Pope Francis' remark's about happiness also takes aim at the ideology of the Republican Party

Pope Francis

Pope Francis recently shared several tips for finding happiness with Argentinian weekly “Viva.” When you read the list, it is apparent that Pope Francis is one of the most progressive popes we have ever known. It is also apparent that, intentional or not, the list takes square aim at the conservative, religious wing of the Republican Party. I hope they are listening.

Become an environmental steward.

Reiterating earlier remarks he stated that “we must protect God’s “special gift” of Creation. More importantly he addressed fracking, one of the most destructive mining techniques, by saying “When, for example, you want to make use of a mining method that extracts more than other methods, but it contaminates the water, it doesn’t matter,” he said.  “And so they go on contaminating nature. I think it’s a question that we do not face: humanity, in the indiscriminate use and tyranny over nature, is it committing suicide?”

Walk softly.

He mentioned the Argentine novel “Don Segundo Sombra,” written by Ricardo Güiraldes.

In ‘Don Segundo Sombra’ there is a very beautiful thing, a man who looks back on his life. He says that in youth he was a rocky stream that carried everything ahead;  As an adult, he was a running river, and that in old age, he felt movement, but it was ‘”remansado” [dammed; ie slowed, quiet]. I would use this image of the poet and novelist Ricardo Güiraldes, the last adjective “remansado”. The ability to move with kindness and humility, calmness of life,” said the Pope.

The Republican House should “lean in” and take his words to heart. There are 163 members of Congress who identify as Catholic. Yet at every turn they have done everything in their power to prevent aid to the unemployed, veterans (with the exception of voting to repair the problems at the V.A.), and social assistance recipients. They have even joined in a vote to sue the President for the first time in history.

Work toward empowering young people.

I read the other day, but I do not telegraph it as a scientific fact, that there were 75 million young people under the age of 25 unemployed,” he said.  The Pope suggested the youth could be taught skilled work, which would allow them the “dignity of bringing home the bacon.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren offered a sensible plan to lower the burden on student loan debt saying that it did not make sense to her why students could not receive the same interest rate as big banks. Instead students are charged 7 percentage points above that rate. However, Republicans in the Senate waged a filibuster effectively killing the bill.

Pope Francis

Peace over war.

War destroys,” said Pope Francis.  “And we must shout out for peace. Peace sometimes gives the idea of quietness, but it is not quiet, it is always an active peace.”

According to Viva, the Holy Father also spoke about those fleeing the horrors of war and other calamities, and how many countries are not generous in helping refugees.  He said Europe fears speaking about immigration, but he praised Sweden for its policies, noting that despite their small population, they have allowed in hundreds of thousands of immigrants.

At a time when the United States is struggling to close down the longest running war in its history (originally waged by a Republican administration) and the Gaza conflict continues to rage, this advice could not be more salient. Republicans have criticized the President repeatedly for his failure to jump into more conflict. Yet there is something to be said for the restraint the President has displayed.

Live and let live.

The Romans have a saying, which can be taken as a point of reference, they say: ‘Campa e lascia campà’ …live and let live,” said Pope Francis. “That’s the first step to peace and happiness.”



  1. Nicely-written and revealing of Francis both in content, tone and tenor.

    A further notation:

    Missed by far too many in the celebration of a papacy that, though still mightily constrained by the institution, bureaucracy, tradition and creaking theological gears of the Church itself, has been able to articulate a message that resonates with “the least of these” and directs the gaze of the ecclesia forward into the future rather than backward into the past is the fact that the Papal Conclave knew exactly whom they were electing to wear “the shoes of the fisherman” and elected him in rather quick and fluid fashion.

    It is more than just hopeful for the Roman Church that the College of Cardinals is surprised not a whit by how Catholics the world over have responded to both the person and the message of this Pontiff. Indeed, I suspect that, as a whole, they are delighted that their best hopes for him have not only come to pass but been exceeded.

    And, though a Protestant, I do take a certain delight in the fact that Francis seems quite unconcerned by the undertone of resistance emanating from the more entrenched, conservative and now openly-Republican cabal of powerful cardinals and bishops in the U.S. On two occasions, the Holy Father has issued statements that closely-followed and were in clear opposition to statements made by the eminently devious Timothy Dolan. They were, in the personal manner of this Pope, cushioned rebukes, but rebukes nonetheless. And, following the second of the two, we have not heard a whimper from the formerly gregarious cardinal who never missed an opportunity to signal his political leanings.

    One guesses that Cardinal Dolan and several of his colleagues in connivance are brooding over their expensive bourbon as they contemplate the fact that, when one from the Americas finally occupied the Chair of Peter, he was from the “wrong” America.

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