On Pope Francis

I am a Protestant of course, so I take a different view on many matters than do my Catholic associates, certainly on many theological issues. Thus I must state at the outset that those who want to bash either Catholics or Protestants are asked to do it elsewhere. This post is not on the merits or otherwise of Catholicism, but simply a few brief thoughts on the new Pope.

He is of course the first non-European Pope in a thousand years, and the first ever Pope from the Americas (Argentina in South America to be precise). The 76-year-old Jesuit Jorge Mario Bergoglio was the archbishop of Buenos Aires. Known especially for his humility and his work for and amongst the poor, he is a theological and social conservative.

He is said to be keen on ‘social justice’. The question is, is that, and will it be, along the lines of socialist liberation theology, or more helpful and productive approaches to really helping the poor and eradicating endemic poverty? We will likely learn more about this in the coming days.

Of special interest is his cultural and social conservatism. This is vital because of some of the most momentous battles being fought in these areas, and the need for strong leadership in these areas when so many others are capitulating and compromising.

A remark attributed to Martin Luther is quite relevant here: “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battle front besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”

Thus we need firm leadership on the key battleground issues of the day, and Pope Francis has been quite resolute and outspoken on perhaps the two key issues of our time: the sanctity of life, and the sanctity of marriage and family. Both these areas are taking a huge hammering of late, and Bergoglio has been taking a strong stance here.

On the issue of abortion for example he is staunchly pro-life. As one write-up puts it, “While Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was Archbishop of Buenos Aires he defended the life of the unborn even in cases of rape, in very stark terms. In a 2007 speech given to a gathering of priests and laity on October 2nd, then-Cardinal Bergoglio issued a defense of life even in cases of rape saying: ‘we aren’t in agreement with the death penalty,’ but ‘in Argentina we have the death penalty.  A child conceived by the rape of a mentally ill or retarded woman can be condemned to death.’

“Pro-life leaders in Argentina rejoiced at Cardinal Bergoglio’s elevation to the Pontificate.  Nicholas Lafferriere head of Argentina’s Center for Bioethics, Person and Family told LifeSiteNews.com ‘Those of us who work for life and family in Argentina have always felt ourselves to be supported and promoted by Cardinal Bergoglio. On the one hand, he has promoted the dignity of each woman and especially of women during pregnancy’.”

And he is quite firm on politicians who call themselves Catholics yet are pro-abortion. “Moreover, on behalf of the bishops of Latin America, also in 2007, Cardinal Bergoglio presented the ‘Aparecida Document’ regarding the situation of the Church in their countries. The document, approved by Pope Benedict XVI in July of that year, made a very clear statement regarding the consequences of supporting abortion, disallowing holy communion for anyone who facilitates an abortion, including politicians.”

He is also quite strong on defending the natural family and the institution of heterosexual marriage. Another report says this: “In terms of homosexual ‘marriage’, Cardinal Bergoglio fought valiantly to have the law in Argentina continue to protect the traditional family.

“In July 2009, he called on the priests of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires to bring the faithful to an upcoming protest against homosexual ‘marriage.’ ‘Let’s not be naive, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God,’ wrote Cardinal Bergoglio in a letter sent to the monasteries of Buenos Aires. ‘We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.’

“To the clergy of the parishes, Bergoglio requested that all of them read from the pulpits a declaration defending the true definition and understanding of marriage. ‘The Argentinean people will have to confront, in the coming weeks, a situation whose result could gravely injure the family. We are speaking of a bill regarding marriage between people of the same sex,’ a bill that calls into question ‘the identity, and the survival of the family: father, mother, and children.’ The latter, warns Bergoglio, might also be threatened by homosexual adoption, which would be a true form of discrimination.”

Of course these are not the only vital issues around, but they certainly are two key issues which we need strong leadership on. I am not in a position to comment on how he will do on more exclusively Catholic concerns, and we must wait and see how his new role takes shape.

And as mentioned, I differ on many areas theologically, but that is not the point of this post, or a battle I think needs to be replayed on this site. I simply offer this short overview of the man in the context of the hugely significant culture wars taking place all around us.

On at least several major battlefronts we seem to have someone who will fight the good fight. Let’s hope and pray that he does.


