Pagans and Pope Francis - Against
Pagans & Pope Francis
In an uncertain world currently plagued by ecological problems, many
individuals applaud the stance that Pope Francis has recently taken on the
issue of climate change. In highlighting the negative and destructive effects
our planet is experiencing, Pope Francis is being hailed by many as a beacon of
hope for the human race. Some of that praise is actually emerging from the
pagan community and illustrates the innate tolerance and open-mindedness of
many pagans. That is something to be proud of. Or is it?
Tolerance and acceptance is certainly laudable and a hallmark of intelligent
and freethinking people today. But one must be careful to distinguish between
tolerance and naivety. There are times when discernment serves us better. For
example, Vatican rhetoric might be what pagans long to hear, but the Pope’s
ecological and well-meaning musings might not necessarily translate into any
long-term practical solutions. There are reasons to be sceptical and to suspect
that what we are hearing is little more than good PR.
First of all, let us not underestimate the Vatican; it has had a very long
time to hone its survival skills. Current estimates as to its wealth, which
tends to be shrouded in secrecy, are between 10 – 15 billion dollars, possibly
much more, so no sign of impending decline there after two thousand years.
Within that time span many secular empires have risen and fallen – but the
Church of Rome has never faltered in maintaining its dominance and power over a
large portion of the world. Once upon a time the Vatican achieved this by
ruthlessly crushing any opposition considered a threat to its assumed God-given
In more modern times the Vatican has learned to maintain its power by
employing chameleon-like skills. On the one hand it embraces modernity when it
is expedient, but on the other hand still clings to outmoded and
ultra-conservative values, such as inequality for women, including a blanket
ban on birth control. Some have cynically speculated that the real reason why
contraception remains anathema to Rome is because breeding more Catholics
replenishes the Church’s numbers more easily than proselytising for new
Secondly, Pope Francis’s recent use of the term “pagan” when referring to
those who are merely nominally Christian was more than ill advised; it was
ignorant and insulting. This is what he said:
“We must be careful not to slip into the way of pagan Christians … these
are the ones who are pagans painted over with two brush strokes of Christianity,
so they look like Christians, but are really pagans”.
Some might charitably argue that Pope Francis was merely using the term
“pagan” poetically – a sort of Shakespearian-style anachronism gleaned from
history for dramatic effect. If that were the case, then one could easily
overlook his choice of terminology. However, the use of the term “pagan” by the
Pope clearly betrayed a lack of knowledge and respect for modern paganism. Did
Pope Francis give any consideration as to how his choice of term would be
received by the thousands of modern and decent pagans the world over who
proudly regard paganism as a legitimate spiritual path, and one which has much
to offer? Clearly not – unless the Pope deliberately set out to offend! On the
other hand, the Pope might be so far out of touch with the modern world that he
is entirely unaware of pagan spirituality.
In the final analysis, does the Pope have any real credibility on ecological
matters? After all, he speaks in lofty terms about the Earth being “Sister” and
“Mother”, and how we must look after the planet as God’s gift. However, a
careful examination of the Pope’s choice of language is a good indicator to his
position. Pagans might question, for example, the Pope’s assumption that the
Earth is a “gift”; a gift is simply an object in the hands of a possessor, and
objects can be used and cherished – or abused and disposed of. The Pope is
clearly not singing from the same song sheet as pagans, who regard the Earth as
much more than a gift; the Earth is sacred and humans are an integral part of
Her, rather than merely “owners” or “stewards”.
Pope Francis also seems to quote the bible a lot, particularly biblical
references to human greed and attachment to wealth. In view of the immense
wealth of the Vatican, much of it gleaned nowadays from investments in
multi-national companies concerned more about profit than pollution, are the
Pope’s words worthy of serious consideration? Only you can decide. The bible,
however, also stresses the importance of discernment, and states that the Devil
is able to transform himself into an Angel of Light to fool the Faithful.
The final book of the bible, Revelation, which focuses on prophecy, also
warns against being seduced by the great city Babylon that reigns over the
kings of the world: “Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine
linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and
pearls. For in one hour so great riches is come to nought …” [Rev. 18: 16-17].
Interestingly, purple, scarlet and gold is a prominent feature of the
ecclesiastical colours of Rome.
As to whether modern pagans, however, attach any credence or not to biblical
prophecies is beside the point, the fact is that the early Christians believed
a time would come when a counterfeit form of Jesus’ teachings would dominate
the world. Over the centuries many have pointed the finger of suspicion at the
Vatican as being the Babylon of Revelation – and clearly with some reason, as
history has undoubtedly revealed.