Over a year ago, I wrote about the “Oprahfication” of our churches. The gist of the piece was to push back against the subtle transformation of our Catholic culture and identity, from one rooted in the liturgy and sacraments to one based on good feelings and sentimentalism. We’ve all experienced it. Is this a homily or a Stuart Smalley group therapy session? The renovations of so many churches to reflect a soft-sofa, warm fuzzies view of the spiritual life (often to the detriment of the sacraments and doctrine) show how serious and widespread this problem is. The traditional, vertical orientation of churches and worship, directed first to God, was swapped out for a horizontal take, focusing instead on the “I” and the “faith community”. But where is the true community, the communio, without Christ, the fons et origo of our unity?
So with that in mind, I recently came across this article from The Daily Beast by Asawin Suebsaeng. You’ve heard of Oprah? Well, now we also have “Poprah”! Pope Francis meets Oprah. I kid you not. Recently, Pope Francis gave some insightful tips on living a happy life, and, before you could say “Yes we can!” the “logical” connection to Oprah was made. It was only a matter of time before it happened. From Suebsaeng’s article:
Pope Francis—who routinely surprises believers and nonbelievers alike by doing things such as espousing revolutionary environmentalism and denouncing unbridled capitalism as “tyranny”—has just released his top 10 tips for achieving personal happiness. The holy listicle serves as further proof that the 2013 papal conclave elected Oprah as the new pope. “Poprah,” if you will.
(For now, ignore the egregious, sweeping generalizations and inaccuracies in that excerpt.) We’ve written for some time about the media’s love fest with Pope Francis. It’s clearly by design, in order to co-opt the Holy Father and attempt to rewrite the narrative about the Church’s teaching with Pope and Change, yada, yada, yada. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke touched on this agenda in an excellent editorial on Pope Francis:
Surely, persons whose hearts are hardened against the truth will read something very different into the approach of Pope Francis, claiming that, in fact, he intends to abandon certain teachings of the Church which our totally secularized culture rejects. Their false praise of the Holy Father’s approach mocks the fact that he is the Successor of Saint Peter, totally grounded in the Beatitudes, and that, therefore, with humble trust in God alone, he rejects the acceptance and praise of the world.
So how are faithful Catholics going to defend the Holy Father against this agenda? To compare the successor to Saint Peter to Oprah might make for a good soundbite, and it will probably be somewhat effective, but it is ridiculous. We shouldn’t relent in defending the real Pope Francis to the world and, in the process, dismantle the pop culture liberal caricature the media, and scribblers over at The Daily Beast, are carefully crafting of him.