Thoughts on Pope Francis and a call for support for CN&R’s nonprofit foundation

With a few exceptions, my family is pretty religious. Most of my relatives in Chico and the surrounding areas are Protestants who attend some sort of nondenominational church. There are a few outlier Catholics who live elsewhere. And then there's me. I'm neither. I wouldn't call myself godless, exactly. I just haven't felt connected in a lasting way to a particular group.

And believe me, I've tried organized religion. During childhood I got a taste of a number of denominations: evangelical, Nazarene, Baptist. As an adult I checked out Presbyterianism, Catholicism and Anglicanism. That means I've been to the flag-waving rock 'n' roll churches and also to the ritualistic congregations that actually feel like houses of God. The latter appeal to me more, but not enough to get me through the doors on Sunday.

Still, I've been a bit of a fangirl when it comes to Pope Francis since shortly after his election back in 2013. I've written about him a few times in this space, mostly in praise of him exhibiting what appears to me to be Christlike behavior. (It's hard not to admire the teachings of Jesus.) The pope has, for instance, eschewed the comforts of the expansive apostolic apartments, opting to stay in his modest room at a Vatican residence. Additionally, he's rumored to sneak out at night dressed as a priest to commune with the down and out.

And then there's the release this past summer of his second encyclical, “Laudato Si'”—a treatise on the global community's destruction of the environment and our responsibility to address such issues as climate change, the exploitation of natural resources and poverty.

I hope the local Catholic churches have taken note of these things, especially his call to save the planet. But, as is pointed out in this week's cover story, the pontiff has no direct control over the warming of our world. Meanwhile, there are many other issues (the church's archaic doctrine on birth control use, homosexuality and remarrying without annulment, for example) that he could address and hasn't. The public may think of the pope as a rock star today, but how will he be viewed later if he remains on the wrong side of history?

In other news, this is the last month for CN&R's fundraising push for our nonprofit investigative reporting endeavor. As I've mentioned before, all of the money that comes into the coffers by way of the North Valley Community Foundation will go exclusively to pay for reporting on critical community issues. None of it will go to this newspaper's bottom line.

If we raise $25,000 by the end of December, an anonymous donor will pitch in an additional $10,000. But we'd need about $8,500 to meet that goal. I don't like begging for money, but if the issues we've written about—homelessness, mental illness, climate change, government transparency, health care, civil rights, etc.—have touched you and you want to support in-depth reporting, please consider donating.

Tax-deductible donations may be made online at nvcf.org/fund/chico-news-review-foundation or by check payable to NVCF/CN&R Foundation and mailed to: North Valley Community Foundation, 240 Main St., Ste. 260, Chico, CA 95928.