Five Things Pope Francis Wouldn’t Do Online


computer keyboardWe all probably wish we could take back some things we have said and done online, not only for our own sake but for the sake of other people we were called to bring closer to God and instead pushed further away.

I often read some of the comments on Catholic blogs, (and sometimes the blog posts themselves) and I wonder to myself, “Does this person care that other people (especially non-Catholics) will read this and feel repelled by the way we talk about the faith and to each other?”

Do we as Catholics approach our activity online with too much concern for private opinion and not enough concern for evangelization? After all, our primary goal as Christians should be to grow closer to God and to spread the Gospel. Are these things at the forefront of our minds when we engage with others online?

Pope Francis recently tweeted:

With this in mind, I compiled a list of things I don’t think Pope Francis would do online. I use Pope Francis as our model because I think he is a good example of Jesus living today, and because he is truly an evangelizer par excellence.

Without further ado, five things Pope Francis wouldn’t do online:

1. Bait or Hate Atheists: As a former atheist, I am really sensitive to this particular online faux pas. The numbers of atheists are on the rise as well as the number of people who do not affiliate themselves with any specific religion.

We have a choice. We can make atheists and the non-religious our enemies, or we can follow Pope Francis’ lead and engage with our brothers and sisters with respect and interest. Thankfully, some people chose to do the latter with me.

2. Participate in Infighting: If we cannot see others’ failings, differences and uniqueness in the light of Christ, but instead skewer our fellow Christians with the ferociousness of lions in the coliseums, are we at all surprised when others find our Church unattractive? If our faith leads us to cannibalize one another over liturgy, doctrine, politics, social justice, etc, is it real faith? Or is it our own sense of self-importance masquerading as faith?

Pope Francis tells us quite clearly that unity is more important than conflict, a unity that can only be found in Christ.

3. Put Politics before Jesus: In a world in which politics sometimes seems like the ultimate reality, it is no surprise that we as Catholics sometimes fall into thinking that politics supersede faith. A good example of this is the recent statement Sarah Palin made about baptizing terrorists by waterboarding.

It is easy to point fingers but how often do we let our passions get the best of us when discussing politics?  When accused of being a communist, Pope Francis rightly insisted that his politics is the Gospel. Do we put the Gospel before anything else?

4. Engage in Gay bashing, Anti-Semitism, Sexism: If our goal is evangelization, (not offense or defense), then our approach, our reactions, and our mode of being online is entirely different. Spreading the good news about the Church’s teaching on homosexuality does not encompass behavior that name-calls, vilifies, or belittles.

Pope Francis asks us: “When God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?” In the same way, Pope Francis urges us to banish anti-Semitism from our hearts and clearly rejects machismo.

5. Get Lost in the Looking Glass: Are we more concerned with publicizing ourselves or Jesus? Do we flaunt our degrees, our Catholic credentials, or our connections? Do we thirst for “likes” and retweets? Chances are, it is a mixed bag.

We all want to climb higher in others’ esteem but Pope Francis tells us: “If you like climbing go to the mountains and climb them: it is healthier!” Vanity creates discord within the Church and frankly repulses others rather than attracts. We are called to bring people to Jesus, not to ourselves.

So, in the end if we chose to follow the path of Pope Francis, would the Gospel reach more people?

Judging from Pope Francis’ effect on the world, I’d say yes.

I’ll let Pope Francis finish writing this article with his beautiful, germane words from a recent homily:

“You cannot understand a Christian without witness. We are not a ‘religion’ of ideas, of pure theology, beautiful things, of commandments. No, we are a people who follow Jesus Christ and bear witness – who want to bear witness to Jesus Christ – and sometimes this witness leads to laying down our lives.”



About Author

Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble is a sister with the Daughters of St. Paul, a religious congregation that evangelizes through the media. A former atheist, she reverted to Catholicism several years ago and the rest is history. Sr. Theresa Aletheia currently lives in Miami where she prays, evangelizes, bakes bread and blogs.

  • Florian

    I’m confused as to why Sr. Theresa speaks about being charitable and yet points out something Sarah Palin did…she could have left her name off. Sarah Palin is a baptized Catholic who left the faith…I wonder how she would feel having Sr. Theresa point the finger at her…confusing.

    • goral

      Not confusing at all. Sr. Theresa has shown her true hue.

    • Sr. Theresa Noble

      I am not sure how it is uncharitable to point out something that another person has done as an example of what I am talking about.

  • Soliloquized

    The sixth? Calling for the excommunication of Catholic politicians that support late term abortions, such as Biden and Pelosi. In fact, he apparently won’t do that offline either.

    Faith, without good works, is dead. Catholics, without politics, in a political world, are the same. I can tolerate hours of accusations that the Pope is the anti-christ, hours of denigration concerning the seven hills of Rome, I can listen to unjustified exaggerations of the proclivities of priest with children, of the disposal areas in convents for the products of priest/nun liaisons. I can do all that with a smile on my face, I’m Catholic, I’ve heard it all before.

    What I can’t stand? Seeing Catholics vote for liberal politicians, almost exclusively democrats, the same politicians pushing for abortion at any and all stages, there’s even talk now about a mother’s right to terminate babies that survived abortion attempts. I can’t stand seeing Catholics vote for politicians pushing for the dissolution of conventional marriage, pushing for same sex marriages, pushing for the eradication of Christianty throughout this country.

    Our fellow Protestant Evangelicals have it right, they know right from wrong. What happened with us Catholics? A line from a movie, a line which I find profound, is “At the end, we don’t regret what we’ve done, we regret what we’ve failed to do”.

    We’re failing to create a political system in line with our beliefs. If Catholics continue to vote for politicians that oppose our core beliefs, Christianity will cease to exist.

  • Pax

    I keep wanting to like pope Francis, having never met him, he seems humble and practical and loving. I have never seen anything he publicly said that I had specific disagreement with. However, he seems to sow discord wherever he goes, he either naively or intentionally says all kinds of things that can be interpreted in a way that someone who is in grave and terrible sin can use his quotes to justify continuing in those sins. It is one thing to welcome the sinner, but quite another to welcome the sin. Perhaps he is merely terrible at PR. Still, Jesus picked him and I trust Jesus. I don’t know if I’d use him as a example of how to attract people to the church though. Does he attract them for the right reasons? Is the message he sends ‘Neither then do I condemn you , go and sin no more’ or is it ‘there is no such thing as sin and God is a pushover that will except anything you do?’ I keep trying to figure it out , but have yet to see any good evidence that would let me decide.

  • leyla Sheehan-Gruarin

    I hear the ax grinding away in the background…….spend more time on your knees and less time writing Sister……….