TIME celebrities

Here’s What Stephen Colbert Would Ask Pope Francis

Let's hope the pontiff pays a visit to the Late Show when he visit the U.S. in September

Comedian Stephen Colbert spoke to the Catholic magazine America about his faith in a video released Monday, and revealed what he would like to ask Pope Francis if given the opportunity.

“What do you do to get that smile on your face in the morning?” the fervent Catholic says he would ask the Pope. “What’s your regime in the morning?”

Colbert—who has apparently taken the opportunity to grow a full beard before taking over the Late Show from David Letterman in September—says he tries to get up every morning, smile, and say “yes” after a morning ritual practiced by Mother Teresa.

During the interview, Colbert shared his favorite scriptures and admits that while he usually gives up some form of food or booze for Lent, he hadn’t decided what to give up this year.

Be sure to watch to the end of the video below to see Colbert dance and sing one of his favorite hymns.

TIME Congress

7 Times World Leaders Addressed Congress

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to address Congress on Tuesday, a speech that has raised tensions with the Obama Administration because it wasn’t consulted before House Speaker John Boehner made the invite—and it comes two weeks before Israeli elections.

From boundary-pushing leaders to controversial figures and world-changing peace visits, here are seven other times foreign dignitaries addressed a joint session of Congress.

TIME faith

Pope Francis Rails Against Modern ‘Throwaway Culture’

Pope Francis delivers his speech during a special audience with members of the confederation of Italian cooperatives in Paul VI hall at the Vatican
Tony Gentile—Reuters Pope Francis delivers his speech during a special audience with members of the confederation of Italian cooperatives at the Vatican, Feb. 28, 2015.

Condemns the global economic order once again

Pope Francis has once again spoken out about the global economic climate, decrying an economic system that “seems fatally destined to suffocate hope and increase risks and threats.”

Speaking in Rome, the Pope condemned what he called a “throwaway culture created by the powers that control the economic and financial policies of the globalized world.”

But he proposed a solution of sorts, in the form of economic cooperatives that would help spread wealth equally: “Money at the service of life can be managed in the right way by cooperatives, on condition that it is a real cooperative where capital does not have command over men but men over capital.”

He quoted his namesake, St Francis of Assisi, in calling money the “devil’s dung,” according to Vatican Radio. “When money becomes an idol, it controls man’s choices,” he added. “It makes him a slave.”

This is far from the first time the Pope has addressed the condition of the working class in the globalized world; in a speech at the U.N. last year, the Pope asked world leaders to redistribute wealth.

[Vatican Radio]

TIME Vatican

Pope Francis Knocked for ‘Mexicanization’ Remark

Pope Francis addresses the crowd from the window of the apostolic palace overlooking Saint Peter's square during his Angelus prayer on Feb. 22, 2015 at the Vatican.
Tiziana Fabi—AFP/Getty Images Pope Francis addresses the crowd from the window of the apostolic palace overlooking Saint Peter's square during his Angelus prayer on Feb. 22, 2015 at the Vatican.

The Vatican said he meant no offense

The Vatican said Wednesday that Pope Francis “absolutely did not intend to offend the Mexican people” when he appeared to express concern that drug trafficking was making his native Argentina resemble Mexico.

Over the weekend, the Pope wrote in an email to Argentine lawmaker and friend Gustavo Vera, “Hopefully we are in time to avoid Mexicanization,” referring to the country’s drug trade, the Associated Press reports. After Vera published the email on the website for his organization, the Alameda Foundation, Mexico formally complained that the Pope was unnecessarily “stigmatizing Mexico” despite the country’s efforts to battle drug cartels there.

In response, the Vatican sent Mexico’s ambassador an official note and said the Pope’s choice of words were taken from a informal, private email that merely borrowed language Vera himself had used as lawmaker battling Argentina’s own drug trade.

“The Pope intended only to emphasize the seriousness of the phenomenon of the drug trafficking that afflicts Mexico and other countries in Latin America,” