-catholic evangelical friend says that I am the most rigid dogmatist he has ever met.
    Could Pope Francis be speaking to me?

    No reflection on Pope Francis, Gerson or my anti- catholic friend, but it was beloved Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, whose teachings excited my mind and heart the most for Jesus’ sake!

  5. avatar Diane Harris says:

    I will just pick two things for comment:

    1. “Jesus’s whole ministry was a contrast to ethical religion without love and therefore he and his message are an offense to religious legalism and legalists.” Disagree. Jesus came within the context and preparation by the Jewish religion. He attended Synagogue and Temple. He celebrated the Feast Days. He quoted Scripture. But he held to account the chief priests, Pharisees, Scribes, Sadducees and elders who twisted religion for their own purposes and closed their hearts to Christ. It was NOT a denial of the Faith which God had instituted, but of its perversion into serving those elders and their agendae, instead of God. Christ even told the people to obey those on the chair of Moses — to do what they say but not what they do.

    2) “The proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives. … People are more important than ethics and religion.” These statements contain partial truths; but partial truths are not truth. The ‘most important’ is the Greatest Commandment — to love the Lord Our God with our whole mind, heart, soul and strength. If that is “religion”, then religion trumps. (Depends who defines religion, and what that definition is.) SECOND to the Greatest Commandment is the command to love our neighbor as ourselves. But it is SECOND. And it naturally flows out of the worship of God. It doesn’t work in the opposite direction because then it look and smells suspiciously like an entry in the old dispute — works can’t replace faith, but faith can’t exist without manifesting in works.

  6. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    I’m sorry, Dominick, but behind all those words I hear the same thing I hear from liberal priests around here, “this Pope is a breath of fresh air”, “finally, a Pope that gets it”, etc, etc. I’m not one to judge or critique everything Pope Francis does, but I’m not one to pretend that Pope Francis has rediscovered something that was lost. The beauty of the Catholic faith has been here all along for anyone wanting to discover it. If Pope Francis helps others discover it, then I certainly applaud him.

  7. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Ben, Perhaps my problem is as my poker playing psychologist son describes as an inability to “read” people and an inability to perceive social “cues”. My regrets yet I do not “hear” in Gerson’s words that baloney about breath of fresh air and a Pope who finally gets it. I hear an emphasis on imaging an aspect of Jesus Christ as portrayed in the Gospels. The breath of fresh air and a pope who finally gets it crowd are those who have rejected and continue to reject the teaching Church.

    Discovered something lost? No, I do not think so. Live and teach as the Pope believes Christ Our God is calling him to live and teach? Yes; what else could it be? And yes the beauty, goodness and truth of the Catholic Faith in the Son of God has been revealed, lived, proclaimed and passed on all along. Pope Francis’ particular ways of living, modeling and proclaiming seems to be getting lots of attention. If all of this attention is based on the misperception he is changing divinely revealed truth then our problem is with that perception, not with Pope Francis. ( although some unambiguous statements would be helpful)

    The real question is what fruit will Pope Francis’ visit bear here in the lives of Americans and what fruit will his papacy worldwide bear?
    Let us pray for the conversion of sinners and the growth in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus which each of us desire and depend upon.

    Diane, as I had written earlier whether we agree or not with what Gerson said, what he said is worthy of our reflection. Your comment does just that! Your reflection is based on scriptural accounts. Thanks.
    So perhaps Gerson has missed the essence of what Pope Francis is modeling and teaching.

    I still wonder if in what ever it is the Pope is doing Christ Our God is conveying something particular to me; a weak and stumbling disciple who wants more than anything to be faithful and pleasing to the Lord Our God. Perhaps each of us can profit individually from reflecting on how Pope Francis’ papacy speaks to our personal need for more faithful discipleship.

    For Gerson the Evangelical; either for correct or incorrect reasons, Pope Francis is helping him focus on people for the love of God And for the love of neighbor. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Gerson seeks to be received into the Catholic Church of Christ united with the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis!

    Thank you both, beloved brother and sister for this worthwhile discussion.

  8. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    I do not “hear” in Gerson’s words that baloney about breath of fresh air and a Pope who finally gets it.

    I hate doing this with video because it is such a pain, but here are just a couple quick examples

    2:35 – “when Pope Francis was chosen… the Holy Spirit seemed to be on an extended vacation”
    5:01 – “when the Church becomes [bad]…” (again prior to Pope Francis)

    Also the line – “True religion is an affair of the heart”… is a good indicator of why religion is so emotional and shallow in 21st century America.

  9. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Ben, I surrender….


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