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Pagans and Pope Francis - Against

Pagans & Pope Francis

By Silverspear

In an uncertain world currently plagued by ecological problems, many individuals applaud the stance that Pope Francis has recently taken on the issue of climate change. In highlighting the negative and destructive effects our planet is experiencing, Pope Francis is being hailed by many as a beacon of hope for the human race. Some of that praise is actually emerging from the pagan community and illustrates the innate tolerance and open-mindedness of many pagans. That is something to be proud of. Or is it?

Tolerance and acceptance is certainly laudable and a hallmark of intelligent and freethinking people today. But one must be careful to distinguish between tolerance and naivety. There are times when discernment serves us better. For example, Vatican rhetoric might be what pagans long to hear, but the Pope's ecological and well-meaning musings might not necessarily translate into any long-term practical solutions. There are reasons to be sceptical and to suspect that what we are hearing is little more than good PR.

First of all, let us not underestimate the Vatican; it has had a very long time to hone its survival skills. Current estimates as to its wealth, which tends to be shrouded in secrecy, are between 10 - 15 billion dollars, possibly much more, so no sign of impending decline there after two thousand years. Within that time span many secular empires have risen and fallen - but the Church of Rome has never faltered in maintaining its dominance and power over a large portion of the world. Once upon a time the Vatican achieved this by ruthlessly crushing any opposition considered a threat to its assumed God-given mandate.

In more modern times the Vatican has learned to maintain its power by employing chameleon-like skills. On the one hand it embraces modernity when it is expedient, but on the other hand still clings to outmoded and ultra-conservative values, such as inequality for women, including a blanket ban on birth control. Some have cynically speculated that the real reason why contraception remains anathema to Rome is because breeding more Catholics replenishes the Church's numbers more easily than proselytising for new converts.

Secondly, Pope Francis's recent use of the term 'pagan' when referring to those who are merely nominally Christian was more than ill advised; it was ignorant and insulting. This is what he said:

'We must be careful not to slip into the way of pagan Christians - these are the ones who are pagans painted over with two brush strokes of Christianity, so they look like Christians, but are really pagans'.

Some might charitably argue that Pope Francis was merely using the term 'pagan' poetically - a sort of Shakespearian-style anachronism gleaned from history for dramatic effect. If that were the case, then one could easily overlook his choice of terminology. However, the use of the term 'pagan' by the Pope clearly betrayed a lack of knowledge and respect for modern paganism. Did Pope Francis give any consideration as to how his choice of term would be received by the thousands of modern and decent pagans the world over who proudly regard paganism as a legitimate spiritual path, and one which has much to offer? Clearly not - unless the Pope deliberately set out to offend! On the other hand, the Pope might be so far out of touch with the modern world that he is entirely unaware of pagan spirituality.

In the final analysis, does the Pope have any real credibility on ecological matters? After all, he speaks in lofty terms about the Earth being 'Sister' and 'Mother', and how we must look after the planet as God's gift. However, a careful examination of the Pope's choice of language is a good indicator to his position. Pagans might question, for example, the Pope's assumption that the Earth is a 'gift'; a gift is simply an object in the hands of a possessor, and objects can be used and cherished - or abused and disposed of. The Pope is clearly not singing from the same song sheet as pagans, who regard the Earth as much more than a gift; the earth is sacred and humans are an integral part of Her, rather than merely 'owners' or 'stewards'.

Pope Francis also seems to quote the bible a lot, particularly biblical references to human greed and attachment to wealth. In view of the immense wealth of the Vatican, much of it gleaned nowadays from investments in multi-national companies concerned more about profit than pollution, are the Pope's words worthy of serious consideration? Only you can decide. The bible, however, also stresses the importance of discernment, and states that the Devil is able to transform himself into an Angel of Light to fool the Faithful.

The final book of the bible, Revelation, which focuses on prophecy, also warns against being seduced by the great city Babylon that reigns over the kings of the world: 'Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls. For in one hour so great riches is come to nought ' [Rev. 18: 16-17]. Interestingly, purple, scarlet and gold is a prominent feature of the ecclesiastical colours of Rome.

As to whether modern pagans, however, attach any credence or not to biblical prophecies is beside the point, the fact is that the early Christians believed a time would come when a counterfeit form of Jesus' teachings would dominate the world. Over the centuries many have pointed the finger of suspicion at the Vatican as being the Babylon of Revelation - and clearly with some reason, as history has undoubtedly revealed.