The Vicar of Christ Visits The Christian Nation

Posted by Fe Bongolan


Pope Francis I is coming to town this week. As we open the doors of Congress and the United Nations to welcome him, the theme of the questions we inevitably ask is: “How are the Papacy and the Catholic Church responding to the world as it now exists?”

Pope Francis I is coming to town this week. As we open the doors of Congress and the United Nations to welcome him, the theme of the questions we ask inevitably is: “How are the Papacy and the Catholic Church responding to the world as it now exists?”

Pope Francis will be arriving in an America, which some here call a “Christian” nation — but ironically, right now we’re a country in midst of ramping up its presidential campaigns on platforms that would make Jesus facepalm.

Donald Trump’s candidacy minted itself on Day One as anti-Hispanic immigrant, and it has grown its base of right-wing racists because of it. We’re still not certain of Hillary Clinton’s veracity when it comes to emails, but what concerns us more is her connection to big money lobbying interests in Washington DC, which have a Kraken’s tentacle-hold on US politics.

Whenever Jeb Bush says his brother “kept us safe,” we cough out “ISIS” as a direct result of the chaos that ensued when Dick Cheney’s Halliburton and other military corporations profited in billions of government money, while under contract purportedly to rebuild Iraq, but not doing a damn thing other than making Iraq a worse mess.

Trump’s racism is not new. It’s ongoing in this country, and its current upswing has had years of build-up and acceptance from the recent past. The vehement anti-Muslim rhetoric grew in the media in the wake of 9-11. The birther movement –- questioning Barack Obama’s “otherness” — arose just before President Obama first took office; and the outright racism against African Americans was sanctioned through speech, practice and policy, starting with the halls of Congress.

We call ourselves a Christian nation, going so far as to re-write the history of America’s Deist Founding Fathers who were children of the Enlightenment and who believed in the separation of Church and State. Yet, as a result, we have become far less tolerant –- less Christ-like –- in the process.

We’ve recently seen displayed some very un-Christ-like behavior by clerk Kim Davis of Rowan County, Kentucky. Her Christian beliefs not only prevented her from allowing gay couples to marry, but also stopped her staff from issuing licenses as well.

Then there’s the arrest of Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old high school student in Irving, Texas, for bringing his science project –- a home-made clock –- to school. This prompted school authorities to call the police to arrest Ahmed because: 1) he’s a Muslim and 2) there is no number two.

Ahhhhmerica: what would the Pontiff say?

Thursday’s address by Pope Francis to a joint session of Congress should be an interesting political and spiritual marker, but not of the Papacy’s evolution; rather, ours. The Christianists and Intolerati are getting blowback from recent events — in response to Ahmed’s arrest in Irving, Texas; and eye-rolling impatience that Kim Davis just DO-HER-JOB-ALREADY after serving time in jail for contempt of court. I may or may not be the only person feeling a shift taking place, but I get the feeling that perhaps our intolerance threshold is at peak and the only way next is a downward slope. Digging out my old school-girl rosary beads, I pray this is so.

With the Pope’s arrival, the Democrats may wince at the Republicans timing their vote to defund Planned Parenthood around the time of the Pontiff’s speech, yet the Republicans will most likely feel the sting of the Pope’s concern over the “economy of exclusion”, also known as global income inequality, as well as his climate change activism. Both parties should take a back seat when it comes to the “pay to play” politics that is killing democracy here and in poorer countries wholesale across the planet.

Remember that it was Pope Francis who instigated talks between Cuba and the US, defrosting 60 years of cold relations between two countries, and leading to the US re-opening its embassy in Havana earlier this summer. It’s the Pope whose liberation theology beliefs were forged from being a priest in Latin America during a time of intense and painful revolutionary struggle. It is this Pope who is questioning the closing of borders in Europe during the Syrian refugee crisis — a crisis caused in large part by our Western wars for profit. It is the Pope who leads and concerns himself with a global flock of 1.3 billion people, world-wide.

Maybe the question we should really ask when Pope Francis I touches down in America is: “How is the United States responding to the world as it now exists?” Who is more in touch with this turning world and all its people? The Pope or us? What are we doing about it? Perhaps Congress and the rest of the country should brace itself not for a pat on the back but for a sermon that needs to be heard by an errant flock — Christian and otherwise.