[969 words]

46 Replies to “On Pope Francis”

  1. Those listening to AM this morning may have heard a question put to Archbishop D Hart (Melbourne) which was prefaced by the comment that Pope Francis was not totally opposed to abortion – or words to that effect. In answering the question Archbishop Hart did not deny this and so, by inference, might be taken to have agreed with the statement. Thus listeners would be excused for believing that Pope Francis is not totally against abortion. In a piece on CathNews the Archbishop pledges loyalty and obedience and love, and whatever to the new pope. Fortunately he didn’t pledge to defend the Pope’s good name. For those of us totally opposed to abortion it is a great relief to learn the truth. Thank you Bill.
    B T Walters

  2. This is good news. While I am a Protestant like you Bill, nevertheless, regarding 1 Timothy 2 v 1 – 2, it seems appropriate to now pray:
    ‘Lord strengthen, protect and give the new Pope Francis wisdom for his task.’

    His appointment is encouraging regarding the two political issues presented in your article. And may God’s people be quickened similarly and not use this as an excuse to pretend there is no problem and go back to sleep.

    Thanks for your analysis.

    Chris McNicol

  3. “machination of the Father of Lies.” Love it! I’ve been giggling that to myself all day long.
    Anna von Marburg

  4. I would urge all those who can to attend the rallies taking place in Paris and London, on Palm Sunday, March 24th, in order to stand up for marriage between one man and one woman, to be there either in body or spirit.

    The French have already had one rally at the beginning of the year that yielded a million pro- family demonstrators. The London one, also organised by the French, outside the French embassy, only attracted a few hundred.

    However, it is anticipated that the next rally in Paris, on the 24th March, will achieve two million and they are hoping that their London counterparts will achieve several thousand. Ironically this it to be held in Trafalgar Square, under the gaze of Lord Nelson! The time for this rally is from 2-5 pm.

    Indeed, come out from behind the comfort of your church walls and religiosity, for, “Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battle front besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”


    David Skinner, UK

  5. Hi Bill,
    appreciate your rap about Francis. Thanks for filling us in.
    Peter Magee

  6. Thanks for the article Bill!!
    John Paul 2 along with Benedict 16 did an excellent job of removing liberals from positions of authority in the church. As head of the Congregation of the doctrine of the faith (formerly the Inquisition) Josef Cardinal Ratzinger put in place policies to remove pretend Catholics, and therefore liberalism, from the seminaries and educational institutions, and require all Bishops to defend the faith against heresy (unlike the Anglicans whose Bishops have been at the forefront of pushing heresy… did I say John Shelby Spong?? And this despite the bishops role historically to be defending his diocese against heresy)… One of the ways Ratzinger did this was, with John Paul 2s imprimatur, he removed the right of local diocese to elect Bishops (and therefore Archbishpps and Cardinals) with the Vatican taking over direct responsibility for this… As such there are now zero liberal cardinals left (much to the dismay of some of my liberal Roman Catholic priest friends)… Also he sacked liberal theologians, the most famous being Hans Kung, and reprimanded others.. Thus, whereas the Archbishops of Canterbury and others in the worldwide anglican communion have dropped the ball and are disappearing at an alarming rate, the Vatican has solidified its position and is even seeing growth in some areas (specifically the global south)…
    Now I’m not Catholic myself.. But I think the Roman church has set a good example for many of what fidelity to the truth can do for ones relevance in society… And I pray that God would strengthen the Vatican’s resolve in the specific social issues you mentioned Bill, and that God would reform the church in areas where it needs His grace… Till we all come to the unity of the faith in Christ Jesus our Lord, Saviour, and the one true God!!

    Joel van der Horst

  7. My favourite catholic blogger Steve Kellmeyer posted some interesting tidbits about the (my) new Pope.

    “~Lived in small apartment, not bishop’s palace,
    ~In that apartment, he cared for an elder sickly bishop, and cooks for both of them himself,
    ~He wandered the slums, looking for people to catechize and baptize,
    ~Helped people flee Argentina’s dictatorship,
    ~In 2000, he ordered all priests in Argentina to wear garments of penance to atone for sins committed during Argentina’s military regime ”

    I was praying for a strong, worthy, holy and capable man to be the new Pope, and on initial reports it’s looking very good.

