So get this: Pope Francis used to be a bouncer.
How do we know this? According to L’Osservatore Romano (the official newspaper of the Vatican), the new pontiff made the revelation himself during a recent parish visit to a church on the outskirts of Rome.
Cool, right? Sure …
Francis – formerly known as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires – took over the Roman Catholic Church in March after Benedict XVI resigned for health reasons (becoming the first pope in six centuries to resign the office).
We don’t know much about Catholicism, but we know Francis is a much more aggressive leader than his predecessor.
He’s repeatedly waded into political matters and foreign affairs – including a meeting this week with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the Iranian nuclear program and ongoing tensions in the Middle East.
Of course Francis appears to be a bit naïve when it comes to some of his views – recently stating that he supported government intervention against “unfettered” capitalism and a “culture of prosperity.”
Wait … a “culture of prosperity?”
Clearly this guy has never been to South Carolina …
Anyway, roughly 1.2 billion people worldwide – including 75 million Americans – are Catholics. Those numbers have remained steady in recent years – but the intensity of the faithful appears to be lagging.
“The proportion of Catholics reporting strong religious affiliation declined by almost twenty percentage points over the last few decades, from 46 percent of Catholics in 1974 to 27 percent in 2012,” Texas A&M University professor James R. Rogers recently noted. “Protestants reporting strong religious affiliation increased more than ten percentage points during the same period, from 43 percent to 54 percent.”
Our advice to Francis? Focus more on ministering (and less on demonstrably misguided economic criticism) and more Catholics might start practicing what his church preaches …
UPDATE: There’s a column in The National Review suggesting Francis’ criticism of the free market was due to a bad translation. We’re not buying it, but …
UPDATE II: Worth noting … we absolutely agree government must exist (and take sanctioned action) to protect life, liberty and property. What we reject is government performing non-core functions, engaging in crony capitalism and incentivizing dependency, among other things.