A Pope To Love

It’s all his fault that I made a New Year’s resolution to resume blogging after months of chasing far less admirable rainbows, like trying to shoot my age in golf (never got that close) and becoming a decent jazz guitar player (maybe when I’m 80?).

Yes, Pope Francis. He’s lifted me out of my 20-year funk over the attempts to make Vatican II disappear as though it never happened.

What a treat it is for Catholics to be represented by a completely admirable person after so many years of hearing only from old cranks (even if they are my contemporaries).

What a welcome change from the standard disapproving, moralizing, self-righteous tone we’re used to hearing from the Vatican. Now we only have to hear it from the Archbishop of Santa Fe.

The best part about this turn of events has been Pope Francis’ ability to return public attention to the plight of the poor. Conservatives in the media have done a great job of selling the fiction that the poor have only themselves to blame. The result is that the War on Poverty of fifty years ago has morphed into the War on the Poor (and the sick for that matter).

Yes, he’s alienated Wall Street. The Lords of Finance, ever shallow, can’t believe Pope Francis could be so muddleheaded. Fox and CNBC propagandists rail that the Pope just doesn’t “get the concept”.

Kenneth Langone, wealthy conservative Home Depot founder and major Republican contributor, has even threatened to withhold his financial commitment to the renovation of  St. Patrick’s Cathedral unless the Pope stops making those [Gospel-based] pleas on behalf of the poor.

Talk about not getting the concept.

Joe Nocera’s recent column in the NY Times on Brazil notes that its “admittedly leftist government doesn’t spend a lot of time worrying about growth for its own sake, but rather connects it with alleviating poverty and growing the middle class.”

Quite a contrast, he says, to the U.S. where Congress won’t extend unemployment insurance and wants to cut back on food stamps.

What about here in New Mexico? We’re going backwards economically but does anyone have a plan?

Will there be any consideration to doing something for those affected the most by the erosion of the prospects of the lower and middle classes?

Will there be debate about how it is we can afford corporate tax breaks but we can’t afford Pre-K?

Or are we just going to have an election where all we’ll hear are soulless poll-tested slogans and dubious negative attacks funded by out-of-state interests?

Chuck Wellborn

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