    Of course, the Holy Spirit guides the Conclave, and it is said that we get the Pope we need, whether we realise it or not. 🙂

    I’m just so glad now that I have one. I don’t like being sede vacante 😀

    Debra Franklin

  8. Thank you Bill for your diligence in giving this commentary on the new Pope. Contrary to the belief of many evangelical/Protestant Christians, I do not believe that the Pope of Rome is the anti-Christ. How can a mere man that stands forthright in high office, proclaiming the preservation of life for the unborn and speaks out on issues of same sex marriage, how could such a man be anti-Christ?
    We must pray of unity amongst Christian voices, in order for the secular world to take any notice. Along with the voices of the commentators above, I agree, that along with Pope Francis, we must pray for wholeness among those that love the Lord Jesus as their Lord and savour.
    Bill Heggers, Perth

  9. “Contrary to the belief of many evangelical/Protestant Christians, I do not believe that the Pope of Rome is the anti-Christ. How can a mere man that stands forthright in high office, proclaiming the preservation of life for the unborn and speaks out on issues of same sex marriage, how could such a man be anti-Christ?”
    Striclty speaking, the attribution of anti-Christ to the Papacy applies to the office, Bill, not necessarily the man. In as much as the Papacy, an office which extends through history, condemns God’s Gospel of salvation by grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone, it is anti-Christ.

    Bill M., it is almost certain that the words you attribute to Luther were never uttered by him, although he said similar things. They appear verbtim in a 19th C. English novel by Elizabeth Rundle Charles, in which they come from the mouth of one of the characters.

    Pr Mark Henderson

  10. Thank you for this article Bill. There is an urgency in my heart that it is a time to press into the Father and pray. It is clear that this is a pivotal moment in history that we are encountering and that we need to rally and fight these battles in prayer. I can see the history making potential for great battles to be won and great potential for the gospel to be defended and heard through the rise of a leader that will bring clear direction and truth to the issues of today. I am in great hope that this will be a turning point in our history; a turn toward Jesus. I will be praying for this man to know the Father, know His voice, know His leading in fear and obedience, placing Him first and foremost above all else. I feel the urgency to uphold this man in prayer and encourage the body to fight for the change.

    Anna Davis

  11. The Argentine claim of the Falkland island is very questionable, they never had possession of the islands, yet they hold to their claim with religious fervour. The Pope said, “We will mobilise the Catholic church and invade the Falkland Islands. Once we throw the Brits out and their stupid referendum, we will build a miniature copy of St Paul’s Basilica there and put an Argie flag on top of it,” Disregarding that in a recent referendum 99.8 per cent of the inland’s population are in favour of retaining their British sovereignty. If a Muslim jihadist had said this we would be up in arms.

    Des Morris

  12. This is great that there is a new pope, and that he is of course pro-life.
    Scott Miller

  13. In his homily today, Pope Francis spoke of the need of the Church to always “confess Christ.” On the Catholic Channel the commentators were saying that the Pope was using “confess” in the way Protestants use the word, and not referring to the Catholic sacrament. I doubt it was ecumenical outreach, yet the more Catholics and Protestants can use a common language, the better.

    Hank Budde

  14. Bill,
    It is partly on this issue of “co-belligerency” with Roman Catholics that I am constrained to say that I cannot wholeheartedly support your work. To say that we can stand together with Rome on moral issues, and rate the theological issues as of secondary importance (or so it would appear) in the current battle against the left and Islam etc. is, I believe, wrongheaded.

    John Paul II during his tenure went all over the world on his various forays promoting transubstantiation and the Mary cult, which are the centrepieces of Romish idolatry. Moreover, Rome does not have the Gospel! See the apologist James White in this Dividing Line in the wake of Francis I’s election:

    Don’t get me wrong: I appreciate much of what you do and stand for, but in these ecumenical days it is all too easy to gloss over the crucial issues of doctrine, and just stress the moral issues. But people are not saved by morality! Hence our purpose is not well served by alliance with those who follow the self-styled “vicar of Christ on Earth” and who promote the idolatrous worship/veneration of Mary, corpus Christi, relics, saints, etc. etc.

