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Loving and Hating Pope Francis

23 November 2013 No Comment Email This Post Email This Post


Loving and Hating Pope Francis

Pop Francis is winning high praise from many Muslims these days:

Muslim leader says Pope Francis ‘resonates with the Muslim world’

The president of the Islamic Affairs Council of Maryland offered high praise for Pope Francis, saying the Catholic leader “resonates with the Muslim world,” much like the saint from whom he takes his name.

“From my perspective, Pope Francis is really doing a wonderful job in terms of outreach, in terms of contributing to world peace, in terms of contributing to stopping wars and conflicts, praying for better understanding,” said Imam Mohamad Bashar Arafat in an interview with Catholic News Service.

Arafat made the comments after visiting the Vatican in early October as part of a trip arranged by the U.S. State Department. Arafat pointed to a number of examples, including the pope’s recent call for the world to pray and fast in September in advance of what were then-expected U.S. military strikes against Syria.

“St. Francis resonates with the Muslim world,” Arafat said, noting that in 1219, Francis of Assisi was the first Catholic leader credited with holding a dialogue with a Muslim leader.

“I see Pope Francis saying the right things and setting the right tone, and also appearing in the right places at the right time,” Arafat said.

Pope Francis has repeatedly reached out to the world’s Muslims in his public comments. As recently as an August address, Francis said Catholics must learn to live in “mutual respect” with their “Muslim brothers.”…

Muslims are not alone in their admiration for the Pope. From Vice:


Half a year into his tenure, Pope Francis has proved to be very, very good at generating headlines. In the past few months, he announced that he’d be driving a used 1984 Renault around Vatican City, washed the feet of female Muslim prisoners,made remarks that seemed to indicate he’d be OK-ish with homosexual priests, got embarrassed that his old cathedral built a life-size statue of him, called people who sent him letters to comfort and advise them (including one gay Catholic), spoke outagainst economic inequality, and wrote an open letter in which he said that atheists and agnostics could be forgiven by God. What’s more, Francis’s second-in-command, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, told a newspaper that priests may someday be allowed to marry.

Naturally everyone, especially progressive types, is all in a tizzy. “Is Francis the Most Liberal Pope Ever?” asked an article from The Week. Chris Hayes of MSNBC was more blunt: “Best. Pope. Ever.” ….

Predictably, not everyone is delighted with the Pope’s new charm offensive. Aside from conservative Catholics who expressed concern about his “revolutionary” message, naturally anti-Muslims bigots are also in a huff.

Pamela Geller railed against the Pope on her blog, Atlas Shrugs. Displaying a photo of the Pope washing the feet of detainees, she wrote:

While millions of Christians are being oppressed, persecuted and slaughtered under Islamic law …… this is stomach-churning dhimmitude. This isn’t merely a lack of leadership; this is betrayal on an unimaginable level. Kill my people and I will wash and kiss your feet.

For jihadists, this image could very well replace the burning twin towers as iconic of Islamic imperialism and conquest.

Pat Dollard gave Pope Francis mixed reviews. After criticizing the Pope for his dovish stance toward Muslims and gays, he praised him for speaking out against the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, in a cross post he colorfully headlined:

Pope Francis Finally Stops Doing Nothing But Kissing Muslim A**, Starts Defending Christians Against Slaughter

( – Pope Francis expressed new concern Thursday for the situation faced by “Christians who suffer in a particularly severe way the consequences of tensions and conflicts in many parts of the Middle East.”

“Syria, Iraq, Egypt and other areas of the Holy Land sometimes overflow with tears,” he told a gathering at the Vatican of leaders from Eastern rite churches that have links with the Roman Catholic Church.

“We won’t resign ourselves to a Middle East without Christians who for two thousand years confess the name of Jesus, as full citizens in social, cultural and religious life of the nations to which they belong,” he said.

The pope appealed for “everyone’s right to a dignified life and to freely profess their faith [to] be respected.”

He also said he would “not rest as long as there are men and women, of any religion, affected in their dignity, deprived of life’s basic necessities, robbed of a future, forced to the status of refugees and asylum-seekers.”

The troubles faced by Middle Eastern Christians are expected to feature prominently when the pope on Monday meets with President Vladimir Putin, during the Russian leader’s visit to Italy.

Russia’s Orthodox Church has strengthened its ties with threatened Middle East churches in recent times, and Putin’s office said late last month Russia was considering granting citizenship to some 50,000 Syrian Christians seeking safe haven. Keep reading

Meanwhile, the Pope has continued his saintly good deeds, recently capturing headlines when helovingly embraced a disfigured man in St. Peter’s Square:

…Vinicio Riva will never forget the moment he met Pope Francis, and neither will the rest of us, as the moving image of the pontiff embracing Riva touched hearts and opened eyes around the world.

Though Riva has neurofibromatosis type 1, which presents as a disfiguring skin disorder, Francis opened his arms and embraced him tightly. Riva gave an exclusive interview to Italian magazine Panorama, where he described the loving moment.

Riva was struck by the Pope’s open love for all people. “I’m not contagious, but he [the Pope] didn’t know that,” he said. “But he did it, period: He caressed my whole face and while he was doing it, I felt only love.”

No words were exchanged, just the healing comfort of touch. “I tried to speak to say something but I was unable to,” said Riva in a translation provided by Time. “The emotion was too strong. It lasted a little longer than a minute but it felt as if it were eternity.”

Vinicio Riva is 53. He wasn’t expected to live past age thirty, but he’s surpassed those dire prediction and now lives with his sister Morena, age 46, who has a milder case of neurofibromatosis. He likes to volunteer his time to recycle and garden, and enjoys eating pizza with friends and watching Vicenza club soccer games.

However, he is still often stigmatized due to his appearance, even by his own father, who lives in the nursing home where he volunteers. His sister Morena told Panorama that their father never embraces him, feeling “embarrassed” by Riva’s disorder.

But that didn’t stop the Pope.

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