Posted in Welcome on | 19 comments
Fe Bongolan

About Fe Bongolan

Planet Waves writer Fe Bongolan lives in Oakland, California. Her column, "Fe-911," has been featured on Planet Waves since 2008. As an actor and dramaturge, Fe is a core member of Cultural Odyssey's "The Medea Project -- Theater for Incarcerated Women," producing work that empowers the voices of all women in trouble, from ex-offenders, women with HIV-AIDS, to young girls and women at risk. A Planet Waves fan from almost the beginning of Eric's astrology career, Fe is a public sector employee who describes herself as a "mystical public servant." When it comes to art, culture and politics, she loves reading between the lines.

19 thoughts on “The Vicar of Christ Visits The Christian Nation

  1. Barbara Koehler

    I just love the Pope’s style, don’t you Fe? He has a room-warming smile, so innocent as he looks up from the feet he is washing or the baby he is kissing. All that power and he doesn’t even have to shout or threaten or look fierce. That’s the power of Neptune baby. It’s in the aura that surrounds him; his bodyguards that we can see, or the symbolism he embodies that is hundreds of centuries older than our country and which leaves us in awe. Just the numbers of his followers compared to any of our political leaders for the 200+ years we have been in existence is humbling. We have met our match and he has won us over.

    That defrosting technique he uses is a Neptune thing too. It’s a skill and a gift rolled into one, that gentle melting away of anger and pride, and the passing of time. . . It’s a power to be respected. His natal Neptune is only 2 degrees away from the eclipse that was at 20+ Virgo you know, just as the U.S natal (Sibly) Neptune was only 2 degrees away from it on the other side. It’s like the eclipse just reached out and embraced the Pope with one arm and the U.S.A. with the other arm and said We Are All One and then gave them a hug.

    Donald Trump could learn a thing or two from Pope Francis. We all could.

  2. Geoff Marsh

    The Great White Pope vs The Great Satan? Can’t wait for this one. Could be a Smackdown.

    The only problem is if money really is the root of all evil. The Catholic Church has plenty of that, too.

    1. Fe BongolanFe Bongolan Post author

      Hey Geoff:

      Actually I am excited about the address, which I hope gets covered on CSPAN. I also hope he gives his speech in Spanish to give all those Congressional racists dry heaves.

      Popcorn for everyone!!!

  3. Fe BongolanFe Bongolan Post author

    Washington (CNN)

    America may be in for some tough love from the Pope.

    After a lifetime of watching the world’s most affluent and powerful nation from afar, Pope Francis walked on U.S. soil for the first time Tuesday, at the age of 78, when he arrived in Washington from Cuba.

    He’s assured of a warm welcome from millions of U.S. Catholics, and his poll numbers — which would be the envy of any politician — suggest that curious adherents of other faiths and even the nondevout are also eagerly awaiting his visit.

    But the first Latin American pope’s blessings on America could also contain uncomfortable challenges as he addresses a country that encapsulates many of the ills he has denounced as the head of one of the world’s largest religions. Though there are aspects of American life that Francis embraces, he has quickly become known for blunt critiques of contemporary society and global economics, and his criticism — from capitalism to climate change to technology — spans the political spectrum.

    “Pope Francis is the ultimate Washington outsider. His priorities are not Washington’s priorities,” said John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University. “We think we are the center of the world. We are not the center of Pope Francis’ world. He is frankly more comfortable in the slums of Argentina than in the corridors of power.”

    From the flurry of encyclicals, writings and other commentary that Francis has issued since his election two years ago, the United States, home to the world’s mightiest market economy, a ravenous consumer culture and nurturer of the World Wide Web, appears to represent much of what he abhors…

    (more at the link provided above – f.)

  4. Pisces SunPisces Sun

    Do you see the irony going on with such official visits? We have Xi Jinping, President of Peoples Republic of China, courting business interests, especially of the technical genre, in Seattle today and spending most of the week there. He will be meeting with top business leaders in the US that you know must be vying for more pieces of the Chinese pie. For the Itinerary check out this link:
    The Pope will soon address Congress (after making a long ago Spanish priest a Saint, much to the chagrin of some native Americans however, due to Colonialism) and then the Pope intends to celebrate families, visit a prison but also address Congress and the UN. But he will also celebrate a few masses including a few public masses, with one at Madison Garden and one in the Brotherly City of Love, Philadelphia.
    China is our #1 trading partner and Catholicism is America’s #2 religion. (see this link from Pew for more info:

    It’s a very busy week for the US’ sibly chart, eh?

  5. Barbara Koehler

    “I think he brings to Congress and the White House a different perspective than they are used to hearing.”

    And wouldn’t that be refreshing! Thanks Fe.