    I know I will be denounced as a bigot and an anachronism, but I value the Gospel of free grace salvation above all else.

    Murray R Adamthwaite

  15. Hi Bill

    After writing my earlier small offering in relation to this story, I have been doing some further reading.

    In passing, I must say I very much appreciated Joel van der Horst’s offering. His insight confirmed a Catholic friend’s recent comments about the Catholic hierarchy’s commitment to both these social matters.

    But the reason for my writing this time connects with some of the criticism emerging against the new pope for his role, or lack of it, in Argentina’s ‘dirty war’ from 1977 – 1983. The link article below states:
    ‘It’s without dispute that Jorge Mario Bergoglio, like most other Argentines, failed to openly confront the 1976-1983 military junta while it was kidnapping and killing thousands of people in a “dirty war” to eliminate leftist opponents.’


    Clearly, there is an accusation being leveled here already against the new pope. But from my limited observation, this seems a more that a little unfair. Also, I note that this accusation is coming once again from the equivalent of the left wing of the Labor Party; those who hate the church, and have a prejudice against Jorge Mario Bergoglio because of it. From my limited reading, there was a virtual civil war going on in Argentina over the years 1976 – 1983. Extreme and violent behaviour was occurring from both the socialist left (which was seeking to seize power) and the right wing military (which had seized power). Those accusing the new pope seem to be doing so out of resentment because – in their view – he failed to do enough to support the cause of socialists.

    The truth of this matter is complicated. Like any war or war crime; it requires very careful analysis. This accusation, which has arisen so quickly, appears hasty, simplistic, and most likely to be an assessment based upon prejudicial views.

    I was wondering if you had any insight into this matter Bill?

    Cheers, Chris McNicol

  16. Thanks guys

    I knew it would be rather in vain for me to plead for a bit of grace and respect on this hot potato issue. Twice in my article I made it quite clear that this was about the election of new Pope, not about the theological differences between Catholics and Protestants. As I have said so often already, there are thousands of sites where Protestants can bash Catholics all day long. And there are thousands of sites where Catholics can bash Protestants all day long. My CW site is not one of them.

    Yet sure enough plenty of people have insisted on getting into more sectarian warfare here, despite my pleas. Some of the more belligerent and nasty comments have gone into the bin, and some which were a bit more on topic and irenic I have allowed to be posted here.

    But it looks like some people would rather pick a fight than respect my wishes, cut me some slack, and show me some Christian grace. And for many of these folks, it does not matter what I might say to seek to justify myself. They have already concluded that I must be the Antichrist or a heretic to be burned at the stake. But for those who are a bit more civil, rational, and gracious, I do offer a new article here on why I do what I do:


    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  17. A nice write-up, giving good background information and context, and yet, when you get right down to the essentials of it, in a long-winded way you are essentially saying once again that the most important issues in Christianity are homosexuality and abortion. I am orthodox in my beliefs about them, I expect I believe pretty much identical to you, and they are important issues. But I am tired of the constant focus on these two issues, to the detriment of covering other issues. It’s straight out of the moral majority playbook. Who says those are the “two key issues of our time”? They have been around for thousands of years, even in the time of the Romans, when Jesus lived. You give social justice and poverty the briefest of mentions, skip all the pope’s other theology, and get right down to what’s important to you: gays and abortion. I’m tired of this imbalance. Jesus mentioned the dangers of money more than any other issue, and never mentioned homosexuality once. Maybe you should remember that when you decide what the “key issues” are.

    In my opinion, materialism, greed and poverty and all the problems that flow out of those are destroying our lives and civilisation more than homosexuality is.

    I have commented once before on your blog, giving a polite reasoned response to a post, and you refused to allow it to be posted. You say that “this site is meant to express my point of view” as if others should not get to post theirs, and yet you decry Labor’s War on Freedom of Speech. If a comment is polite, you should post it. Will you post this one, or like I saw on the last post I commented on, do you only approve comments that agree with your article, or that commend it?

    Andrew Williams

  18. Thanks Andrew

    But of course I answer your objection when I offered my quote attributed to Luther. That is not to your liking, evidently because of your leftism. Indeed, I did briefly discuss wealth and poverty in this very article. And I have nearly 2500 articles here. Have you read them all Andrew? I write about all sorts of topics all the time.

