Waiting For My Pontiff

At the morning mass on February 23, 2017, at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis said, ‘If you are a Christian who exploits people, lead a double life or manages ‘dirty’ business, it is better not to call yourself a believer. But to be Catholic like that, it is better to be an atheist. He further added, it is that, Scandal’.

Though he said this as a sermon to Catholic Christians, we can safely extend this to all religions. Pope’s sermon at Casa Santa Marta sends a strong message for the believers. It would have amounted to blasphemy, at least with few religions. It is hard to find leaders, especially religious leaders, to espouse the cause of ‘Dharma’. Pope’s call for ‘true Dharma’ if not astounding, is truly impressive.

Amidst the deafening hustle and bustle of daily living, the deafening noise from politics, blind insensitivity from crass materialism,  spiritual priorities take significantly lesser precedence and almost completely get lost with the pace of life and competing priorities. Worst, when religious tools fall in the hands of petulant politicians or power brokers, or business, by subterfuge it takes a completely malignant form and reduces religion to disdain.

Amongst those practicing with some semblance of regularity, it gets reduced to artifacts like offering prayer, lighting candles, and reciting sermons/verses from revered texts or groping for identity, insisting on how our religious practices are superior to others. We hardly realize how deeply we are immersed with ourselves. An important aspect of religion is finally rising beyond us, as individuals or community and looking beyond and acting, with a humane perspective.

Embedded Values Inbuilt in our Moral Fabric

While most believe, moral fabric is evolutionary, I feel it is embedded within our survival and existing and defines our resilience. Those values are so deeply embedded within our moral fabric, that we yearn and ultimately derive the true meaning with solitude and reconciliation. In this crowded world with fast pace of life, we hardly get space to reconcile with our inner self with those deeply embedded  values  and religious tenets espoused by our religion – Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism etc. All religions, irrespective of the practices, offer a foundation and guiding principle for mankind to deal with the complexities of our evolution vis a vis our struggle to comprehend the existing of our living.

No Need for Proselytization or Tribal Conversion

While working as a fellow in Molecular Oncology at UT Southwestern, as a family, developed a deep bond with one of the senior colleague. Our bond was enduring and the retired professor often insisted, we should convert to her religion. My answer was simple – ‘even if I adopt your parents, my parents won’t cease to be my parents’. Proselytization is common to almost all faith. Some under the guise of emancipation, others are help and the worst, forceful conversion under threat, fear or losing modesty/esteem or social position. It is an ultimate reflection of lacking faith and trust the strength of religion. To the bigots, it is an offering to their Almighty. Will that truly help?

The struggle is searching for the real value within us and practicing those in our day to day life, changing garments won’t help, and definitely not the artifacts of practice. Especially, in today’s world, it has become immensely relevant to find the true meaning of religion within our own practice. And when we evolve as true believer, that glow will shine through our virtues and day to day practice. Possibly, those trying to impose the existing of their own religion may find this as a better practice.

A significant departure from the past

Pope’s sermon at Casa Santa Marta sends a strong message from a revered leadership. It would have amounted to blasphemy, at least with few religions! I doubt any spiritual leaders from my religion or others from Muslims, Jains, Buddhist, Jews or Sikhs would dare to say that. It is hard to find leaders, especially religious leaders, to espouse the cause of ‘Dharma’*. The pope’s call for ‘true Dharma’ is astounding and impressive. This is a very rare, and an important message for all believers, irrespective of the religion we follow. I have a lot to learn from Pope Francis, while I am awaiting my own Pontiff! May be that awakening will happen within.

(*Dharma, here refers to the ethos of religion and not to Hinduism).

Cited:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/progressivesecularhumanist/2017/02/pope-francis-better-atheist-hypocritical-catholic/pope-francis

http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/23/world/pope-atheists-again/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/02/23/pope-francis-praises-the-torah-and-suggests-its-better-to-be-an-atheist-than-a-bad-catholic/

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/02/130328-pope-francis-vatican-casa-santa-marta-apartment-rome-catholic/

 

 

4 thoughts on “Waiting For My Pontiff”

  1. Hindu religion is most generous of all. In all our prayers we pray for all living creatures, human race, animals, trees etc.”vishwache timir jao”.

    I see in some religions only the believers are prayed for and non-believers are reprimanded.

    This is very painful. And what Pope francis said according to you that better be atheist than hypocritical catholic requires great courage. Hats off to him. Thanks for bringing out what respected Pope said.

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    1. Atul, thanks for your comment. You brought a very important point. On a lighter side, I may be wrong, but I presume, it is Duritanche Timir Jao. Please check one of my blogs by that same name.

      A Muslim friend once pointed out (obviously to me) that Islam is under attack. I asked, why are other religions like Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Judaism or Jainism not under attack?

      Islam should realize that other religions also exist and they need to accommodate their perspective and philosophical/theological existence. That would change a lot of aggression in this contemporary world.

      I am hopeful, the crisis of our times would enlighten the younger generation to realize that they need to drop aggression and be accommodative.

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  2. Dear Ash, thank you so much for sharing you thoughts.

    I am very impressed by Pope Francis. He is right. Why religion should continue to accept an individual if he is not following its principles.

    If you violate rules and regulations in the school you are out. When you violate ethics, principles , norms and regulations prescribed by employer you are out of job. Then what’s wrong if a religion disowns you when you fail to follow it’s principles ? I am wondering why it did not happen up until now.

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    1. You are absolutely right. If you violate ethics, principles, norms and regulations, one should be barred from that community association. However, the Reverent Pope did not abandon or bar them from the faith. He is ask those not following the above to be equivalent to atheist.

      This is a significant departure from earlier practices where religion was considered a forgiver of wrongdoing and crime. The head of Catholic faith himself is asking violators to consider themselves as principally beyond religious perimeter.

      Over centuries now, people have committed crimes and violently disobeyed norms under the umbrage of religion and eventually, granted pardon for all their sins and wrong doing. If such statements from religious leaders become a norm, their followers will at least get a clear message that, within their own religious precepts, this is unacceptable to their God as well.

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