Thursday, January 01, 2015

fascinating how an emphasis on christian morality is greeted as "radical"...,

democracynow |  Given the sheer number of people who identify as Catholics worldwide, the pope’s clarion call to tackle climate change could reach far more people than even the largest environmental groups. Globally, there are 1.2 billion Catholics, of which around 75 million live here in the United States. The pope also plans to address the United Nations General Assembly and convene a summit of the world’s main religions in hopes of bolstering next year’s crucial U.N. climate summit in Paris.
Last year, during his first Christmas mass as head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis called for protection of the environment from human greed.
POPE FRANCIS: [translated] Lord of heaven and Earth, look upon our planet, frequently exploited by human greed and rapacity. Help and protect all of the victims of natural disasters, especially the beloved people of the Philippines gravely affected by the recent typhoon.
AMY GOODMAN: This year, Pope Francis shocked cardinals, bishops and priests by using his annual Christmas remarks to deliver a scathing critique of the Vatican itself, the central governing body of the Catholic Church. He said the Vatican is plagued with "spiritual Alzheimer’s," "existential schizophrenia," "social exhibitionism" and a lust for power—all of which have resulted in an "orchestra that plays out of tune," he said. Pope Francis also lambasted the gossip, pettiness and rivalry he said were infecting the church. This is part of what he said.
POPE FRANCIS: [translated] There is also the sickness of the stony mind and spirit, of those who have a stone heart and a hard neck, of those who along the way lose their inner serenity, their vivacity and their audacity, and end up hiding behind papers, becoming machines for practices and not men of God. It is dangerous to lose the human sensitivity that we need to cry with those who cry and to rejoice with those who rejoice.
AMY GOODMAN: Pope Francis has also captured global attention for his criticism of capitalism, his softer tone on key social issues including abortion and homosexuality, and his calls to refocus the church toward the needs of the poor. In his personal life, the pope has chosen to live simply at the Vatican, residing in a guest house instead of the Apostolic Palace, forgoing a chauffeured Mercedes in favor a plain black sedan.

He’s also made headlines for his everyday acts of extraordinary compassion. He invited a teenager with Down syndrome, Alberto di Tullio, for a ride in the Popemobile. He embraced and kissed Vinicio Riva, a man severely scarred by a genetic disease. And he washed a dozen prisoners’ feet at a jail for juveniles in Rome. The pope also responded to a letter from a rape survivor by personally calling to console her, saying, "You are not alone."

Most recently, the pope has emerged as a star diplomat, a key player in the thawing of relations between the Cuba government and the United States. Cuban President Raúl Castro thanked him for his support.
PRESIDENT RAÚL CASTRO: [translated] This decision by President Obama deserves respect and recognition from our people. I would like to thank and recognize the support of the Vatican, and especially that of Pope Francis, in helping improve the relations between Cuba and the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: Earlier this month, the pope offered to assist the United States with another diplomatic hurdle: its efforts to close Guantánamo prison. The Vatican has reportedly offered to help find adequate humanitarian solutions through its international contacts.