    And the fact that you are really not on the same page here, even though you pretend to be, is your imbecilic line used all the time by the homosexual revisionists: Jesus “never mentioned homosexuality once”. Spare me. Jesus of course never mentioned rape once, or sexual trafficking, or environmental degradation. Obviously then, according to your tortured “reasoning,” he did not give a rip about those matters either. But I fully deal with this lame furphy in my book.

    Also, this my site and I will post what I like. I of course have thousands of comments here by my critics. And when I have a clear inkling that I have an annoying troll on my hands, I will certainly give him the flick every time.

    And guess what: if you don’t like what I cover, no one is pointing a gun at your head, forcing here to stay here and get so bent out of shape. So feel free to go elsewhere and do your complaining.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  19. Andrew this is a useless charge at best. Jesus said the poor you’ll always have with you (and if we continue to vote for socialist welfare-state, tax and spends hippies then this is guaranteed). Yet he called for repentance more than he talked about money (may I add that his discussion about money had more to do with placing trust in God, then placing trust in government). Jesus said if you lust after someone that makes you an adulterer and if you hate you’re brother that makes you a murderer. And Jesus said if you cause one of the little ones to stumble its better that a large rock were tied around your neck and you be thrown into the sea. The applies directly to homosexuality and abortion issues. If you affirm gay behaviour that causes a child to stumble and if you murder a child, well, I think that speaks for itself. In any case, whilst we may disagree on economic policies, the scripture is clear on the right to life and the call to flee immorality!!

    Joel van der Horst

  20. Thanks guys

    I just received this from Bob Thomas at New life and it is worth passing on:

    The (evangelical) Anglican Bishop of Argentina and former Primate of the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone, the Rt Revd Greg Venables said Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was ‘an inspired choice’, adding:

    ‘Many are asking me what he is really like. He is much more of a Christian, Christ-centered and Spirit-filled, than a mere churchman. He believes the Bible as it is written. I have been with him on many occasions and he always makes me sit next to him and invariably makes me take part and often do what he as Cardinal should have done. He is consistently humble and wise, outstandingly gifted yet a common man. He is no fool and speaks out very quietly yet clearly when necessary.’

    Bishop Venables added that in a conversation with Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, the latter made it clear that he values the place of Anglicans in the Church universal. ‘He called me to have breakfast with him one morning and told me very clearly that the Ordinariate was quite unnecessary and that the Church needs us as Anglicans.’

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  21. Des Morris (above) has committed a real howler by claiming that Pope Francis has called on his native Argentina to invade the Falkland Islands.

    Morris quotes the new Pope as saying: “We will mobilise the Catholic church and invade the Falkland Islands. Once we throw the Brits out and their stupid referendum, we will build a miniature copy of St Paul’s Basilica there and put an Argie flag on top of it.”

    This alleged “quote” comes straight from The Daily Squib (March 13, 2013), a satirical magazine, as can be seen by its “report” of the supposed response by Argentine president, Cristina Kirchner, who, it says, “was very happy at the news of the Argentinian pope and celebrated by getting more botox into her swollen rubber lips”.

    “‘Blabber blibber blubber,’ she said to a TV audience from her Buenos Aires presidential mansion,” said The Daily Squib.

    I’m surprised Morris didn’t cotton on to the unlikelihood that the Pope would use slang words like “Brits” and “Argies”, when it is known that he is not fluent in English, or that an Argentinian would ever refer to the Falkland Islands by any other name than the Malvinas.

    It is true that, in April last year, the current Pope (then Cardinal Bergoglio) said that the Malvinas were Argentinian possessions which had been wrongfully usurped by the British; but I don’t recall him calling for a military solution.

    John Ballantyne, Melbourne.

