Considering Pope Francis

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When Cardinal Bergoglio, a.k.a., Pope Francis, stepped onto that balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square, my reaction was probably like many Catholics: a sense of excitement and mystery.

My ignorance of his background rushed forth in my initial thoughts: Though happy that he’s Latin American, I lamented what his choice might signal about Europe. Pope Benedict, after all, had been committed to saving Europe from its rapid, voluntary de-Christianization.

And so, by picking a Latin American, was the Church (in a sense) surrendering Europe?

Not at all. In fact, that’s one reason why the pick of Cardinal Bergoglio is so brilliant. He’s a Latin American of Italian ethnicity. He has one foot in Latin America and one foot in Europe. The Europe project isn’t dead.

But while I’m thrilled that Pope Francis, like his predecessors, remains committed to Europe, I hope he remains vocal in the Church’s battle against the Death Culture.

Francis TVIn his first homily, Pope Francis spoke glowingly about St. Joseph, “the ‘custos,’ the protector.” Pope Francis began by asking: “The protector of whom?” He noted Mary, Jesus, and the “universal Church.” He didn’t stop there. He listed many things Joseph protected and that we should protect. Quite conspicuously, however, he never once listed what Joseph protected foremost: the unborn child.

The new pope’s homily repeatedly underscored the need to protect the environment, the poor, the needy, the weak, creation, children, the elderly, families, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, parents, and “every man and every woman.” He told us to be “protectors of God’s gifts,” as well as “our emotions,” “our hearts,” and “evil intentions.” He listed still more: “the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and those in prison.”

But Pope Francis never once denoted the unborn child—the primary object of St. Joseph’s protection, which, in our times, needs protecting more than anything else.

Certainly the new pope is pro-life, but why this obvious omission?

Just as the Church has remained openly committed to saving Europe, I hope its leader remains openly—and vocally—committed to saving the unborn child.

For Catholic Exchange dot com and Ave Maria Radio, I’m Paul Kengor.


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Dr. Paul Kengor


Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values. His books include “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism” and “Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.”

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  • John

    It has been interesting watching, reading, listening to traditionalists and conservatives in the Church the past few days. They find themselves in a strange place – at odds (at least partially) with the Holy Father! Now even beginning to say it publicly. Clearly from past work Pope Francis works and preaches to protect the unborn. So what T/C’s are upset about? It’s time for an examination of conscience folks. “Pro Life” is a comprehensive view of the world and our activities in it. Expressing it as Pope Frances did does not diminish the fight for the unborn, nor does it make the scope of the problem regarding the unborn lessor. It DOES mean the WORLD does NOT revolve around USA and Europe. Pro-Life has a different meaning in places were millions upon millions are ravaged by severe poverty, economic exploitation, war and violence, etc. So check the USA vision at the door and ask yourself how YOU are contributing to these other plights against life in places around the world, either directly or indirectly via American culture. Yes, the unborn must be protected and I am sure the Holy Father will speak. But it’s time realize our distorted vision of “pro life” and the “world”. A pope who has lived it has begun to clarify it.

  • zola98

    Thanks John, you’ve stated it much better than I ever could. Too many think Pro Life starts and ends in the womb and ignore the fact that in today’s enviornment, children living and dying in/with hunger, starvation, murder, physical, mental, emotional abuse, treatable diseases should also be pro life choices yet noone seems to care about these innocent, defenceless new borns/babies/children once they are born. We toss them aside, we don’t fight for their survival because they are no longer important to communities, we don’t see them until they become the news. Pro Life cannot and must not be just about the unborn in the womb but about all children, ie those who are born and who depend on us adults to protect, feed, clothe, house and teach them. Yes we fail at the basis necessities of life for those most in need. What would Jesus say regarding our disregard, our intolerance, our irresponsiblity, our scorn, our hate for these poor defenceless children?

  • Clement_W

    Dear Dr. Kengor,

    While I agree with (almost) everything you say, there IS one thing you have omitted, i.e. The Power of Prayer of each and everyone as St. James says ‘The prayers of a just person avail much’.

