I can’t say I’m surprised that Pope Francis was Time magazine’s Person of the Year. And as an atheist, I’m not particularly disappointed by the decision. While Pope Francis hasn’t changed Church doctrine, he has at least changed its emphasis. I prefer a pope like Francis who focuses more on poverty and economic inequality than on birth control and gay marriage. I would have been more enthusiastic about Time’s choice had the Pope also acknowledged that birth control can help reduce poverty and that loving couples should not be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. In such an anachronistic and powerful institution, I would welcome small but significant reforms to Catholic Church doctrines that affect many outside the institution.
On the theory that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, harsh criticism of Pope Francis by the likes of Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh has encouraged progressive Christians and even some atheists to get on the Pope Francis bandwagon. While people can find biblical support to justify any position, some positions are more tenuous than others. That’s why I’m amused by Religious Right arguments for why Jesus, unlike Francis, is an economic conservative who deplores redistribution of wealth. In making a case that Pope Francis is promoting sin, Lance Pritchett in Bloomberg Opinion justifies his economically conservative point of view with the 10th Commandment from Exodus 20:17: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, wife, slaves, ox, donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Even if I were a biblical literalist, I’d try to ignore passages that condone slavery and regard wives as property just like donkeys. And isn’t “coveting” the engine that drives capitalism?
Unfortunately, just as I was feeling more warmly disposed toward Pope Francis, he had to go and burst my bubble with a statement reminiscent of his predecessors. In arecent homily Pope Francis said, “The spirit of curiosity generates confusion and distances a person from the Spirit of wisdom, which brings peace.” He added that “the spirit of curiosity is not a good spirit” because it distances oneself from God. The Pope has a point, at least in my case. Curiosity really did distance me from god belief, and I’m far from alone. Curiosity has turned many religious believers into nonbelievers.
Written By: Herb Silverman
continue to source article at patheos.com