  6. Sara Victoria

    Thank you, Fe. I Love how he told European Churches to take in refugees or pay taxes like a business. I’m for a Pope Francis / Dalai Lama hook-up – patrolling the beat of the Western world. A whole new kind of action dramedy. Karma Police. Season Premiere, ASAP.

    1. Barbara Koehler

      Know what you mean Fe, mania for sure. Just noticed that right this minute, while waiting for the Pope’s address to the Congress, that the Moon is at 11+ Aquarius. This is the degree that all 3 outer planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, had in common when they ingressed the signs they occupy right now. For Uranus, the 11+ degree of Aquarius was held by Venus, for Neptune, that degree was held by Mercury, and for Pluto, that degree was held by the North Node and Nessus. Frankly, this gives me chills.

      Expect indications of Uranian style love, Neptunian style speech and some Plutonian direction forward regarding the abuse of power.

      1. Barbara Koehler

        Well, I believe the Uranian-style love and the Neptunian-style speech is, in part, the cell phone camera!

        My dad was a professional news photographer for over 40 years. Part of my job for 10 years was as photographer for the hospital I worked for. A comment heard from time to time these days is something like “put down your camera and be in the moment”. To that I’d like to note that the Event photographer, especially before everyone became a photographer, was/is (1) to be the eyes for all who were not present at the Event being photographed, and (2) to record for history the Event. The photographer himself sees it as a service and/or duty to be provided and is willing to eschew his personal desire to see for himself only and rather, to view for all. I believe today’s cell phone photographer, consciously or unconsciously, channels that sense of service.

    1. Fe BongolanFe Bongolan Post author

      Len and B:

      There were some wonderful moments in the speech where, as Len said — he turned his phrases on a dime and zinged it home. Especially about sanctity of life at all phases, including ending the death penalty and focus on reformation in prisons, having more compassion for the poor. Boom. Boom. Boom.

      Titanium fist in a velvet glove. Lots to think about and talk about by those who can manage to do both in Congress. He used the heart as a chisel to wear down the Intractable.

      1. Barbara Koehler

        Some of the symbolism transiting through the U.S. Sibly chart at this time of the Pope’s visit is pretty profound. Transiting Saturn, newly in the sign of religion (Sagittarius) is in the U.S. 12th house where the ego takes a back seat. Transiting Venus at 20+ Leo right now trines the U.S. Chiron at 20+ Aries (where Uranus sat for so long and will be returning). Venus is Love and Chiron is Healing.

        Transiting Neptune retrograde in the U.S. Sibly 3rd house of communication has backed off of his square with U.S. natal Uranus and conjunctions with U.S. Child, Nessus and Ceres in Pisces, providing a sense of relief. Transiting Neptune will return though.

        Transiting retrograde Chiron in Pisces is backing away from his sextile with the U.S. Vesta (what we invest ourselves in) in Taurus. Their sextile, when it was most active (and will be again) created a yod (finger of God no less) with the U.S. Juno (sense of inequality) in Libra who opposes the U.S. Chiron in Aries, thus turning the pattern into a Boomerang. This would be the transiting Chiron teamed with the U.S. Vesta pushing the U.S. Juno to “adjust” in some way. U.S. Juno then, combined with the trans. Chiron energy and the U.S. Vesta energy targeted the U.S. Chiron with all her might and energy.

        One of the ways I believe this was manifesting is through the Black Lives Matter effort. With the target point of all that combined energy/motivation on the U.S. Chiron, it was about healing. Remember that repetition is the calling card of Chiron. Remember that transiting Uranus was exactly conjunct the U.S. Chiron for months before he retrograded back away. This “pause” between transiting Chiron backing away from his sextile to U.S. natal Vesta, and transiting Uranus backing away from U.S. natal Chiron, created a void in the process which the Pope has filled with his inspiring visit. Sort of a chemo therapy thing but without the pain. (I’m sure I could have come up with some better comparison but, you get the idea I hope).

        Also, notice that transiting Mercury, by stationing retrograde when he did, crossed back over the conjunction with U.S. natal Saturn at 14+ Libra, putting all government entities (Saturn) into an introspective thinking mode. Now he is re-squaring the U.S. natal Sun in Cancer which has the same effect (introspective thinking) on our ego and consciousness. Doesn’t that just sound like what the Pope has done for us as a Nation? Isn’t it all rather remarkable that the Pope doesn’t even have an astrologer? Oh, and transiting Pluto even backed off his exact opposition to the U.S. natal Sun. Now that’s timing!

        Call it coincidence or call it having your Sun conjunct the Galactic Center, the Man has connections.

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