There it was, in plain print: the Pope making a statement that had to some extent ease the minds of those who wonder where, in the final analysis, he’ll take the Church, when it comes to the clergy.
During another one of those, yes, nearly impromptu press conferences aboard his plane, returning from a trip, he said that the ban on female priests was permanent — final — and had been settled back in the days of Saint John Paul II.
At least to this extent, it was a clear statement from a Pope whose statements perhaps could be described as sometimes amphibolous, perhaps due to a clipped syntax that translates poorly. Anyway, it was on his return from Sweden, where he commemorated the Reformation as a gesture toward reunification.
A few days later, the Holy Father was clear again, but this time waded — once more — into the nettles of political discourse. “Pope Francis delivered a powerful message Saturday in which he warned against ‘social walls’ and ‘false prophets’ fueling fear and intolerance in politics,” noted a network.
“While the Pope made no mention of Donald Trump, his comments at the Vatican have been widely seen as a thinly veiled stab at the Republican presidential candidate, whose proposal to build a wall between the United States and Mexico has been a centerpiece of his campaign.
‘No tyranny finds support without tapping into our fears,’ Francis said. ‘This is key. Hence, all tyranny is terrorist.'” (Last February Francis said that “a person who only thinks about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian” on the way back from Mexico.)
And so even the Supreme Pontiff, yes, has waded, ouch (the nettles), into an election that has captivated and even obsessed the world, an election that has gyrated, spun, been engulfed by darkness, scandal, and chaos, a vicious blood match, as the two candidates or their spouses have variously been accused of: scandal pay-offs, serial adultery, corrupt foundations, blatant lying, cheating, arrogant handling of classified information, pedophilia, rape, risque poses, prostitution, vulgar “locker room” language, occultism, fraud, bribery, tax-dodging, murder conspiracies, having or paying for abortions, and so forth, some charges provable, others perhaps outright slander (or what is now “politics”).
The descent into chaos (and the gutter) most recently has been demonstrated (the chaos part) by an FBI director who has swayed from one extreme to another in announcements far too close to election day and a candidate who appeared at a rally with a rapper and held hands high with him after the rapper used the “f,” “mother-f,” and “n” words before thousands at a rally.
Also present was a “superstar” singer who appeared almost naked with occult costuming during one of those degrading Super Bowl half-times.
Where are we, America — that we have politics like this: a tornado; or is it the whirlpool of a drain that leads to a cesspool?
We find out, soon enough, in what direction the U.S. is going. Are there rapids ahead, no matter which?
Hopefully both are not simply different branches of a river that ends at the same cataract.
It’s obvious which we think is the lesser danger.
Prayer need indeed.
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[Special Reports by Michael Brown]