Escaping the Gay Lifestyle and Critiquing Pope Francis’ Politics: An Eric Metaxas Doubleheader
Last week The Eric Metaxas Show ran two more segments I recorded for Eric while he was traveling. Each is worth listening to. Both guests were provocative and insightful. Each speaks from outside the tiny ideological box imposed by the mainstream media. Neither is a guest whom NPR, the New York Times, or even much of the Christian press, would be likely to feature. So I’m all the more grateful to Eric for granting them a platform.
Finding Jesus at the Bottom
The first was Joseph Sciambra. He is also a new contributor here at The Stream. I interviewed Joseph about the whole range of LGBT issues. He brings to that a perspective that is quite literally unique. The title of his memoir says it all: Swallowed by Satan: How Our Lord Jesus Christ Saved Me from Pornography, Homosexuality, and the Occult. How does a lonely, artsy boy end up fleeing to San Francisco at the height of the AIDS epidemic? Then how does he wind up producing gay pornography and delving into dark “spiritualism”? What was it like to be pulled back out of this frightening, tragic world, into the church?
There’s no good reason to stop short of breaking one taboo after another. Not till you have gone almost all the way to the bottom.
I asked Sciambra about this, and he explained in depth. What led him into that lifestyle? A sense of being rejected by other young men. A craving for connection. The culture told him what it tells young people today. That the right way to fill his human emptiness is through erotic “self-expression.” Once you’ve adopted that, instead of a biblical moral code, as your criterion of behavior, all bets are off. There are “literally no limits,” Sciambra said. There’s no good reason to stop short of breaking one taboo after another. Not till you have gone almost all the way to the bottom of desperation and self-destruction.
It was only once he’d crashed into that bottom that Sciambra was open to the still small voice of conscience. He recalled on the air how he lay in a hospital bed with medical conditions resulting from his lifestyle. How his mother prayed over him. He felt a “palpable, personal evil” in the room, contending against his mother for his loyalty. In that moment, he found the strength to ask Christ to banish that evil. From that moment forward, he knew that he’d follow a different path. Despite rejection and scorn from friends still in the lifestyle, Sciambra sought out support from faithful Christians — and found it. Learn more from his column here, and from the moving interview below.
The Pope as a Politician
My next guest was American Spectator contributor George Neumayr. He’s a lifelong Catholic. He used to be the editor of the major religious news magazine Catholic World Report. But Neumayr has largely disappeared from officially Catholic publications in recent years. Why? Because Neumayr was one of the first to identify the sharply politicized nature of Pope Francis’ public statements. Previous popes in the past 100 years weighed in on abstract moral issues. Where necessary they linked them to current events.
But Pope Francis has done almost the reverse, Neumayr says. He has tried to serve as a statesman and shaper of world opinion. He has advanced a very distinct political agenda. But on crucial moral questions, the pope has refused to lead. For instance, the current controversy over communion for divorced and remarried Catholics. Important cardinals pointed out that his own statement on that crucial issue was so ambiguous that it has divided the church. But Pope Francis met their plea for a clarification with silence. Meanwhile he takes to Twitter and does interviews with avowed atheist journalists, addressing climate change and U.S. immigration policy.
Neumayr’s new book, The Political Pope, traces Pope Francis’ political views to their roots in far-left Argentinian “populism.” That’s a movement which arose alongside Liberation Theology, Neumayr said. The two theological factions shared an essentially Marxist view of economics and politics. But “populism” rejected violent revolution. It sought to advance its goal via mass politics instead. Neumayr talked about Pedro Arrupe, the former head of the Jesuits. He promoted the young Jorge Bergoglio to leadership of all Jesuits in Argentina. Arrupe considered the non-violent advancement of Marxism perfectly acceptable for priests. Neumayr also noted the radical views of the pope’s close advisors, who implement many of his policies.
One of these is Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga. He denounces the free market with quotes from Fidel Castro apologists. He also demands that the U.S. open its borders to Latin America. In 2002, Maradiaga was accused of being an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist by Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz. Maradiaga had denied the existence of a clerical sex abuse scandal. He blamed the public furor over the subject on … Jewish media tycoons who resented the Vatican support for the Palestinians.
Another Francis-whisperer is Argentine bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo. He runs two crucial Vatican congregations, one for natural science and the other for social sciences. In 2015, Sorondo stunned theologians when he told an audience that Pope Francis’ opinion on the scientific “consensus” over climate change is just as binding on Catholics as the church’s rejection of abortion.
Check out Neumayr’s new book, and listen to my interview with him on The Eric Metaxas Show.