Pope Francis had some strong words for those who would introduce political rigidity into the worship of Jesus Christ during his Thursday homily, calling Christian ideology an “illness” and impossible to maintain alongside legitimate faith.
The Pope warned against interpreting the words of the New Testament in a “rigid,” political way. “In ideologies there is not Jesus,” he noted, “…and when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought…”
Pope Francis continued by arguing that the doors to the Church must always be open and that the nature of ideological thought “chases away the people” and “frightens.” He said those who interpret the Church’s teachings as a way of life that is a “moralistic, caustic ideology” have a “serious illness.”
Furthermore, the Pope warned that many who alleged to follow the same God throughout history had failed to do so given this “attitude of thought,” especially those who attacked Jesus when he was on Earth. Skeptics at the time, he argued, were “insidious… for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.” He plead to his audience that they pray to those using such word games to attempt to negate greater truths or exclude anyone from the light of the Church.
The Pope, whose comments on homosexuality, materialism, and poverty have endeared him to many on both sides of the political spectrum, has placed an emphasis on depoliticizing his office and instead turning it into a pedestal from which to preach inclusion.
Some are already using the Pope’s comments as ideological ammunition against the American right. One DailyKos contributor wrote in response that Jesus “was a passionate progressive,” and the Pope’s words make it appear “God is being revealed as a democrat.” Some headlines on the matter automatically add “right-wing” to the description of what the Pope has eschewed, despite his statements clearly denouncing political partisanship as a religious vehicle.
More generally, Esquire published a list of reasons today the Pope is actually a “model politician” in contrast with his predecessor, “Pope Palin,” despite the increasingly severe tenor of his public statements against politicizing the office of Pontiff (arguably precisely his allure as a governing personality).
Up next for the Pope–not politics, of course, but cricket, as the Vatican expands its sports program to foster interfaith and international unity, cooperation, and tolerance. The Vatican also appears to be awaiting a major logistical shake-up that could streamline the Church has a bureaucratic entity.