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Ed Ross Radio #81 Wars and Popes

POPE FRANCIS AND THE POWER OF THE PAPACY

Ed Ross | Monday, March 18, 2013

In October 1978, the visiting CIA analyst teaching my National Security Affairs course at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, began class by asking, “What’s the significance of this new Polish Pope?” Without waiting for an answer he said, “He will hasten the fall of the Soviet Union.” Recalling that experience, I asked myself, what is the significance of this new Argentine Pope?

That analyst’s prediction about John Paul II (Karol Józef Wojtyła) was prophetic. He was one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century; along with President Ronald Reagan, he helped end communist rule in Europe and Russia.

How could this humble and simple man from Buenos Aires (Jorge Mario Bergoglio) have such an impact? It’s difficult to imagine President Barack Obama and Pope Francis working in tandem against today’s threats.

The Muslim world is in chaos as Islamic fundamentalism clashes with freedom and democracy, resulting in conflict and war.

Economic crises threaten stability and prosperity.

Secularism, moral relativism and their concept of social justice conflict with traditional Judeo-Christian values, threatening chaos in the Western World.

It’s too early to know, of course, what influence Pope Francis will have. He does not appear the type to involve himself in world politics the way John Paul II did. He is precisely what the Catholic Church needs, however, when once again it is in disarray from scandals and corruption and its moral authority is under attack.

The list of the Church's problems is a long one.

The Catholic Church and many Catholic families have been harmed tremendously by the widespread pedophilia of priests, undermining the Church's moral authority.

Vatican financial scandals raise doubts about Church leaders and the Church's ability to manage its resources.

The old-world, regal trappings of the Vatican make it appear remote and aloof as it struggles to relate the word of God and the Bible alongside advances in modern science.

Church attendance in Europe has long been in decline; attendance in the United States has dropped precipitously in recent years. Vocations to the priesthood decline year after year.

A vast amount of American Catholics take an ŕ la carte approach to their religion. A majority of them voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012 despite the President’s position on abortion and in 2012 his position on mandatory free contraception.

What the Catholic Church needs today is a Pope who will lead the Church not by edict or decree and with pomp and grandeur but by emphasizing the fundamental purpose of faith and religion by example as the early Christians did. They lit a fire in the hearts of men and women that spread around the world.

At his first public mass in a heartfelt and simple homily without notes Pope Francis said, “We can walk all we want, we can build many things, but if we don't proclaim Jesus Christ, something is wrong. We would become a compassionate NGO and not a Church which is the bride of Christ. When we walk without the cross, when we build without the cross and when we proclaim Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly. We may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, all of this, but we are not disciples of the Lord."

You may accept or reject this idea, but never underestimate its power. It’s what has prevented kings, scandals, corruption and competing ideas from destroying the Church for 2,000 years.

No Pope by himself can change the world; but just as John Paul II lit a fire in people’s hearts that had a huge political impact, Francis can also. This time it won’t bring down a system of government; it will strengthen fundamental principles and beliefs, stemming the tide of secularism and moral relativism that is subverting nations.

It’s interesting how quickly many media outlets, upon learning of Cardinal Bergoglio’s selection immediately devoted their reporting about him to the social issues he opposes: abortion, contraception, homosexuality, gay marriage, same sex adoption, as if this hadn’t been the consistent position of past Popes. Secular progressives seek to portray those that agree with the Church on these issues as bigoted or ignorant. They ignore the fact that it is families the Church seeks to protect and behaviors, not individuals, it objects to.

Many will argue that society has evolved beyond the religious beliefs handed down to us through millennia; enlightened societies embrace the acceptance of moral equality and diversity. Religion must change and adapt, they argue, to become more relevant to people in contemporary society.

Indeed, bigotry and discrimination have been among the greatest sins of mankind. The role of a great religious leader is not to justify and reinforce those sins in the name of God but to lead man on a righteous path.

If Pope Francis rises to that challenge, as many believe he will,  his legacy will be a reinvigorated, more influential Church that will positively affect the course of world affairs.

  

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