For the first time next Thursday, the first African American President will meet the first Latin American Pope. Obama’s praise of the pontiff is strong, calling him “a messenger of peace and justice,” and it is already understood that they will focus on agreement rather than debate. With the single largest denomination in the United States, 75 million Catholics will be paying close attention, along with the Latin subculture that makes up almost half of those under 40 years old, drawing political ramifications as well.
Coming from a president with idealism for justice extending into universal health care as well as apprehension for military intervention in Syria and an equal distrust of trickle-down economics, the two share a lot of common ground. The Pope himself chose the name of St. Francis of Assisi, a saint who was a mendicant and follower of ascetic ideals, and in addition to inequality of income, the pontiff stated in late November that “a globalization of indifference and a culture of prosperity deadens us.”
The Pope is expected to touch on topics that might be uncomfortable to hear for Obama, such as his difference of opinion about the US embargo on Cuba and immigration reform within American politics. In addition, the President disagrees vehemently with the Catholic Church’s stance on abortion rights and gay marriage, which the Pope has openly stood behind in favor of traditional beliefs. Before the two meet on Thursday, on Tuesday the US Supreme Court is set to hear arguments about the mandate within Obamacare that covers contraception, which bishops have spoken out strongly against.
After the celebration of the anniversary of the new Pope, a study performed by the Pew Center polled his popularity at 85 percent compared to John Paul II’s 93 percent, but more importantly the first year is considered to be the height of a pontiff’s favor with the public. Unfortunately, in an Italian paper called the Corriere della Sera, Pope Francis defended the Catholic Church’s record on child sexual abuse scandals and gave up the notion that he was more mainstream than previously thought.
Having worked as a nightclub bouncer, the Argentinian is the 266th pope, in which capacity he is also the Bishop of Rome and absolute Sovereign of the Vatican City State. His secular life would suggest that he has enough pragmatism to break the doctrinal divide and create ecclesiastical reform in the Vatican, and upon becoming Pope he hit the ground running, positioning himself as liberal as he could under the circumstances in an attempt to create a dialogue between people of all faiths in an age when church attendance is rapidly falling.
Nearly one-third of Americans who were raised Catholic no longer describe themselves as such, and American Catholic churches have lost 5 percent of their membership over the last decade since the abuse scandals started. The Church has notoriously misrepresented these numbers due to a large increase in Catholic immigrants from Latin America, but unfortunately in places like the American Southwest, abuse scandals persisted specifically because pederasts were relocated to neighborhoods with predominately Spanish-speaking congregations.
This was an attempt by the Catholic Church to avoid further outrage, because future victims would either not speak English or the parents of the child would be hesitant to trust police in a foreign land, considering the corruption in Latin America. This attempt for the Pope to defend the party line proves that the institution cares more about itself than the people it preaches to, otherwise it would not go to such lengths to protect the monsters in their midst to the detriment of the innocent. Not only did they fail to protect their congregation, they have repeatedly across decades been aiding and abetting the activities of child-molesters.
Pope Francis has confirmed his stance with Catholic doctrine on contraception, abortion, and homosexuality, but all codified faiths contain details about everything and therefore people pick and choose what they wish to apply at any given time. The problem is never religion–it is just the best excuse for people to do anything and say they know the will of God. The real problem is the institution because it contains all the faults of the men who create and run it. Though people might subjectively define themselves as one faith or another, everyone chooses what they want to see and practice, and due to this, there are more Christians who focus on love as a guiding light, the power and value of self-sacrifice, and the overwhelming beauty of the concept of unearned grace and forgiveness that is purely Catholic. There are those who sit in tombs of self-denial and flagellation while others spout gibberish and dance with snakes in ecstasy, so the only real commonality is the humility of Jesus for Catholics and a personal relationship with God for Protestants.
For anyone with experience of dogmatic tradition as with the Catholic Church, it was obvious from the beginning that most of what the Pope was doing was to set himself apart from his predecessors, not usher in a new and exciting age of change for the Church itself. A religion based upon formality views its continued existence as being a result of those formalities, as set in proverbial stone by the First Council of Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine in 325 AD. Canonical law was never meant to be mutable after heresies were designated, and so anyone wearing the title of Pope, whether he wears the papal mozzetta cape or not, is going to have to carry the weight of that history and therefore has little room to ignite lasting change. In this matter, it may be the expectations of the public to blame for wanting progressive attitudes in a doctrine designed specifically to avoid alteration, but the matter at hand is still critical and has nothing to do with Pope Francis.