    To me, having been there and done that, there are 3 signs of Jonah:

    the First – the 3 days in the belly of the whale;

    the Second – Jonah’s disobedience in carrying out the mission assigned by God – to warn the Ninevites about the coming judgement on them and their subsequent repentance and God’s acceptance of their repentance;

    the Third – but Jonah’s judgementalism of God in his anger at God for having shown the Ninevites mercy.

  • QuoVadisAnima

    While I am inclined to believe Dr. Kengor is being something of an alarmist here, as well as doing a disservice to our Pope, these comments above are both uncharitable & disingenuous. I commonly hear remarks of this tenor, however, from “social justice” people presenting a false dichotomy in an effort to make it seem that pro-lifers are single-mindedly fixed on the unborn to the exclusion of all else. I have NEVER met a pro-lifer who did not value human life in all its stages, from beginning to end.

    Conversely, the majority of those I have encountered who promote the “seamless garment” concept were using it to justify their efforts to push the abortion issue into the background so they could ignore it while focusing on their “social justice” (a Catholic term hijacked by them as a euphemism for liberal) causes. Given the frequency in which this has been done, the paranoia of Catholics when it comes to this concept and the use of these terms IS completely understandable!

  • helen lawson

    why would you doubt that. The holy father still has a lot to share with us, be patient and he knows people like you are doing a good job

  • Richard III

    Yeah, Pope Francis does not mention unborn babies anywhere, but he does mention brothers, sisters, children, and the weak, as well as mothers, fathers, and families. Nowhere does he specify whether the children he mentions are born or not, but he could well have meant both. If he’s for the protection of the family and the constituent parts of the family that he does mention, chances are he’s also for the protection of those members not specifically referred to.

  • wpostma

    Wow, dude. Give the guy a break. If you’re going to analyze every homily by its omissions, then you’re ceding SANITY to everyone else, not just EUROPE and the PRO-LIFE message. Dude. Seriously. Chill.

  • lightedlamp94

    This is of grave concern considering the the horror of the abortion epidemic. Further, only 1 in 30 embryos are even used during invitro. The rest are disregarded and thrown away, utilizing only the best and the finest for implantation. Abortion is a holocaust but, invirto. is an even greater evil. It creates millions more dead babies each and every day. If the Pope neglected to mention the greatest evils we face…
    I agree with Dr. Kengor, sound the alarm. There aren’t near as many starving children in world as those being selectively killed. Until we wage war on this, every other battle is hopeless. Wake up America, how long do you think God will let such grave evil go on? Every Catholic ought to be doing something for the Pro-life cause daily. Instead they are too busy consuming material goods, not procreating, and voting for Obama.

  • I wondered that too since we know that Pope Francis was outspokenly pro life in his home country…and my first thought was : “I hope they haven’t gotten to him already.” Too many of our own Cardinals and Bishops do not speak out publicly and consistently on the sanctity of life and of traditional marriage. But I believe Pope Francis will stand strong for life and I also believe he will clear up the division in the American hierarchy regarding prominent Catholics – especially politicians like Pelosi and Biden – who aggressively and publicly pursue and anti-life, anti-traditional marriage, anti-Bishops, anti-Church agenda and urge Catholics to stand with them saying that the Church and the Bishops are out of touch with modern times. These ‘Catholics’ have become emboldened by the failure of Church leaders to inform them that they are not Catholics in good standings since they aid and abet the murder of unborn human babies and should not present themselves for Holy Communion. Pope John Paul, Pope Emeritus Benedict and Pope Francis have already spoken out strongly about this – Pope Emeritus Benedict even wrote a strong letter to our Bishops informing them that those who did as Pelosi, Biden, Cuomo and others do – should not receive the Eucharist. The letter was entrusted to Cardinal McCarrick who kept it from his fellow Bishops…so there is a big problem in the Catholic Church and I believe Pope Francis, when the time is right, will speak into this…