Monday, April 14, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI Makes First Visit To U.S.

As many of you already know, Pope Benedict XVI will be making his first visit to the U.S. as a pope this week; he came here 5 times when he was a Cardinal. He is expected to send a message of hope; fitting since my last post was about hope. It is a very important message always, but especially during times of difficulty and struggle. I would love to meet the pope or at least see and hear him speak. I will not be able to see him during this visit, but hopefully he will return to the U.S. and I will get to see him.

Below are two articles written in Newsweek regarding the Pope’s visit. Read both articles and then read the rest of my post. Click on the names of the authors to access the articles.

The first is written by George Weigel, who is a brilliant writer who was the author of John Paul II's biography Witness to Hope. His article portrays a very positive outlook of the visit and on its importance. The second article was written by Lisa Miller. Her article is what we have typically come to expect from our media. She uses some disheartening statistics to attempt to justify her opinion that the pope does not “connect” with the American people.

The Pope is the Vicar of Christ and the present equivalent to Peter. Jesus said to Peter that you are a rock and upon this rock I will build my church. Not all Christians are Catholic, but all Catholics are Christian. Certain issues brought up in these articles are universally rejected by all Christian denominations such as the issue of abortion. Life is a fundamental teaching of Jesus and should never be compromised or disregarded. I believe that the similarities between Christian denominations are so very closely tied and we can all agree on the most basic and fundamental teachings of Jesus Christ. Our differences, although sometimes apparent, are small in comparison to our similarities. As a Catholic, I will continue my analysis based upon my Catholic belief; most of which any Christian should be able to relate to and agree with.

While it is true that the former Pope John Paul II was and still is incredibly popular, that should not lead to criticism by comparison. Pope Benedict my have a different personality, but that does not make him a lesser person or a less capable leader. The fact that a majority of Americans do not practice their faith according to the teachings in no way justifies their actions. We are weak as human beings and we all sin, but is not a sin by the majority still a sin? During the time of Moses, the people worshiped idols and God gave us the Ten Commandments. Not all things in life are put to a democratic vote. Religious teachings and the teachings of Jesus himself are not up for discussion. Issues such as abortion are not choices to be left up by the individual. Those who argue individual freedom to justify their every action are misguided. Freedom without God is anarchy. If the numbers given in Lisa Miller's article are accurate, I am incredibly disappointed and sad. Sadly, a large percentage of people who call themselves Christians do not truly understand what they believe. I strongly feel that if a large majority of Christians truly understood what they believed and lived by the simplest and most fundamental teachings of Jesus, our world would be a much more peaceful place and the impact would have a huge ripple effect. It is our job to help make that ripple effect grow in size.

The pope’s job is not to connect to the American people, but rather to help guide us so that we might connect better with Jesus Christ! Our failings as individuals is not a reflection of the church and should not influence teachings. Throughout history there have been Popes, Cardinals, and religious faithful at all levels that have been sinners, but the teachings of Jesus have survived and thrived for over 2000 years. It is arrogant to suggest that the church that Jesus founded should change its ways to connect with us. It makes sense to me that we must trust the guidance of the Church leaders who have preserved Jesus’ message and have been guided by the Holy Spirit for over 2000 years. We are not above the Lord.

Keep the Holy Father in your prayers. Pray for a safe and successful visit. May his messages of hope, love, peace and religious tolerance in a culture that so often ignores God touch the hearts many in our nation. God bless!

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