Hemphill: Pope Francis, Jerry Brown have much in common

By Allen Polk Hemphill

The new pope seems like Jerry Brown.

Allen Hemphill

Both are minimalists — riding the bus, living frugally, cooking their own meals in austere apartments. The new pope is wearing his own cross instead of the heavily bejeweled cross usually worn. (As archbishop, he often rode the bus instead of the limousine available to him, and those who wanted to have an audience with him knew where to find him.)

The pope and Jerry Brown both studied as Jesuits.

My knowledge of Catholicism — as a child, raised Episcopalian — was in Catholic military boarding schools, and the Sisters of Divine Providence, all of which were educational, intellectual, strict, and frugal. We had priests, and there was not a hint of misbehavior.

(The misbehavior was all on the part of a certain Episcopalian whose “Why?” echoed daily in the Catechism class. His question usually brought a gentle “God works in mysterious ways” rejoinder.)

It was not until I went to Spain as a young midshipman that it dawned on me that there might be some disconnect between the church and the poor. Because I love massive European church architecture, in my first port call, Vigo, Spain, I sought out such a church.

It happened on some religious holiday or other, which is immaterial, but out of this massive church came a procession of hundreds, and six big men carrying a large solid, obviously heavy silver statue of the Virgin Mary.

On the very steps of this beautiful cathedral were beggars asking for alms. This resulted in cognitive dissonance for me. The delta between the gilded church and the poor that the leader of that church had ordered his people to help was shocking.

I have great hope that the new pope can sell off just a few of the Renaissance paintings that absolutely clog the catacombs of the Vatican. I can’t say the paintings are unseen because I saw some of them on a PBS special a few years ago.

So, we have a new pope who lived in a sparse apartment in Argentina, and now he lives in the second largest palace in the world — 1,400 rooms — second only to the palace of the Dali Lama I am told.

Obviously, the new pope doesn’t want to rent out rooms and give the proceeds to the poor. At 76 he must realize that the next pope is close around the corner, and the next pope doesn’t want to evict all the renters.

On Feb. 8 on my daily blog, I wrote:

“It was cold and rainy last night.

The homeless shivered outside in the cold rain.

The churches were warm, dry — and VACANT!

Case closed.”

As “The People’s Pope” it would be nice to see if he can’t nudge the Vatican toward humility.

The Vatican can use it.

Hey, I am no radical…but movement in the right direction would be welcome.

Reach Hemphill at ahemphill@cox.net.

Short URL: http://www.pomeradonews.com/?p=34284

Posted by Staff on Mar 27 2013. Filed under Columnists. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

3 Comments for “Hemphill: Pope Francis, Jerry Brown have much in common”

  1. R. Barry Cronin

    Mr. Hemphill, I enjoyed reading your observations regarding the new Pope, Francis I, and agree that many have high hopes about the future of the church under his papacy. I do think, however, you are misleading your readers by implying a lack of charity on the part of his Church and his people. These are the facts as I know them. There are 630 Catholic hospitals in the United States and one in six patients is cared for in one of these facilities. The Catholic Church manages 36 percent of health care facilities around the world. The Catholic Church is the biggest private provider of AIDS care on the planet, caring for one in four of the world’s 33 million AIDS patients. And while we can debate what is the single largest charity in the world, it’s a sure bet the Catholic Church is right up there at the top. I lived in Europe. There is a reason these unfortunate poor beggars sit on the steps of the Cathedral. They know that is the most likely place where they are going to encounter charitable people. Great article! Thanks.

  2. Catholic Charities dos yeoman work, but the fact remains that churches, ALL CHURCHES, remain warm and dry while the homeless shiver in the cold and wet of winter.

    Yes, almost all churches collect money for the poor including the homeless, but that is to keep the poor and the homeless at arms' length. Homeless shelters keep the unwashed and unloved somewhere else, while the congregations have doctors, nurses, beuticians, social workers, and more importantly, employers — and ach of them has been ordered by their leader to help the poor.

    They *the congregation) are ordered by Jesus to help the poor, not hire someone else to help the poor. They are ordered help the poor, not to implore the government to help the poor.

    I was recently at a mega church in Carlsbad that, alone, was large enoough to house and feed all the homeless in North County. The parking lot alone was large enough for a circus tent, in fact several circus tents, each of which could house and feed the homeless of North County. The lst time I ran the numbers on ten cities, the ratio of homeless to churches in those cities was seven homeless for each church.

  3. Must learn to first compose in a word processor. Apologies for the typos. That is why God invented Editors!

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