Monday, April 21, 2008

He should have thrown out the first pitch.

The Pope has concluded his first journey to the USA. I don't think its too much to reveal that I am a catholic, born and raised. I even spent 12 years in catholic private school. Yet, I felt no special passion or even particular interest in the papal visit. Clearly this wasn't the case for the hundreds of thousands that clamored to see his holiness. This Catholic wasn't one of them. People see the Pope or any religious leader for myriad reasons. I don't mean to attack anyone's faith, or the Pope in particular. However, its not what I knew the Pope would say that kept me away, its what I knew he wouldn't say. He apologized for the child-abuse scandal that rocked the church here in the US, which was to be expected. He reminded us of the catholic belief that life begins at conception and we need to fight abortion. He even called for the catholic faith to take a role in our public decision making. But what did he not say? He didn't set an agenda for how catholics, American or otherwise, can actually effect positive change in the world. He didn't ask catholics to help stamp out AIDS in Africa, or combat hunger (say reducing worldwide hunger by 50% by 2030). He essentially fought against the turning tide of American culture and told catholics to keep the faith. But this is not an ultimately positive message. An affirmative message is about things that can and should be done. The Pope had a chance this week to challenge American catholics to make the world a better place, and set concrete goals to do so. Instead he told we should try to prevent wars and protect unborn babies. He could have said that from the Vatican and saved a flight and a few traffic jams.

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