  22. Hans,
    I would be inclined to be very careful with Ann Barnhardt’s take on anything. I admire her continued rock solid stance on Islam and Western cultural decline, but her views on Church matters and doctrine is sometimes extraordinarily askew and narrow-minded, and far too often totally lacking in humility and grace. To be sure, God’s wrath against ongoing defiance against Him is reality, but possible the greatest challenge for all of us is to correctly handle the word of truth amongst other believers, the world and before God Himself. (2 Tim 2:15, 23-26, Acts 17:11, Rom 12, Rev 2-3)

    And I too can only wonder at Andrew’s intent at minimising the dangers of abortion and homosexuality. Does he really believe that killing innocents and deliberately defying God’s gold standard on how life begins (sexuality) is less important than money matters? Jesus talked about a fate worse than millstones around their neck underwater for those who made little children stumble (Mt 18:6), but to the money changers in the temple he just upended their tables.

    The things that Jesus mentioned most of all were related to eternal ramifications. This world has a use-by date, and we need to be careful how much emphasis we place on matters that are transient – be they about being rich or poor – versus matters of life and death. Jesus said it best:
    “My kingdom is not of this world.” (Jn 18:36)
    “The poor you will always have with you.” (Mk 14:7 – derived from Deut 15:11)
    (as Joel pointed out above)
    Also when Jesus presents the parable of the talents (Mt 25:14-30), it clearly acknowledges the reality of inequalities in the world. It doesn’t mean we do nothing – far from it, especially given what follows! – but it means we understand the limitations of our personal impact. I found this quote on a blog post which puts it way better than I ever could:

    “When did Jesus press Herod or Pilate or Caesar to take care of the poor? In fact, he did not. He entrusted disciples (believers) with this responsibility. And He tells families to take care of their own. Name one thing the government does efficiently. Still thinking? The needs of the poor are best met by us directly, not through a government program.”

    The judgement of the Sheep and the Goats (which follows the parable above) is directed at all of us personally (Mt 25:31-46), not at who we vote for. If you distributed equal wealth to everybody on the planet, you would still have someone skewing the ‘social justice’ within seconds. Man-made ‘justice’ does not deal with our moral depravity, which we need eternal salvation from – a very real life issue. I always find it amazing that Jesus just puts in the throwaway line, “If you then, who are evil…” in amongst other teaching. (Mt 7:7-11)

    I do not think it moral high ground to think that children can be killed, (or that it can be taught that male and female are interchangeable) but somehow poverty and ‘social inequality’ is worse. Coming full circle with this thread, maybe a couple of quotes from Mother Teresa are appropriate:
    “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”
    “Any country that accepts abortion is the poorest of the poor.”

    If the new pope gets it on life matters, then this can only be a good thing for the world.

    Mark Rabich

  23. Nice to see how even-handed and loving towards their fellow Christians some of your bloggers are.
    I am a Catholic and would not wish to be anything else apart from Orthodox, as the only other possibility.
    I am also an old man and have heard much vitriol like this in my life, but did not expect it here.
    Cast your minds back to before the Reformation. Without the Catholic Church, none of your religions would exist.
    Des Connors

  24. Bill an excellent 2005 article on Pope Francis can be found if one searches for QUIET THUNDER IN ARGENTINA.
    Cranmer the conservative Anglican blogger also quotes the Anglican Archbishop of Argentina regarding the new Pope.

    Wayne Pelling

  25. Andrew, if you wanted to destroy a nation without firing a bullet or dropping a bomb, the easiest way would be to corrupt it from within: to destroy its soul. You would not do it by getting people to smoke, swear, covet their neighbours goods, to be greedy and envious, you would do it by corrupting and perverting the sexual morality of that nation. What charge, Andrew, is brought over and over against the Israelites? In case you are tempted invoke the homosexual take on Sodom, it was not lack of hospitality or greed; it was adultery, fornication and idolatry. [1]

    “In 1918, Georg Lukacs became deputy commissar for culture in the short-lived Bela Kun Bolshevik regime in Hungary. There, asking, “Who will save us from Western civilization?” he instituted what he called “cultural terrorism.” One of its main components was introducing sex education into Hungarian schools. Lukacs realized that if he could destroy the country’s traditional sexual morals, he would have taken a giant step toward destroying its traditional culture and Christian faith.” [2]

    And here we have the lesbian Rev Sharon Ferguson saying precisely what you would wish to obscure; and that is the main battle line for the gays is to destroy the sexual morality of the church. She boasts of the so-called LGBTs marching in the gay pride marches [3] and yet when we look at these marches, we see that they do not represent incense and candles and your average Sunday TV Songs of Praise programme. [4]