According to all religions, the human spirit is divine, yet the problem of victimization is that this concept is lost. People believe that they are left alone to suffer because nothing was there to protect them, therefore the world is evil and pointless and visceral doubt plagues everyone during their darkest times. It is also what people reject when they come into the philosophy of self-created realities, because existentially things happen because they happen and bad people do bad things because they can. In the long run, however, the heart becomes unraveled and proves where power and choice truly reside, and it is never where the Ego believes. This is how the future purifies the past.
In abuse, people think they deserve it, because if God left them alone in darkness they must come to the conclusion that they deserved it simply because it happened. Until they grow to recognize the fact that they not only deserve happiness but also that they do not deserve more pain and degradation and insecurity, they can never accomplish the healing of their identities. As it is said, time heals all wounds, but for the support that should be reached for in the church has instead become the very source of suffering and mistrust, not because of the actions of the few evil men in their ranks but rather the widespread protection of evil by supposedly well-intended priests, who must have joined the religion in the first place for reasons other than protecting pedophiles.
At some point it becomes emotionally clear that the spirit leaves in distress, and it is this that marks the emptiness of depression. These locks are cold and hard and must be broken by willpower that is equally invested in feeling the breath of freedom within all things. This is not about the Pope, this is about those who need to be healed and the natural state of existence which has no pull by gravity whatsoever. The darkness recedes in time, and all victims must offer this patience so that internal scars will heal, because dedication to recovery is not something to be taken lightly. The advice, “follow your heart,” means that a person should follow their intuition, the deepest connection of their spirit with the Source that tells someone who they really are, what they are a part of and what is a part of them.
The scientific truth of the Universe is that all is made of light, no different than God, in whose image human singularity was truly defined. Personal peace is only possible after the transition of learning how to digest anger, because people mature within a culture’s illusions, the collective dreams of others, and the self-idealized concepts of their parents, which becomes a cage to help everyone maintain those illusions, but that is not reality. The laws of thermodynamics prove the conservation of energy to be paramount, because though the Source is infinite, the physical manifestation of it is not. Things change shape but energy is constant, limited within itself, therefore nothing is achieved without giving something up. This is the definition of sacrifice and the biggest price to pay is the inner child that leaves everyone with the realization of the pain of others. Perhaps the Pope’s example is logical, that it is easier to be apathetic and stay dissociated, but too many victims need help at this point for good people to bury their heads in the sand.
Emotion becomes a world within itself, and so physical perception is not the pivotal axis of all things, it is merely the echo of the void back into the light. As Catholics believe, on earth as it is in Heaven, as above so below, and therefore with Paradise above and all the rest beneath, the real center of everything is at the crossroads of the illusion of materialistic form, a mere photo-negative reflection of the truth. This is where energy condenses into matter, the opposite of the event horizon that splits everything back into energy at the moment of singularity within a Black Hole, where time ceases to exist.
This is experienced as human emotional development from childhood to adult and the release of innocence becomes a war within everyone, and as it is known, in civil war a country must destroy itself to live. This is the temporal construct that must suffer for the spirit to rise, but what is important is the eternal connection and how energy is breathed into the world, not the way the Ego falls prey to habits of hedonistic delusion that perverted sex and control over death is how real power is manifested.
Every human carries a little candle in the darkness and prays that it will not go out, and as it gets dimmer and dimmer with age it is forgotten that here, and only here, does the light have limitation. The Source is infinite, so the illusion itself is that anyone has to keep their little fire of innocence burning at all. In fact, it must be extinguished within people who wish to help, because that is how evil men have chosen to design their world. They take light, they take innocence, they own and use and so something must be sacrificed for their victims. Light must be given up for healing, and innocence must be abandoned to understand the depths of sorrow for the purpose of knowing how to change it.
That little candle is a faint promise compared to the fact that everyone is made of light. It is only the dimming that creates enough fear to distort the world into a place of pain and suffering because of it. People fill through years of anguish a bubble of distillated hatred that burns and lashes out at others, kept within everyone as the illusion that the void can touch what is precious, but the spirit knows what is real, what is absolute and infinite, and so the temporary becomes suspect. Pain is then enhanced by the knowledge that the darkness is within, polluting the innocence, but in time and with patience the last becomes first. The void pulls that innocence in and consumes the inner child, along with that bubble of anger that everyone must learn to let go of. It is then that the darkness eats the pain it created in this world, thereby digesting itself and ceasing to exist.
That is when freedom becomes truth, and it stands as a simple metaphor of the Kübler-Ross model for the five stages of grief.
Opinion By Elijah Stephens