How Do You Solve A Problem Like Pope Francis?

27 Nov

pope-francis_2541160bWell, I suspect the gates of Hell are now freezing over. For those of you who read this blog, you know I am not a religious person. Never did I think I would be actually praising the Catholic Pope, but alas I am.  Today, Pope Francis actually said that Capitalism is “a new tyranny,” and he also managed to dismantle the ever present Reagan myth of “trickle down economics.” Is it possible the Catholic Church may be moving to a model of social justice and abandoning a platform of hate that has been in place for the past 40 years?

It is difficult for me not to think about the classism and avarice demonstrated by John Boehner, Ted Cruz, and the rest of the Teahaddists when I hear Pope Francis say:

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded.We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.

Not only does he address poverty and how we treat humans as “consumer goods” but he addresses the systemic root problem which we call Capitalism. When I first read his comments, I thought he was talking about The Hunger Games, and in a way he is. The top 20% live off the remaining 80% and they watch us as we fight for any scraps available and mock us for needing social services because not everyone makes a living wage, not everyone has health insurance.

We are approaching the Thanksgiving Holiday; how many millions of families will be struggling now to put food on the table? Thanks for cutting food stamps just in time for the holidays!  The entire apostolic exhortation is really quite wonderful and if you have the time, I encourage you to read at least the first 25 pages.

Sadly, as wonderful as this movement towards social justice is, it left me wanting more. While he addresses poverty and the causes of poverty, he does not seem to be able to understand fully who is impacted and the intersections of oppression – -those oppressed by intersecting identities of gender, race, ability, and sexual orientation. I was hoping for a call to action to stand with all targeted populations and understand that poverty disproportionately affects people of color, LGBT people, and women, so one can imagine how one might be affected by poverty if one is a black lesbian, or Latina transgender woman.

Again, I give full kudos to the Pope’s address here, but when will “the voice of God” talk about women being able to govern their own bodies? Eradicating homophobia and racism? When does the church say: “All are welcome regardless and ever regardful?”


30 Responses to “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Pope Francis?”

  1. Dr. Rex November 27, 2013 at 5:40 am #

    Excellent post! Reblogging! I was raised catholic …. Not anymore. Didn’t care about the popes. Seems this one IS different. TY

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 27, 2013 at 5:49 am #

      Dr. Rex, thank you for your kindness, support, and voice for social justice. Thank you also for reflagging this article. Francis seems to be a complex man.

  2. Dr. Rex November 27, 2013 at 5:41 am #

    Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Excellent report!!

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 27, 2013 at 5:50 am #

      Dr. Rex, let us hope he continues to evolve and truly embraces all aspects of social justice.

      • Dr. Rex November 27, 2013 at 7:54 am #

        Sure hope so!!! Keep me posted. TY

  3. michelinewalker November 27, 2013 at 5:48 am #

    This new Pope is a great man. He is more tolerant and understanding. I like the fact that little sins are not very important to humanking, but that we must live in peace. He’s a man who understands Jesus of Nazareth main message: unconditional love…
    Thank you.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 27, 2013 at 5:53 am #

      Micheline, thank you for your comments here. Pope Francis seems to be creating the space needed to celebrate all humans, but I am not wholly convinced yet. We shall see.

      • michelinewalker November 27, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

        Let’s hope he is. We need to go back to the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, a Jew who lived in Palestine. He never wrote a word, but he taught unconditional love, forgiveness, charity… As an institution, Christianity has not fared well. It was not founded by Jesus Christ.

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 27, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

        Micheline, thank you for your voice of social justice!! Yes, let us hope that all communities, all humans, regardless of respective faiths, or non faiths can join together to celebrate and care for humanity.

  4. Goldie Lowry November 27, 2013 at 6:20 am #

    This brought tears to my eyes my friend. Such eloquence, such heart, all of it so true. Reconnecting with you is one my greatest blessings this season.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 27, 2013 at 6:25 am #

      Goldie, it is a great gift being reconnected with you. Let us hope Francis will now be a person of action and continue to evolve. With your permission, I would love to interview you and publish your journey, Goldie. Sending you lots of love, Michael.

  5. Gary Hollander November 27, 2013 at 6:43 am #

    Hi, Michael. As usual I read this post with interest and appreciation. Among other things, I appreciate your respectful persistence in addressing the problems of leaders in faith traditions. I confess I am less patient.

    Yesterday on FB, I posted this in response to the Pope’s pronouncements on capitalism and greed:

    I may eventually eat crow on this one, but in my experience of 65 years all the popes save one have disappointed quite a bit. If this guy wants to win my heart he will need to do the following (sorry for the high bar, folks):
    1. Apologize for the past 2000 years
    2. Acknowledge science
    3. Accept that sin is made up — not big, not little, just made up
    4. Announce that there is no such thing as infallibility, his or anyone’s
    5. Arrange a meeting of all religious leaders from every group, pool their assets, and give these all away
    6. Applaud us all for putting up with all the BS based on a phrase about being Peter and a rock on which a church was to be built — he is in charge of things because people let him be. He has no more right to that throne in Rome than Queen Elizabeth does to hers in Canada, Australia, or elsewhere.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 27, 2013 at 7:11 am #

      Gary, wow! I can only applaud you here and express my deep thanks for this very thoughtful comment. I support fully all of the bullet points you have outlined. There needs to be a great deal of repair done, which should be a call to action from Francis and his flock. With gratitude, Michael.

  6. Central Oregon Coast NOW November 27, 2013 at 8:57 am #

    Reblogged this on Central Oregon Coast NOW.

  7. pepaulmier November 27, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

    Strangely enough I was discussing the ingenious of the new Pope with friends and family. I think this Pope will make some great changes to society and the way we have been thinking for so many centuries. Excellent Blog

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 27, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

      Thank you for the kind comments about the blog. I hope the new Pope will demonstrate action and courage and stand in solidarity with all those that are marginalized.

  8. dykewriter November 28, 2013 at 8:37 am #

    assassination usually is what happens

  9. dykewriter November 28, 2013 at 8:37 am #

    we should not trust him

    he is still the head pedo priest and they are not sharing their hoarded and illgotten wealth

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 28, 2013 at 9:05 am #

      Nina, the weight of history certainly tells us not to trust the church or Pope. I am trying to create a bit of space that perhaps there may be a bit of movement in the right direction for celebrating humanity.

      • dykewriter November 28, 2013 at 10:41 am #

        without accountability

        there is no hope for humanity

  10. petrel41 November 30, 2013 at 1:32 am #


    I have nominated your blog for the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award.

    More about this nomination is at

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 30, 2013 at 7:22 am #

      Thank you so very much for the nomination for this blog award. I shall read the link and thank you again.

      • petrel41 November 30, 2013 at 8:39 am #

        Well deserved 🙂 All the best for you and yiour blog!

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 30, 2013 at 8:43 am #

        Thank you so very much! I feel very honored and very fortunate!

  11. Dr. Rex December 3, 2013 at 9:35 pm #

    On another note … Please, accept this:

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 4, 2013 at 6:12 am #

      Dr. Rex, thank you so very much for nominating me for this award. I am very honored. Of course, I will be adding your blog to my Links section. Thank you also for your voice for social justice.

      • Dr. Rex December 4, 2013 at 9:18 am #

        Thank you Michael. That would b an honor for me.
        Wow! Impressed that you would consider that. TY … 🌻

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 4, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

        Of course! I shall have my Links page updated by this weekend. You are a treasure, Dr. Rex.

      • Dr. Rex December 4, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

        Thank you, Michael …. this means a lot to me!!

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