    [1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfwz02-1Bio&feature=related
    [2] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjaBpVzOohs
    [3] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asDJpXQCeec
    [4] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfwz02-1Bio&feature=related

    David Skinner, UK

  26. How refreshing, in this time of global greed, Enron scandals with their incenstuous relationships with Right Wing Govt officials to rely on the ‘magic of the markets’ as Pres. Reagan put it, we have a Pope who takes the humble name of ‘Francis’ There is hope yet. Markets dont have a conscience, and free market racketeers just add misery and slavery upon powerless people, Greed is Good is their ideology. God bless the new Pope, someone to look up to and respect. And he has a global voice. I was baptised a Lutheran!
    Angelika Volmensky

  27. Thanks Angelika

    But unfortunately you have enough bumper sticker clichés in your post to cover a small bus. Conservatives – whom you so passionately despise – are equally concerned about the poor. The question is, which system works best to actually help the poor: statism and socialism, or people allowed to make their own arrangements in a free economy. And history has already answered that question for us. You really need to stop reading all your radical leftist mags and sites, and get a bit more up to speed with political economy, and what has actually freed millions of people out of grinding poverty. It certainly was not the socialism you so love.

    By your uber-leftist reckoning, Pope Francis should be a gung-ho socialist supporting Latin American liberation theology. Sorry to disappoint, but the opposite is in fact the case – he fought it resolutely while in Argentina.

    I too applaud a modest and humble Pope who is content to do without so much ostentation. But it is most unlikely that you can claim him as a fellow lefty socialist.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  28. Angelika, I think you should take a handful of minutes to watch this video. Indeed, greed is bad, but the free market is actually the only thing that can temper it – growing government certainly doesn’t achieve anything but increasing the extent of poverty along with it. If you really hate poverty, the last thing you would do is decry the very economic system – for all its flaws – that has done more to alleviate poverty in human history.


    Mark Rabich

  29. Yeah, the free market is a good thing, the only solution to unnecessary poverty. What you’re criticizing Angelika is not free-market capitalism but big government corporatism, something all free market conservatives criticize. It’s a system where governments favour business over individuals rather than letting the marked decide. Unfortunately history and reason have shown that government intervention through welfarism and socialism has created unnecessary poverty in nation states. That’s why there was much less poverty in post-bellum United States prior to the creation in 1913 of the central banking Federal Reserve system, than after in the 21st century where there is lots of poverty in the United States despite great wealth. Socialism supports the transgressing of both the 8th and 10th commandments and is thus offensive to Yahweh. It also breeds injustice and unnecessary poverty which, if you read the book of Amos, you’ll find God’s heart on this!!

    Joel van der Horst

  30. Excellent piece on Pope Francis. Re his attitude to the poor and liberation theology, he strongly opposed the Marxist inspired liberation theology then fashionable among his fellow Jesuits. For this he was punished by the Js and sent out to teach chemistry out in the sticks. He was rescued by JP2 and made a bishop and then ultimately Archbishop of BA. I don’t think we have any reason to believe Pope Francis is a socialist. Everything about his past suggests the reverse. I think we can look forward to interesting times and should be slow to adversely judge him (as some have, not you Bill).

    Fr John Fleming

  31. I was encouraged when I heard that the new pope said that “unless we have a spiritual renewal, we are in danger of becoming a compassioned NGO.”.
    Andrew, how well do you know your bible? God is a Holy God. Holiness and purity are straight after grace and fith in the centre of our calling. Paul describes sexual sin as sin against the body. It is because the intimacy, exclusiveness and commitment of marriage is a direct picture of Christ and the church. It is impossible to fight poverty without first addressing its underlying causes, wrong ideologies, suppressive governments that stifle the individuals motivation for work and industry and so on.
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

