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About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

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The Cleric and the clerk*

Uploaded: Oct 5, 2015

One measure of Pope Francis' remarkable appeal is that everybody wants him on 'their side.' If we were making-up teams in gym class, he'd always be The Chosen One – never languishing among The Unpicked.

So it is that when he mentioned the sanctity of life during his congressional speech, Righties were all set to applaud his impending pro-life stance in the abortion stalemate. And when he veered-off instead into stating his death penalty opposition, the Left was thrilled and relieved. That under-anticipated juxtaposition was clearly no accident. Francis loves to surprise us – and challenge our comfortable preconceptions.

For while this Pontiff is most clearly a change agent for an institution and a world that both desperately need one, he deals much more in Process than in Outcomes. He wants to provoke both introspection within his audiences, and dialogue among them. So it is that he has called for emphases on inclusion, informality and on Christianity's first principles, and less attention to judgment, pomp, condemnation and doctrinal text.

Thus, the Pope's canny decision to meet with county clerk Kim Davis was clearly a shock to many on my side of the spectrum, but it was just as clearly no accident – nor was its private nature and lack of forewarning. Imagine the furor and spectacle if that audience had been announced, or held in public -- demonstrations and counter-demonstrations up and down the street, forever.

Since I started on this edition a few days ago, two more factoids have been revealed – the Davis visit was probably arranged by an underling with an anti-gay axe to grind, and the Pontiff almost met with a least one openly gay parishioner. That said, I still believe this action was very much in character.

First, matters of religious freedom are very much on his mind. There is an obvious tension between it and the conception of civic duty, dealt-with in an earlier column. While the specifics of the Pope's concerns have more to do with required free contraception under the ACA, Ms. Davis is clearly acting on a matter of religious conviction – regardless of how misplaced her priorities might appear to many/most of us. Highspotting a related issue seems directionally, philosophically consistent.

Second, the Catholic Church's implacable opposition to gay marriage is served by the interaction. Family matters are very much front and center, and the ecclesiastical definition thereof still has more to do with biology than with emotional kinship and caring acceptance. So be it, I guess – Francis has also indicated that he is generally less concerned with dogma than with ministering, and his church will be eternally slow to embrace change in this regard, anyway.

Third, and apropos of said ministry, Ms. Davis and her well-documented marital and liturgical wanderings clearly represent a soul in some evolution and torment. If a Papal meeting might lend solace in such circumstances, I believe that Francis would consider it an excellent use of his time and attention. It would be coldly judgmental to condemn her as beyond redemption, or undeserving of comfort. A Pope who washes the feet of convicts has a much warmer heartbeat than that.

Finally, this is a man who is calling on us – of every political, philosophical and (dare I say it?) religious stripe -- to put down our swords and our shields, our crosses and scimitars, and come together to reason and relate in peaceful ways. Even if he opposes her staunch obstructionism and its basis – and her absolutist failure to render unto Caesar – Francis stands for reconciliation among people of goodwill. That value transcends those philosophical differences and defines his papacy. Identifying too strongly with any particular approach to the world undermines that theme and papal teaching.

I doubt that the 'Davis incident' will be the last time this Pontiff will surprise and dismay partisans seeking to claim him as their own. Therein lies its message. And, having been so forced to cogitate on it a bit, I'll say 'amen' to that.

* Title chosen carefully. Various ‘rhymes with Pope’ were available, and left among The Unpicked.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Me, a resident of Valley Trails,
on Oct 5, 2015 at 8:06 am

I'm not catholic. I'm a follower of Jesus Christ, and I find it very sad that the pope made no mention of Jesus christ, but made political comments about global warming. I hope he asks for mercy and repents

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Oct 5, 2015 at 8:38 am

il papa mentioned "Jesus" in Spanish. Do you speak or understand Spanish?

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Oct 5, 2015 at 9:25 am

I'm not concerned that il papa met with Ms. Davis.
I don't believe that Davis is an evil individual and seriously doubt that anybody has been deeply harmed by her actions?

I support obeying the law of the land but Americans do have a right to protest. I find the actual protest very interesting.

I've been thinking about getting a license to marry folks. I'd keep the ceremony very short and say're me!

Who cares if folks get divorced, there's money to be talks!

Posted by BobB, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Oct 5, 2015 at 10:32 am

Is this a forum for the mentally ill?

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of another community,
on Oct 5, 2015 at 6:08 pm

Sometimes. But those commenters often leave, one way or t'other. Add your thoughts on the blog?

Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Oct 6, 2015 at 12:20 am

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

I don't get BobB's question. Who is he implying is mentally ill based on your blog or their comments? I also don't get why he got 13 likes for it so far. That bothers me much more than his question.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of another community,
on Oct 6, 2015 at 6:16 am

Roz -- lest we head out on another meta-thread, BB has commented here before -- sometimes in support of the blog theme (which is why I recall those precious gems). So I take the liberty of concluding that he's editorializing on the earlier comments. Perhaps he'll come by and elaborate?

Posted by BobB, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Oct 6, 2015 at 9:46 am

I was just responding to the first and third comments.

Posted by Farmer Dave, a resident of another community,
on Oct 6, 2015 at 10:54 am

Farmer Dave is a registered user.


