Today Jorge Bergoglio, aka "Pope Francis", addressed the combined membership of the United States Congress. According to Jorge, he is addressing not just Congress but "the entire people of the United States". As one of those people, allow me to respond specifically to one paragraph in his speech.
I will set aside for a moment the preceding paragraph where he seems to paint with the broadest of brushes and links fundamentalism with religious violence. I know a lot of people who would be considered Christian fundamentalists, including yours truly, and none of them are remotely violent. Labeling all fundamentalists at least as potentially violent people, especially given the bloody past of the religion he leads, seems designed to assuage the sensitivities of Muslims while casting people who follow Christ under the proverbial bus.
I wanted to look specifically at the next paragraph replicated from a transcript found at the website of the National Review (emphasis mine):
But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners. The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps. We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within. To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place. That is something which you, as a people, reject.Well pardon me for being simplistic but after all I follow a simplistic Savior. Jesus said you must be born again (John 3:3-5) or you will not be able to see His Kingdom. Not "you might consider being born-again as one of dozens of possible acceptable options". No, He said You Must. He also said that those who are born-again and believe in Him are saved but those who aren't are still under condemnation (John 3:14-18). He further said that on the last day He would divide the sheep from the goats ( Matthew 25:31-46 ) and the wheat from the tares ( Matthew 13:24-30). The fate of the tares and the goats is fire and eternal punishment. Kinda a downer and awfully reductionist. You are in or you are out and you are only in based on being born-again in Christ. Otherwise you are out. The world consists of two kinds of people, unregenerate sinners and those made righteous in Christ (2 Cor 5:21). Jesus was many things and one of the most notable was that He didn't mince words, calling evil for what it is and directing the word "good" only to His Father. Noticeably absent from his speech was any reference to Jesus Christ by name, although he did make room for Dorothy Day. I do give him credit for his somewhat oblique reference to the rights of the unborn.
I know it is considered impolite to question this visitor to our fair land but after all he did address me in an indirect way. I liked the prior "pope", at least Ratzinger was a little less nuanced and more direct. It turns out that I like my popes to be a little more Catholic.