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Why Do You Hear "Congress," When the Pope Says "Church"?
Jim Wallis has written an article praising the new pope. He titled it: "Pope Francis: We Need You in Washington, D.C."
Wallis lives in Washington, D.C. So, I suppose "we" could mean residents of the city.
But is there something else about Washington, D.C. that would make the Pope's presence especially beneficial? Does Washington, D.C. have some special situation that makes its need more relevant than (say) Sheboygan, Wisconsin?
Wallis thinks so. Washington, D.C. is the seat of the federal government. There is enormous power in Washington, D.C. and Wallis has been working for 35 years to get his hands on it -- his hands, and his followers' hands. If you doubt me, click here.
This has hampered his ability to hear. When the Pope says "church," Wallis hears "Congress."
Let me demonstrate this. Wallis quoted a statement by the Pope.
"How are we treating the people of God? I dream of a church that is a mother and shepherdess. The church's ministers must be merciful, take responsibility for the people and accompany them like the good Samaritan, who washes, cleans and raises up his neighbor. This is pure Gospel. God is greater than sin. The structural and organizational reforms are secondary--that is, they come afterward. The first reform must be the attitude. The ministers of the Gospel must be people who can warm the hearts of the people, who walk through the dark night with them, who know how to dialogue and to descend themselves into their people's night, into the darkness, but without getting lost. The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials. The bishops, particularly, must be able to support the movements of God among their people with patience, so that no one is left behind……In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy."
"The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials." I find that deeply inspirational.
This is why I have difficulty understanding Wallis' equal degree of inspiration. Wallis commented on what the Pope's word means to him.
Is there a word that more needs to be heard in Washington today than that one? I couldn't think of any.
The indifference of last week's House vote to cutting food stamps is still weighing on me.
What, exactly, have the Pope's words got to do with the House's political decision to cut payments for food stamps?
What has Congress got to do with the church -- other than to try to get votes from church members?
But that is the whole point for Wallis. Wallis has spent his entire career trying to get Congress to vote for welfare state programs that use government coercion to extract money from groups that Wallis disapproves of, all in the name of Jesus, in order to give to Wallis' preferred voting blocs. He has committed his life to his version of the Mosaic law against theft: "Thou shalt not steal, except by majority vote."
So, when the Pope says "church," Wallis hears "Congress."
What do you hear?