I'm not Catholic either. But to me the Pope's comment was apolitical.

He simply stated that global warming is real and humans are contributing to the problem (scientific fact). He said that God put the earth in our trust, and it is up to us to care for it.

How is that political?

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Oct 6, 2015 at 1:54 pm

I've never believed that I was born a sinner. And, my parents never told me that I was born a sinner...strange-ola! I've heard lots of Christians talk about being born sinners...I don't get it?

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Oct 6, 2015 at 4:13 pm

BobB: Jews of Argentina - Web Link

As a Jew, I have a responsibility to educate you about the Jews of Argentina.

Hope you enjoy the reading!

Posted by BobB, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Oct 6, 2015 at 7:31 pm

And here's something for your education Cholo. Please enjoy!

Web Link

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Oct 8, 2015 at 9:44 am

BobB: Web Link He pops up all over London!

There's also a wonderful video of an actor reciting Hamlet in Yiddish! That is FANTASTIC!

over 'n out...won't keep taking up all of Tom's space...Cholo

Posted by Pololo Mololo, a resident of Livermore,
on Oct 8, 2015 at 10:06 am

Hamlet in Yiddish:

Web Link

i just didn't have it in me to resist posting...

Posted by Condoms Prevent Abortions, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Oct 8, 2015 at 6:52 pm

I'm not a catholic, but did and do 'like' this pope. However, as the entire tour continued, I sensed he clearly did not 'understand' America's 'freedom' principle, nor our form of capitalism, which has provided more for the world than any government ever in this world. He was clearly blessing the children and mothers who had them, to care for them of not.
IF Pope Francis was really concerned about 'climate', he would have actually mentioned breeding with personal 'responsibility' and concern for mother earth. The catholic 'church' started the contraception taboo, to grow the flock (captive members), in recent times. since contraception was not around in 'biblical' times, when they did not even understand bodies or medical science. 'Respecting' lives and wanting to prevent children born 'into poverty', living without food, clothes, nor medical. It does seem he would have gone for 'quality' of life, over church membership. Instead, he looked to US to fund that IRresponsibility, disrespecting our own limits, issues, form of government, and not fully acknowledging all that we DO provide for the world. He preached monetary 'responsibility' to US, but did not preach personal breeding 'responsibility' to the other countries and families in poverty. I had so liked his 'breeding like rabbits' comment and had assumed he would address that issue.
Nice guy, but I didn't respect him as much leaving and when arriving.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Oct 8, 2015 at 7:21 pm

Generally, condoms do the job but NOT always.

I don't dislike il papa but he's known to push for more babies. I strongly support a woman's choice.

Yes to the US Supreme Court decision re: gay marriage.

"Breeding, captive members..." is disrespectful. ..."breeding like rabbits" is ugly.

I'm not convinced that il papa is disrespectful of American values.

Are you a NAZI?

Posted by Condoms Prevent Abortions, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Oct 8, 2015 at 8:56 pm

Cholo, you may think "breeding like rabbits" is 'ugly'. However, that was a visual and audio 'filmclip & quote' made by Pope Francis. That was about 6 months ago, and I saw it. It was news worthy for about 24 hours. Santorum, with his contraception obsession, even 'scolded' the Pope. Then others scolded him for daring to scold the Pope. Sorry you don't follow the news as closely as I do. Because of the quote, I had looked forward to him addressing his 'poverty' problem. Extreme poverty is in the 'catholic' countries, which is why he saw so up close in South America. I wrote several Bishops re how good of the Pope's somewhat feeble attempt to at least 'recognize the problem'. That is why I was disappointed he didn't ask his people to assume a bit of personal responsibility. I expected more from him on the issue. He just seemed to expect us to pick up the they were immaculate conceptions, instead of personal choices. Our human brains are suppose to be larger than animals.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Oct 9, 2015 at 1:00 pm

il papa has made various offensive comments, not just"breeding like rabbits".

I find the comment insensitive and derogatory. That's not to imply that I strongly dislike il papa. Adults make choices. He chose celibacy. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if there are millions upon millions of people who do not believe that ill papa has ever been celibate. People believe what they will believe. I wish il papa well.

Hope you're enjoying your time following the news! GO GIRL!

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Oct 9, 2015 at 4:20 pm

In my opinion, il papa is unreasonable re: LBGT Catholics. There are so many LBGT humans all over planet earth and he'll not accept LBGT marriage? I don't understand?

Northern California boasts high ranking homosexual clergy: 1 Cardinal and 4 Archbishops, one now in Salt Lake City, Archbishop Wester. There are also thousands of LBGT priests/nuns worldwide.

What's the big fuss? I don't get the secrecy? If so many within the Catholic church are so high ranking, how come they are not being exposed for their hypocrisy? They seem to enjoy harming/trashing out LBGT Catholics.

I'm a reasonable adult and I find the closeted lives of LBGT clergy very strange?

I'm trying to be understanding and appreciative of the positions of the RCC but I must admit, I find it a struggle.

Can anybody help me understand what's going on with the duplicity of the RCC?

Posted by JasonKJohn, a resident of another community,
on Oct 26, 2015 at 2:32 am

JasonKJohn is a registered user.

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