Pope Francis and Speaker Boehner

Is it a coincidence that Speaker John Boehner announced his resignation the morning after his invited guest, Pope Francis, spoke to a joint session of Congress?

Pope Francis and John Boehner - Joint Session of Congress

Pope Francis and John Boehner – Joint Session of Congress

Before his address to Congress yesterday Pope Francis turned to the two former altar boys behind him on the dais.  He looked quickly at Vice President Joe Biden; he looked much longer into the eyes of his host, Speaker John Boehner. It was warm but it also seemed like something else – a moment between a priest and penitent?

The Speaker wiped his eyes, as any faithful Catholic would be prone to do.  He cried, as he often does, but this time as if to ask in humility, “Who am I, John Boehner, a mere altar boy, to share this powerful platform with the Holy Father? I am not worthy that you should come under my roof.”

One had to ponder Mr. Boehner’s inner turmoil listening to the Pope’s words gently reprimand leaders who forget the Golden Rule, push aside the poor, ignore or criminalize immigrants and migrants, prefer aggression to dialogue, ignore the common good for private gain, put people on death row, and refuse to act responsibly on climate change.

What do you do sitting behind the Pope?

You take out your handkerchief at the great privilege of hosting the Pontiff and the honor of being in his presence, but perhaps also because you recognize the prevalence of sin, as in Francis’ quotation from Thomas Merton (see quotation below) or his choice of the socialist Dorothy Day of the Catholic Worker Movement as one of four Americans to emulate.  And, if you haven’t already done so in your private time with the merciful Pope Francis, you might go to confession, repent, and do penance.

This morning John Boehner announced his resignation as Speaker of the House at the end of October. Preparing to speak to the United Nations in New York, one can imagine Pope Francis blessing John while lamenting Boehner’s colleagues’ loud cheering, wondering whether anyone but Joe and Johnny was paying attention the day before.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Sept. 25, 2015

Quote from Pope Francis commendation of Thomas Merton as an American example to follow:

A century ago, at the beginning of the Great War, which Pope Benedict XV termed a “pointless slaughter”, another notable American was born: the Cistercian monk Thomas Merton. He remains a source of spiritual inspiration and a guide for many people. In his autobiography he wrote: “I came into the world. Free by nature, in the image of God, I was nevertheless the prisoner of my own violence and my own selfishness, in the image of the world into which I was born. That world was the picture of Hell, full of men like myself, loving God, and yet hating him; born to love him, living instead in fear of hopeless self-contradictory hungers”. Merton was above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church. He was also a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between peoples and religions.

[Bold print added for emphasis by Views from the Edge]

Do unto others…

It’s not often we follow up of Steve’s poems. But today’s post (“Verse – Indiana”) on Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) merits further comment on Holy Saturday.

some so-called Christians change the
Golden Rule:
Do unto others what hate did to you.

Steve and I are both Presbyterian ministers. We’re Protestants. We’re not proud of it; it’s just who we are. At this point in his life, Steve restricts his social commentary to poems and verses.

Here are the earlier stanzas of of “Indiana” that succinctly set the Indiana religious Freedom Restoration Act in its ironic historical context:

To America came the Protestants.
In England they could not live
as they would.
They were despised by ruling residents
and fled to freely worship their own God.

Conservatives want to preserve the past,
forgetting which side they were on…
They now
discriminate against those who resist
and say, “To your beliefs we will not bow.”

Tomorrow Steve will celebrate Easter in Illinois. I will celebrate Easter in Minnesota. The symbol of the stone rolled away will be front and center. There can be no hate at the empty tomb. Governor Pence and legislators, pay close attention. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” It’s hard to believe they didn’t know what they were doing, but in the sense in which the prayer from the cross was uttered, they really didn’t know`1.