Monday, February 22, 2016

Is the Pope a wonderful guy?

Pope Francis and Donald Trump have had a falling out, and it all started when the Pope said Trump is not Christian if he thinks only of building walls. Trump responded with a press release claiming that, For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful.” He later backed down at the GOP town hall in South Carolina, saying, I don't like fighting with the Pope. I like his personality; I like what he represents. He even calls him a wonderful guy. 

While Protestant leaders speculate about how this has effected JFK's remains, and canon lawyers confirm that Trump is Christian, I'm thinking about C.S. Lewis' trilemma from Mere Christianity. This is what Lewis had to say about those who think Jesus is a really great guy:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. 
And here's how it relates to Trump's (and a whole lot of other people's) views on Pope Francis. The Pope represents the Barque of Peter. He is the Vicar of Christ. He can't uphold Catholic doctrine and be a champion for everything from so-called gay marriage to the latest gender-isms. 

The Pope is meant to draw the world closer to God, through the Church that Christ established on earth. Jesus promised that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). In our culture, the niceness of the Pope becomes a twisted condoning of our sins. He has become the friend of everyone, and they assume that means he stands for nothing.

But the papacy is not about personality, or whatever it is that Pope Francis represents to Trump - dedication to his vocation, passion for his job? Christ himself declared that it is better to be hot or cold than lukewarm, and it seems everyone in our modern culture likes this Pope just fine, but we are not called to like” the papacy, or the Catholic Church, as if it's just another passing bit of news on our facebook account that we casually like while we're on a lunch break. 

We are called to obedience, to adhere to the teachings of His Church. To like the man who represents the Church must mean liking the Church's teaching, right? Because I don't like what Hugh Hefner represents. I don't like what Caitlyn Jenner represents. We are so accustomed to compartmentalizing in our lives that we're even able to divorce a person from their office, the Pope from his Church. 

We should never forget that Pope Francis is the successor of Saint Peter, and it was to him that the keys of the kingdom were given.