Op-Ed: Why Pope Francis gives Catholicism a new life

by Meg Storm

Can Pope Francis “save” the Catholic Church in the way the American media has endlessly discussed these last several weeks? The answer, quite simply, is no. By all accounts Francis is as conservative as his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. Yesterday, TheBlaze’s Billy Hallowell reported that “on contraceptives and gay marriage, he has, in the past, taken strict, conservative stances.”

But can Pope Francis work to ensure the Catholic Church remains vibrant and relevant for years to come? The answer, quite simply, is a resounding yes. And, as a 22-year-old practicing Catholic and staunch conservative, this is a time of great hope and prayer.

It is undeniable that the state of Catholicism in the United States is troubled. From the closing of Catholic schools around the country due to of a lack of funding, to the sex-abuse scandal that has rightfully plagued the Church for the last decade, to views on homosexuality and contraception that are considered antiquated and intolerant in the more liberal society we now inhabit, the Church faces more than its fair share of challenges both in the U.S. and abroad.

National Geographic compiled remarkable data that shows just how much the demographics of the Catholic Church have changed over the past century. What was once a religion dominated by Europeans, is now an institution that finds its greatest support in Latin America and Africa.

Photo Credit: National Geographic/Alexander Stegmail, Maggie Smith, NGM Staff

On one hand, this is a major victory for not only Catholics, but Christianity as a whole. Missions to war-torn, impoverished, and developing nations across Africa and South America have yielded tremendous results for the faith. As of 2010, 13 percent of the world’s 1.6 billion Catholics reside in Brazil and 9 percent in Mexico. African nations have also seen tremendous gains. On the other hand, France, which in 1900 had the largest population of Catholics at 15 percent, now accounts for less than 5 percent of the Church’s followers. Similar trends can be found in Spain, Poland, and Italy.

Ironically, the United States has remained relatively stable over the years, hovering at around 7 percent of the world’s Catholic population since 1970. But according to the 2010 U.S. Religious Census: Religious Congregations & Membership Study, there are 58,934,906 Catholics in the United States down 5 percent from the 2000 report. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the largest growing Catholic population in the U.S. is in the Hispanic community, with a February Gallup poll finding 54 percent of Hispanics identify as Catholic (this number, however, is down 4 percent from 2008).

While demographics and numbers certainly do not tell the whole story, the election of a Pope from a Latin American country is significant and signals a shift (however slight) in the Catholic Church. Putting issues like contraception and homosexuality aside, common arguments against the Church suggest that there is too large a gap between the Church hierarchy and the laity.

While moral guidance certainly comes from the Bible, declining Church attendance seems to corroborate the idea that people are less motivated by the Vatican and more motivated by their own conscious and conviction. In an article for the German Deutsche Welle, "US Catholicism at a crossroad," author William D’Antoni explained that, especially in America, a culture of individualism works against the traditional structure of the Church. "It is this idea of personal autonomy. You are responsible for your behavior. There is this basic cultural norm that goes way back to the early pilgrims and protestant leaders of the society. Catholics have taken that and modified it around the conscience idea,” D’Antonti said.

While those who regularly attend mass may find themselves inspired by the homily of a beloved parish priest, the Catholic Church in the U.S. fails to reach out to those who have been alienated or gone astray. While persistent and effective missions throughout Latin America and Africa have brought a substantial number of people to the faith, the Church seldom mobilizes its forces in the United States and Europe in the same way, perhaps accounting for the declining rates in those regions.

I am not sure that this pope, or any pope for that matter, can right the ship and reengage those who have left the faith. Furthermore, there will be a tremendous debate, especially among conservatives, about the ramifications of having a Jesuit pope. I for one take pause at some of the comments Pope Francis has made in the past regarding economic inequality and social justice. Yet I find myself cautiously optimistic that in a world grappling with the realities of how to provide for the least among us, Pope Francis has the ability to profoundly redefine the role of the Church in this problem.

In the United States alone, the government has overtaken churches as the primary source of welfare and charity. We have become more dependent on the government because far too often people find themselves with no other option. But Pope Francis, with his firsthand experience and documented devotion to the poor, could help to reverse this trend. Reminding Catholics near and far of the good work done by Catholic charities and missions throughout history, may revitalize a community of people who feel disheartened by a problem that seems too large for any one person to solve. Francis alone cannot effect such change, but in harmony with the Catholic cardinals, bishops, priests, and laity around the world, the Church can once again emerge as a global leader of charity and serving the needs of the poor.

It is no secret the Catholic Church finds itself at a crossroad but with the leadership and experience Pope Francis appears to offer, this is a historical moment not just for the Church but for the role of religion more broadly. Moreover, this is an especially exciting time to be a Catholic.

