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Cary Brunswick

January 7, 2014

I'm pleasantly surprised by Pope Francis

When some websites reported just before Christmas that the pope had made some startling remarks about Catholic doctrine, my first reaction was, “boy, was I ever wrong about Francis being a rotten choice for pope.’’

In what soon became clear as a hoax, the initial satirical blog posting said the pope had declared that “the church no longer believes in a literal hell where people suffer,’’ that it is a metaphor “like the fable of Adam and Eve.’’

The pope also reportedly said, “All religions are true, because they are true in the hearts of all those who believe in them. What other kind of truth is there? In the past, the church has been harsh on those it deemed morally wrong or sinful. Today, we no longer judge. Like a loving father, we never condemn our children. Our church is big enough for heterosexuals and homosexuals, for the pro-life and the pro-choice! For conservatives and liberals, even communists are welcome and have joined us. We all love and worship the same God.”

While some Catholics may have cringed upon hearing such comments attributed to the pope, others who have felt alienated from Vatican dogma welcomed them like breaths of fresh air.

And to think I was highly critical last winter of the selection of the Argentine archbishop as pope. I wrote that his role as archbishop of Buenos Aires during the so-called “Dirty War’’ was not what you would expect from a pope.

“During the military reign from 1975 to 1983, tens of thousands of alleged opponents to the regime were killed or disappeared, often tortured, drugged and dropped from helicopters,’’ I wrote. “Pope Francis, the former Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio, for years has been dogged by questions about his connections to the military leaders.’’

Well, even though it turned out the pope’s remarks quoted above were fiction, I still have to admit I was wrong in doubting how someone with Francis’ haunted past could be a good pope.

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Cary Brunswick

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