What is the best or worst ‘to be’? Even on this topic, people on various parts of the world think differently. Once upon a time people in the US thought “to be a Communist” is the worst thing. So they fought against it tooth and nail.
In India, called a religious country, people thought the worst thing to be is to be “an atheist”, so it gave birth to so many gods and world religions. ‘Religion’ etymologically and content-wise should unite people, but unfortunately, it is becoming a divisive force all over the world and fighting one against another.
Today one of the most loved and admired and at the same time bitterly criticized world figure is Pope Francis – miracle of humility for some and grave digger of Catholic Church (last Pope according to prophets like Nostradamus).
Nice or Nasty?
He is so sweet, that many can’t spit him out, and so bitter that they can’t swallow him either. So many try to size him up and ask the question: “What is he actually – ‘a nice guy? a nasty guy? a soft or tough guy?’ Even Jesus asked such a similar question to his disciples: “What do people say that the Son of Man is?”
For Christopher Lamp who wrote an article in the NCR (read it below) the question raised is: “Pope: a nice or tough guy?” A person has hundreds of facets, not just one or two. That is what makes any of us incomprehensible to others. Indira Gandhi was not a long protruded nose, but that is how cartoonists portrayed her most of the time. The same rule is applied by writers to Francis.
A sweet or bitter Jesus?
What was Jesus during his public life?: To the blind Bar Thimeus, the woman caught in adultery, the paralytic and to every receipient of his works of mercy? To them he was “Sweet Jesus meek and mild”. But what about the traders and sellers in the temple whom he chased out with a whip and to the High priests, scribes and Pharisees? To them, he was just the opposite: “Bitter Jesus rough and wild!” But it was totally different to Peter who answered the question: “You are the Son of the living God…” etc.
What Francis does
Francis is trying just to follow his master, nothing else. Where he has to be firm he puts his foot down and says: “This far and no further!” There is a universally accepted norm: “Spare the rod and spoil the Child!” But in the US a minor can complain to the police for caning and parents could be punished. As a result, it looks there is more disorder there than anywhere else in the world today.
The principle is one has to love the sinner and hate the sin. It is because the parent loves the child and hates the mischief it does, it is punished. Francis is dead against double-speakers and doers. So was Jesus.
Their name for Jesus is: “hyprocrites”. Recall Chapter 23 of Mathew and the litany ‘woes’ he spits on them.
Hypocrites or Christians?
That is the choice for followers of Jesus. Jesus did not hesitate to call a spade a spade. So does Francis when he says that it is better to be an atheist than a hypocritical Catholic, that is, one who says one thing and does just the opposite. Apply this to the whole world or Indian church – bishops and laity. Will there be enough good Catholics who can be counted on one’s fingers in India? But one may be rest assured that the number of hypocritical Catholics — that may include more bishops and priests than laity — far outnumber those who openly and honestly admit to be atheists or agnostics.
Among the hypocritical Catholics against whom Francis took the stick to drive sense into their heads, are the grand master of the Knights of Malta; Cardinal Raymond Burke of US, priests in Nigeria who refused obedience to to their bishop; Archbishop Alfredo Zecca of Tucumán, Argentina and many others.
One lesson Francis drives home to every one of his admirers and critics is: “Be honest to God, to yourself and others, in what you think, speak and do and never be a Hypocrite.” Let others the freedom to call you an atheist, agnostic, communist, capitalist, globalist, patriotic, an all-knowing wise-crack or a know-nothing idiot. In practice all boils down to this: ‘Follow your commanding conscience – primacy of conscience –, since you are free to do either of the two in case of doubt and since you have to act now, not later.’
They all go to make up the crowd of confusion confounded, with which this world is made. In the meanwhile Stick to what is bright and beautiful to be tolerably happy during the fleeting time we are on this earth. james kottoor, editor, ccv.