Appearances matter

Welcome to this week's Reno News & Review.

I was baptized and confirmed a Catholic. I went to Catholic grade school, high school and a few semesters in a Catholic college. I know a lot about Catholicism, even though I don't think I've identified as Catholic since the day of my confirmation.

At any rate, I watch papal visits with great interest. I'm particularly interested in how the public perceives these visits. I'll be honest, I'm never that interested in what they say because, who cares what foreign leaders have to say about how we do America? I don't care what Netanyahu or Al-Sudais or Hollande have to say about American public policy. I barely care what American public policy makers have to say about how America runs.

One thing I find interesting is how the press refers to Pope Francis. Frequently, he's referred to as “the Pope,” no name necessary. How frequently does the American press call other religious or political leaders by their title in lieu of a name? Not often. Can you imagine a king being called the King by the press?

I'm also a little surprised by how virtually anything he says is considered news. I found that parting shot that a leader of a foreign-based club is allowed to say that government officials have a “human right” to refuse to discharge a duty, such as issuing marriage licenses to homosexuals, if they feel it violates their conscience. In this country, the only appropriate response to a crisis in conscience is not to violate your sworn oaths to uphold the country's laws, but to resign your position. If a Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist leader tells Americans they have a human right to violate the law, I'm pretty sure there'd be some push back by loyal Americans.

I've never liked a pope as much as I like this one, but I don't really understand the fawning coverage. It's truly beyond my comprehension that the simple idea that Christians should act more like their own idea of Jesus is considered radical in this greedy and hypocritical age.