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The Papacy And Immigration
Thursday, September 24, 2015
It doesn’t take a Catholic to be pleased with the recent visit by Pope Francis, just as you don’t have to be British to watch and welcome the visits of Great Britain’s royal family. All of us are proud of at least portions of this country and like to put that best foot forward, showcasing our nation to visiting dignitaries.

And we don’t have a problem with the stated reasons for the Pope’s visit — to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to address environmental issues.

To be truthful, you don’t have to be a proverbial “tree hugger” to address environmental problems. For the Christian such an issue falls back on the stewardship responsibilities God placed upon the shoulders of the first man and woman, and their descendants.

We don’t even have a problem with most of the statement Pope Francis made to the joint session of Congress on Sept. 24: “Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility.”

But the meaning behind some of his words gives us pause, as do some other words reportedly included in his speech.

“We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal,” he also said.Most certainly we shouldn’t handle the basic immigration issue with a “mindset of hostility,” just as we shouldn’t handle most issues with hostile feelings, but for a nation to treat someone with kindness, fairness and justice at least suggests the individuals involved will respond in a similar manner.

It is not kindness and fairness that leads an individual to sneak into this country like a “thief in the night.” And it isn’t a lack of justice when that nation responds severely.

Even God’s Holy Bible directs his followers to abide by the laws of man, as long as those laws aren’t counter to God’s law. In other words, it is not being “unkind” for citizens of this nation to object to the violation of our immigration laws any more than it is for us to object to the actions of other criminals within our midst.

As for the Pope’s remark that we “must not be taken aback by their numbers,” it doesn’t take into account the cost of turning our heads when it has such an impact on both this nation’s financial condition and its security.

We’re not talking about the political symbolism of granting refuge to a single Syrian family within the walls of the Holy See.

From what we’ve heard, Pope Francis has yet to direct the Vatican Bank to assist with the cost this nation must bear due to illegal immigration.

When he does, we’ll be more than happy to listen to his opinion on how we should fund the “cradle to the grave” benefits for these “thieves in the night.”

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Pope Francis’ Visit Points To The ‘Great Divide’
Friday, February 27, 2015
Pope Francis is here. By “here,” I mean, in the USA. By “is,” I mean right now as I write on the first day of autumn 2015. I pray that his visit is a blessing.

What? You’re surprised that a Protestant pastor would pray for the Pope? Why wouldn’t I? His leadership and decisions affect over a billion people. Yes, I am a Protestant, meaning basically that I “protest,” as in, “am not comfortable with,” some beliefs and practices of Roman Catholicism; but, by the way, I also “protest” plenty in the religious tradition in which I was born, and some folks there would certainly “protest” me.

Forgive me if I smile and see some balance here.

Okay, back to the Pope.

I don’t think Pope Francis is planning to visit our Grand Canyon, but he’ll certainly be visiting face to face a far bigger canyon, one he deals with every day.

You see, one of the largest and deepest “divides” in our world centers on authority and the nature of truth. People on each side of that canyon seem almost completely incapable of understanding folks on the other side.

Most people, at least in the western world, and virtually all of the mainstream media, cannot understand how anyone, from the most common worshiper to the Pope himself, can believe in a standard of truth and authority that comes from beyond themselves and is not open to change, no matter how they feel about it.

Our society looks at opinion polls and the latest trends for what it believes. Even a majority of the Supreme Court justices seem to like that approach these days with the Constitution. It’s very nice if you find yourself and your own opinions in line with the most recent and most popular polls and trends.

This Pope is well liked. Polls show that most Americans in general have a “generally favorable” opinion of him. Me, too. (I could wish he’d say less about climate change and more about the slaughter of the unborn.)

The fact is, he and I, and anyone who believes that truth is rooted in an unchangeable God and not in polls and trends, stand on the same side of the canyon.

We may disagree on which truths are unchangeable, which the Bible attests to, and what place church tradition plays.

But, strange companions though we may be, folks like the Pope as head of the Catholic Church, and Pastor Billy Bob down at First Protestant Megaplastic Megachurch, and anyone who believes in a divine standard of truth, are on the opposite side of the canyon from folks who seem to think that as soon as an opinion poll shows that most folks would like the sun to rise in the west, or would prefer 15 wives, then, well, let’s just make it so.

So the Pope is always assailed by folks who don’t understand why he doesn’t just modernize and get up to date with the majority of popular opinion since the majority is always right, right?

But the Pope, and many Christians, many who differ with him hugely on some points, share this belief in common: What is true, what is right, is rooted in an unchanging God. That which is most genuinely and deeply true in the universe God created will never change because He will never change. No matter what I think about it.

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