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(RNS1-sept11) Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Wednesday, Sept. 11. For use with RNS-POPE-ATHEISTS, transmitted on Septmember 11, 2013, Photo by Paul Haring/Catholic News Service.

The pope shouldn’t have to defend “slum priests”

RNS-POPE-ATHEISTI find it interesting that a catholic pope might feel as if he needs to defend his position in honoring priests that serve the poor. I know a little of the church history which in a nutshell, in my mind, is that during the first three centuries of the Christian church, the converts were mostly the poor and became outcasts if their affiliation was found out. It all changed in the third century when first Constantine legally recognized, and then later, Theodosius I made Christianity the state religion of Rome. Thus began the Christian affiliation with the state and power — creating what could arguably be the wealthiest enterprise in the world.

Now comes the ‘rub’: what really were Jesus-the-Christ’s teachings? Did he affiliate with the rich, famous, and powerful to broker his power over the Middle East? Or was he an itinerant teacher who brought a whole new message to the Jewish world of his day? And is his message alive today? I know Eric Blauer, and other Christian ministers I know, have a very personal relationship with the Jesus of their belief and they serve the poor of our community, and I honor them for this. I also know that the ecumenical movement of the past have done and are currently doing some truly powerful work with the poor and disenfranchised within the community.

So why should Pope Francis have to defend his roots? Have we come to expect churches, and therefore their leaders, to be major political powerbrokers having to curry the favor of politicians and/or create a system wherein the political leaders are forced to curry the favor of the religious leaders?  Unless I am mistaken, it was this very power brokering that was at the root of Martin Luther’s treatise and the foundation of the great religious protest of his time.

I find this an interesting question as the Christian world comes up on the celebration of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus-the-Christ.

 

About Joe Niemiec

The Rev. Joe Niemiec Jr. began his spiritual quest in 1986 when he walked out of a Houston jail and was struck by the realization that his life was in shambles.

He began his quest for ‘getting back on track’ with 12 step programs, followed by learning and practicing meditation with a local Redding, California, teacher.

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