  32. At church on the weekend our deacon chose one of the texts (Phil.ch.3 vv8-14) as the one to preach on. He spoke of how Paul came to recognise that seeking to justify himself by adherence to the law was fruitless: how after his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul came to understand that justification (the deacon’s word) comes through faith in Jesus and not from anything we can do of or for ourselves. He went on to discuss how Paul hoped and expected to take his place in the resurrection of the dead. He then discussed how we in our turn might decide to run our “race” as Paul described himself as still running his. This would be by knowing Christ and Him crucified, by taking up our cross and following Him, not to save ourselves but out of loving obedience and gratitude for the gift of our salvation. It was good teaching but I didn’t hear anything new or startling. I’ve been a practising Catholic all my life and I’ve never been taught anything different. Yes we’re with James on “Faith without works is dead” but I think Murray has some incredible ideas about Catholic teaching (though I have to concede, after this week’s Q&A, so do some Catholics!) Blessings on you Murray, I’ll pray for you and hope you do so for me too. May we meet some day in the presence of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to whom be glory and praise forever.

    Anna Cook

  33. Pope Francis may be a supporter of the URI – United Religions Initiative which was begun by Episcopal former Bishop Swing:

    “In 2007, URI – represented by Bishop Swing, Maria Eugenia Crespo and CC [Cooperation Circle] members – celebrated the 10th anniversary of our first meeting in the beautiful Metropolitan Cathedral in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

    Little did we know one of our esteemed participant and friend, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, would be named Pope just five years later! Felicitaciones, Papa Francis!”

    Any project of or association with Swing is not good or orthodox.

    Sibyl Smith

  34. PS – The use of the word Bishop in association with the Episcopal Church is cynical and sarcasm.

    Sibyl Smith

  35. Having just read the above comments, being away when the article was posted (and when I’m away, I’m away!), I would say that I am as concerned as anyone about what I see as the serious doctrinal errors of the Roman Catholic Church (and many other churches). What Bill is clearly saying is that on two or three vital social issues the new Pope is in agreement with biblical Protestants and it is in the interest of mankind that we support him in that.

    Abortion on demand and same-sex “marriage” are cancers eating our societies up and we must be thankful for co-belligerents whatever their views on other matters.

    As for disagreement on doctrine, both Catholics and Protestants can say the Nicene Creed without their fingers crossed, and that is a great start.

    David Morrison

  36. Having just read the above comments, being away when the article was posted (and when I’m away, I’m away!), I would say that I am as concerned as anyone about what I see as the serious doctrinal errors of the Protestant Churches. What Bill is clearly saying is that on two or three vital social issues some protestants are in agreement with Catholics and it is in the interest of mankind that we support them in that.

    Abortion on demand and same-sex “marriage” are cancers eating our societies up and we must be thankful for co-belligerents whatever their views on other matters.

    As for disagreement on doctrine, both Catholics and Protestants can say most of the Nicene Creed without their fingers crossed, and that is a great start.

    You see, David Morrison’s approach can just as easily be said. Actually, I completely agree with Bill’s approach. The sectarian way is not helpful. All baptized Christians belong to the Church and we have an awful lot in common, not least being a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. So let’s leave theological disagreement to other sites and agree to work together in the service of life and of natural marriage (among many other things).

    Father John Fleming

  37. David, well yes. Protestants have to say they believe in “one holy catholic and apostolic church” and I, for one, when I was a protestant, was never quite sure what that actually meant for a protestant. But since all baptised persons are members of the Catholic Church, and although we are in a state of impaired communion as between Catholics and the churches of the reformation, let’s just say “most”. But we should all remember that all baptised Christians are our brothers and sisters in Christ.
    Fr John Fleming

  38. Thanks for that John. For a moment I thought perhaps “filioque” was in doubt somewhere in the orthodox western church.

    I am Protestant, Catholic, Anglican, and Reformed (and apostolic)- at least I believe so. And I do respect (at least some of) the reasons why you left Anglicanism, as I understand them.

    But we’ve drifted a bit from the topic of Pope Francis!

    David Morrison

  39. Thank you Bill for that information as I haven’t really read much into the new pope. Its nice to know that he is against abortion and ssm. I’m not a Catholic but I will keep Pope Francis in my prayers.

    Holly Rose Beecham

  40. Thank you for all the comments I have had the pleasure of reading. I am reminded…again…that we are definitely in the end of time. It is running out for us all. Scripture is clear that all these things must come to pass and then the end. As harsh as these social issues are they will continue. In the mean time we to Love God and each other.
    Marilyn York

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