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.

Science did it again. It only took 270 million years, but this week, scientists finally solved the mystery that has kept the world up at night. We finally know where octopuses come from: outer space. That explains why they look like the aliens in just about every alien movie ever made.

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It turns out octopuses were aliens that evolved on another planet. Scientists haven't determined which one yet, but they've definitely narrowed it down to one of the planets in one of the galaxies. Hundreds of millions of years ago (give or take a hundred), these evolved octopus aliens arrived on Earth in the form of cryopreserved eggs. Now, this part is just speculation, but it's possible their alien planet was on the verge of destruction, so Mom and Dad Octopus self-sacrificially placed Junior in one of these cryopreserved eggs and blasted him off the planet to save their kind.

This alien-octopus research, co-authored by a group of 33 scientists, was published in the Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology journal. I'm sure you keep that on your nightstand like I do.

Anyway, these scientists say octopuses evolved very rapidly over 270 million years. Which sounds slow, but in evolutionary terms, 270 million years is like light speed. And the only explanation for their breakneck evolution is that they're aliens. The report says, “The genome of the Octopus shows a staggering level of complexity with 33,000 protein-coding genes — more than is present in Homo sapiens."

Lucky for us, they landed in the water. Otherwise, we might be octopus pets.

They mention that the octopus' large brain, sophisticated nervous system, camera-like eyes, flexible bodies and ability to change color and shape all point to its alien nature. Octopuses developed those capabilities rather suddenly in evolution, whereas we're still trying to figure out the TV remote.

These biological enhancements are so far ahead of regular evolution that the octopuses must have either time-traveled from the future, or “more realistically" according to scientists, crash-landed on earth in those cryopreserved egg thingies. The report says the eggs arrived here in “icy bolides." I had to look up what a “bolide" is, and turns out it's a fancy word for a meteor.

So, to recap: a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, an alien race of octopuses packed their sperm-bank samples in some meteors and shot them toward Earth. Lucky for us, they landed in the water. Otherwise, we might be octopus pets.

President Trump's approval rating is rising, and Democrats — hilariously — can't seem to figure out what's going on. A few months ago Democrats enjoyed a sixteen point lead over Republicans, but now — according to CNN's recent national survey — that lead is down to just THREE points. National data from Reuters shows it as being even worse.

The Democratic advantage moving towards the halfway mark into 2018 shows that Republicans are only ONE point behind. The president's public approval rating is rising, and Democrats are nervously looking at each other like… “umm guys, what are we doing wrong here?"

I'm going to give Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi a little hint. We know that the Left has enjoyed a “special relationship" with the media, but they might want to have a sit down with their propaganda machine. The mainstream media is completely out of control, and Americans are sick of it. We're DONE with the media.

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Look what has been going on just this week. The president called MS-13 gang members animals, but that's not the story the media jumped on. They thought it was more clickable to say that Trump was calling all immigrants animals instead. In the Middle East, the media rushed to vilify Israel instead of Hamas. They chose to defend a terror organization rather than one of our oldest allies.

Think about that. The media is so anti-Trump that they've chosen a violent street gang AND A GLOBAL TERROR ORGANIZATION as their torch-bearing heroes. Come on, Democrats. Are you seriously baffled why the American people are turning their backs on you?

Still not enough evidence? Here's the New York Times just yesterday. Charles Blow wrote a piece called "A Blue Wave of Moral Restoration" where he tried to make the case that the president and Republicans were the enemy, but — fear not — Democrat morality was here to save the day.

Here are some of these cases Blow tries to make for why Trump is unfit to be President:

No person who treats women the way Trump does and brags on tape about sexually assaulting them should be president.

Ok, fine. You can make that argument if you want to, but why weren't you making this same argument for Bill Clinton? Never mind, I actually know the reason. Because you were too busy trying to bury the Juanita Broaddrick story.

Let's move on:

No person who has demonstrated himself to be a pathological liar should be president.

Do the words, “You can keep your doctor" mean anything to the New York Times or Charles Blow? I might have saved the best for last:

No person enveloped by a cloud of corruption should be president.

I can only think of three words for a response to this: Hillary Frigging Clinton.

Try displaying a little consistency.

If the media really wants Donald Trump gone and the Democrats to take over, they might want to try displaying a little consistency. But hey, maybe that's just too much to ask.

How about starting with not glorifying terrorist organizations and murderous street gangs. Could we at least begin there?

If not… good luck in the midterms.

In the weeks following President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the mainstream media was quick to criticize the president's pro-Israel stance and make dire predictions of violent backlash in the Middle East. Fast forward to this week's opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem and the simultaneous Palestinian “protests" in Gaza.

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Predictably, the mainstream media chastised Israel for what they called “state-sanctioned terrorism" when the IDF stepped in to protect their country from so-called peaceful Palestinian protesters. Hamas leaders later admitted that at least 50 of the 62 Palestinians killed in the clashes were Hamas terrorists.

“In our post-modern media age, there is no truth and nobody even seems to be looking for it …. This is shamefully clear in the media especially this week with their coverage of the conflict between the border of Israel and the Gaza strip," said Glenn on today's show. He added, “The main media narrative this week is about how the IDF is just killing innocent protesters, while Hamas officials have confirmed on TV that 50 of the 62 people killed were working for Hamas."

The mainstream media views the Palestinians as the oppressed people who just want to share the land and peacefully coexist with the people of Israel. “They can't seem to comprehend that in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, only one side is actively trying to destroy the other," surmised Glenn.

Watch the video above to hear Glenn debunk the “peaceful Palestinian protest" fallacy.

Here are a few headlines regarding the protests in Israel: 'Global protests grow after Israeli killing of Palestinian demonstrators,' the Guardian. 'Israel kills dozens at Gaza Border,' the New York Times. 'Palestinians mourn dead in Gaza as protests continue,' CNN. 'Over 50 Palestinians in massive protest are killed by Israeli military, bloodiest day in Gaza since 2014 war,' ABC News. 'Gaza begins to bury its dead after deadliest day in years,' BBC.

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In each, the spoken or unspoken subject of the sentence and villain of the story is Israel. Innocent Palestinians murdered by the cruel Israelis. This is the narrative that the mainstream media has promulgated. Few have mentioned that the majority of the “protestors" that died were members of Hamas, the militant (and highly anti-Semetic) Sunni-Islamist organization that has been labeled a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department.

A senior Hamas official told reporters that 50 of the 59 people killed in Monday's protests were members of Hamas, and the remainder were “from the people." So…they were all Hamas.

As usual, mention of such membership has been left out of the mainstream media's anti-Israel, pro-Islam narrative.

As usual, mention of such membership has been left out of the mainstream media's anti-Israel, pro-Islam narrative. Maybe they think of Palestinians as underdogs and they love a good scrap. Well, they aren't underdogs. But their outburst have been glorified for so long that it's near impossible to disagree with that narrative.