Terry Trobiani owns Gianelli's Drive Thru in Prairie Grove, Illinois, where he put up a row of American flags for the Fourth of July. But the city claimed he was displaying two of them improperly and issued him a $100 ticket for each flag.

Terry joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Tuesday to explain what he believes really happened. He told Glenn that, according to city ordinance, the American flag is considered "ornamental" and should therefore have been permitted on a federal holiday. But the city has now classified the flag as a "sign."

"Apparently, the village of Prairie Grove has classified the American flag as a sign and they've taken away the symbol of the American flag," Terry said. "So, as a sign, it falls under their temporary sign ordinance, which prohibits any flying, or any positioning of signs on your property — and now this includes the American flag. [...] The only way I could fly the American flag on my property is if I put it on a permanent 20 to 30-foot flagpole, which they have to permit."

Terry went on to explain how the city is now demanding an apology for his actions, and all after more than a year of small-business crushing COVID restrictions and government mandates.

"COVID was tough," Terry stated. "You know, we're in the restaurant business. COVID was tough on us. We succeeded. We made it through. We cut a lot of things, but we never cut an employee. We paid all our employees. I didn't take a paycheck for a year just to keep our employees on, because it was that important to me to keep things going. And, you know, you fight for a year, and you beat a pandemic, and then you have this little municipality with five trustees and a president, who just have no respect for small businesses. And right now, what I see is they have no respect for the republic and the United States ... I think it's terrible. The direction that government, at all levels, have taken us to this point, it's despicable."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:


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The Biden administration is now doing everything it can to censor what it has decided is COVID-19 "misinformation." But Glenn Beck isn't confident that the silencing of voices will stop there.

Yeonmi Park grew up in North Korea, where there is no freedom of speech, and she joined Glenn to warn that America must not let this freedom go.

"Whenever authoritarianism rises, the first thing they go after is freedom of speech," she said.

Watch the video clip below from "The Glenn Beck Podcast" or find the full episode with Yeonmi Park here:

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Most self-proclaimed Marxists know very little about Marxism. Some of them have all the buzzwords memorized. They talk about the exploits of labor. They talk about the slavery of capitalist society and the alienation caused by capital. They talk about the evils of power and domination.

But they don't actually believe what they say. Or else they wouldn't be such violent hypocrites. And we're not being dramatic when we say "violent."

For them, Marxism is a political tool that they use to degrade and annoy their political enemies.

They don't actually care about the working class.

Another important thing to remember about Marxists is that they talk about how they want to defend the working class, but they don't actually understand the working class. They definitely don't realize that the working class is composed mostly of so many of the people they hate. Because, here's the thing, they don't actually care about the working class. Or the middle class. They wouldn't have the slightest clue how to actually work, not the way we do. For them, work involves ranting about how work and labor are evil.

Ironically, if their communist utopia actually arrived, they would be the first ones against the wall. Because they have nothing to offer except dissent. They have no practical use and no real connection to reality.

Again ironically, they are the ultimate proof of the success of capitalism. The fact that they can freely call for its demise, in tweets that they send from their capitalistic iPhones, is proof that capitalism affords them tremendous luxuries.

Their specialty is complaining. They are fanatics of a religion that is endlessly cynical.

They sneer at Christianity for promising Heaven in exchange for good deeds on earth — which is a terrible description of Christianity, but it's what they actually believe — and at the same time they criticize Christianity for promising a utopia, they give their unconditional devotion to a religion that promises a utopia.

They are fanatics of a religion that is endlessly cynical.

They think capitalism has turned us into machines. Which is a bad interpretation of Marx's concept of the General Intellect, the idea that humans are the ones who create machines, so humans, not God, are the creators.

They think that the only way to achieve the perfect society is by radically changing and even destroying the current society. It's what they mean when they say things about the "status quo" and "hegemony" and the "established order." They believe that the system is broken and the way to fix it is to destroy, destroy, destroy.

Critical race theory actually takes it a step farther. It tells us that the racist system can never be changed. That racism is the original sin that white people can never overcome. Of course, critical race theorists suggest "alternative institutions," but these "alternative institutions" are basically the same as the ones we have now, only less effective and actually racist.

Marx's violent revolution never happened. Or at least it never succeeded. Marx's followers have had to take a different approach. And now, we are living through the Revolution of Constant Whining.

This post is part of a series on critical race theory. Read the full series here.

Americans are losing faith in our justice system and the idea that legal consequences are applied equally — even to powerful elites in office.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) joined Glenn Beck on the radio program to detail what he believes will come next with the Durham investigation, which hopefully will provide answers to the Obama FBI's alleged attempts to sabotage former President Donald Trump and his campaign years ago.

Rep. Nunes and Glenn assert that we know Trump did NOT collude with Russia, and that several members of the FBI possibly committed huge abuses of power. So, when will we see justice?

Watch the video clip below:


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