Pope Francis I: Takes the Bus, Supports the Poor, A Stalwart Battler for Life, Traditional Marriage and Evangelization

Our new Holy Father chose to live in a simple apartment rather than the archbishop’s palace when he was Cardinal Bergoglio. He also cooked his own meals and took a bus to work instead of using his chauffeured limousine. 

This son of a railway worker has four brothers and sisters. He wanted to be a chemist and has a degree in chemistry. But God intervened in this plan and he entered the Society of Jesus instead. He is an intellectual who studied theology in Germany and who defended the poor in Argentina’s economic crises of a few years ago.

During the military junta in Argentina, Father Bergoglio worked in the position he had then as head of a seminary to oppose the so-called “liberation theology” and insist on what an article for the National Catholic Reporter called a more traditional reading of Ignatian spirituality, mandating that Jesuits continue to staff parishes and act as chaplains rather than moving into ‘base communities’ and political activism.

He is unwavering in his support of traditional Catholic teaching on abortion, same-sex marriage and contraception. At the same time, he has dealt compassionately with victims of HIV-AIDS, going so far as to visit a hospice and kiss and wash the feet of AIDS patients. In September 2012, he accused priests who refuse to baptize children born out of wedlock of a form of “rigorous and hypocritical neo-clericalism.”

Here are a few comments Pope Francis I has made:

  • Only someone who has encountered mercy, who has been caressed by the tenderness of mercy, is happy and comfortable with the Lord.” 
  • … if the Church remains closed in on itself, self-referential, it gets old. 
  • On the Unjust Distribution of Goods The unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to Heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many.
  • On baptizing children born out of wedlock In our ecclesiastical region there are priests who don’t baptize the children of single mothers because they weren’t conceived in the sanctity of marriage. These are today’s hypocrites. Those who clericalize the Church. Those who separate the people of God from salvation. And this poor girl, who, rather than returning the child to sender, had the courage to carry it into the world, must wander from parish to parish so that it’s baptized!
  • On Evangelization Jesus teaches us another way. Go out. Go out and share your testimony, go out and interact with your brothers, go out and share, go out and ask. Become the Word in body as well as spirit. 
  • On Abortion We should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence,’ that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated. The responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors and health professionals. 
  • On the death penalty We aren’t in agreement with the death penalty.
  • On gay marriage Let us not be naive, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.

For sources, check here, here, here and here.

Today is Worldwide AIDS Day

Today is World Aids Day.

HIV is a killer virus, which leads to a killer disease. It has taken the lives of millions of people around the globe, decimating whole communities in the Africa. Present-day medications have made being HIV positive or having AIDS a treatable condition. Rather than the sure killer that it was a generation ago, HIV has become for many people who have the virus a chronic condition.

That is not to make light of the virus or what it does to people. I have known a number of people who are HIV positive. I have also lost friends to AIDS. The virus is insidious and still quite deadly. It also leaves people who have it weakened and frail in a number of ways.

By far the best HIV treatment is to prevent becoming infected in the first place. For most people, this is simply a matter of living chaste lives and marrying people who have also led chaste lives. As simple as that sounds, today’s climate of almost universal sexual promiscuity can make it difficult. Even if you are chaste, if you marry someone who has been promiscuous, you expose yourself to whatever sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS that might infect them.

Sexual contact is not the only way to become infected with HIV. It is a disease that is carried in the blood, in semen, and other bodily fluids. Blood-to-blood transmission is by far the most sure way to contract the virus. That means that the drug culture’s propensity for sharing needles is another major disease vector for HIV.

The Church has been in the forefront of supporting and caring for people who are stricken with AIDS since the epidemic began in the 1980s. A few odd-ball preachers tried to use the virus as a means of attacking homosexuals, who were one of the groups that was hardest hit by infection. Most Christians, including me, were appalled by this. On the other hand, there are been RAIN teams and other ministries which speak the true Gospel message of love much more clearly. Every Catholic Charities affiliate in every diocese I know of has an active AIDS ministry.

Hopefully, we will find a vaccine which will prevent new infections. An actual cure may be in the future, as well. But for now, the best way to avoid becoming infected with this killer virus is to live a sane and healthy lifestyle of sexual chastity and no illicit drugs.

You can find more information about the Church’s ministries for HIV/AIDS victims here.