Straws in the Wind of the Holy Spirit

Exhibit A: A reader with connections to folks in mainline Protestantism writes:

I just wanted to pass a note along to report on activities from across the Tiber. My friends are a twitter about Pope Francis’ exhortation. Seriously. Here in the Godless hinterlands, nearly all of them had read it. These are people who fit a lot of the catholic caricatures of lib Prots right down to the card carrying NARAL members who drive Priuses (Prii? WTF is the proper plural of Prius anyway?).

Anyway, they love it. They are eating it up with a spoon. And not just the social justicey parts: they had a good discussion about how to approach the gospel and evangelism with joy. Like honest to God Jesus talk which can seem rare as hens teeth.

I get angry at irrational-Francis-haters because they just refuse to see the good fruits being born by this pontificate. I have had to hide/unfriendly several people I really respected for their OMG THE CHURCH AS WE KNOW IT IS BEING DESTROYED malarkey. Protestant clergy are emailing me to either tell me they are so excited to hear what this Pope has to say or that they have been inspired by Francis to do more in their own ministries. WHERE ELSE IN HISTORY HAS THIS HAPPENED? Seriously. WHAT IS THE DOWNSIDE HERE?

Exhibit B, over at the Register blog defending Francis from FOX’s attack, a reader writes:

The remarkable number of commenters who openly admit they didn’t read the essay and then condemn it. Whew! I’m not a Catholic but I’ve been following the news of the Pope with great interest. I’ve been schooled here. This is so very useful in so many ways, I’ll most likely count it as one, among a precious few writings, of the opinions that helped me reconnect with my conservative soul. That’s a leap for an atheist. I’m in debt to the author and many thoughtful commenters.

Fascinating to watch Francis crossing lines and planting seeds. Anybody who thinks the guy is not operating from an intensely missionary impulse has no idea what’s going on.

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  • Brian Niemeier

    “‘WTF is the proper plural of Prius anyway?’”
    Golf carts.

    • Spastic Hedgehog

      Well played, sir.

  • Charles Ryder

    “Protestant clergy are emailing me to either tell me they are so excited to hear what this Pope has to say or that they have been inspired by Francis to do more in their own ministries. WHERE ELSE IN HISTORY HAS THIS HAPPENED? Seriously.”

    Well, in 1980 Billy Graham called Pope JPII “the greatest religious leader of the modern world, and one of the greatest moral and spiritual leaders of this century”. Jerry Falwell “lauded Pope John Paul II as the best hope we Baptists ever had.” Kathryn Kuhlman said that when she met Pope Paul VI “there was a Oneness.” I could go on with a list of names of Protestants who had kind things to say about recent popes. Granted, these are not liberal Protestants and they may not be people that we take a particular shine to, but they do show that Francis is not the first pope to win the admiration of our separated brethren.

    • Dave G.

      In my pre-Catholic days, I used to say if I wanted to hear how much John Paul II sucked, I went to liberal Catholics. Most Protestants I knew (including some more moderate leaning ones) admired him. Though hardcore mainline clergy I knew held him at arm’s length. Heck, I even knew a KJV only fundamentalist Baptist minister who conceded that JPII might actually go to heaven. Big stuff!

      Now, of course, those who were the most critical of JPII (and perhaps Benedict, but I didn’t pay attention), are the ones acting shocked that anyone would criticize the Pope. Meanwhile, those who were the biggest fans of JPII are, in many cases, the ones being the most critical of Francis.

      Of course you have those who will always critique any pope, and you have those who will simply declare Pope [fill in the name of the latest pope] to be the greatest example of greatness in the great history of defining greatness.

      On the whole, not much has changed over the course of three popes if you get right down to it. As usual, you just shift around the name tags.

      • chezami

        Or there are some of us who think all three of them were and are enormous gifts to the Church.

        • Dave G.

          That would be group four. ;)

    • Rosemarie


      Many Protestants liked Pope John XXIII, too.

    • Sarx Discuss

      Charles, good points all. For some folks, Francis exists only to say how awful his predecessors were.

      Best to Sebastian!

      • Charles Ryder

        Why do you think “Charles Ryder” is a pen name? My good friend Rex Mottram can vouch for me!

        • Sarx Discuss

          All right then, I’ll get an annulment. What does it cost? Who do I get it from? Has Father Mowbray got one?

  • AMoniqueOcampo

    He’s a Jesuit. It comes with the territory.

  • jaybird1951

    I get a little tired of hearing Mark and some of those he links to saying that FOX News has attacked Pope Francis. The network has done no such thing unless proof can be provided that the network leadership ordered an attack on him. A couple of individuals on the network or its web site expressed criticism of some of his economic comments. That does not constitute an attack by the network itself.

  • The Deuce

    I had some misgivings about the guy at first, after those first two interviews came out, but they’ve been pretty much quelled. I really admire him now.

  • Eve Fisher

    It’s been interesting to hear the apparent fear in some circles that Protestants like the Pope. I’m wondering if it isn’t a little of the laborers in the vineyard – Matthew 20:1-16 – where the guys who’ve been out in the vineyard from sunup are scared to death that someone (Protestants? Atheists?) might come in (be converted) at the last minute and get the same wage…

    • Dave G.

      I don’t think they’re ‘scared that Protestants might be converted.’ They’re worried that the Protestants from more progressive denominations, and Catholics with a more liberal tendency, who seem to have suddenly warmed up to Francis when many had been highly critical of popes like JPII, could be right. I don’t think they are. But that seems to be the concern.

      • Eve Fisher

        Glad to hear it. Well, not glad to hear that people are afraid of something. But I’d rather this than that they be afraid that someone might actually join an exclusive spiritual club. This “club” mentality is in a lot of tightly-knit groups, by the way – I do not mean any exclusive attack – or any attack at all – on Catholicism by this. Sadly, ultra-fundies of every bent have a tendency to see an opening of the doors as a lessening of their value. A reverse Groucho Marx – “I wouldn’t belong to any club that would have those people as a member.”

        • Dave G.

          It’s nothing new. Again, in my own Protestant days, if I wanted to hear how bad JPII was, I talked to progressive minded Catholics and mainline Protestants. Not sure about Benedict. Now, it’s opposite. Many, of course, seem to think Francis is going to usher in the era of Truth (liberalism). I think they’re wrong. I don’t think he’s right/left or blue/red. But right now, he has struck out more strongly against those things associated with more conservative passions, and has tended to open his arms, or at least show tolerance and understanding, to those things often seen as more progressive. Hence the fears and the joys, however misplaced they may be.

      • Rosemarie


        Or just that progressives will gain the upper hand under this papacy, even if they’re not right.

  • Rosemarie


    In related news, the Vatican confirms that Pope Francis has not “abolished sin”:

    (Yeah, I know it’s stating the obvious but it’s necessary because Scalfari is making that silly claim and causing more trouble for the Holy Father.)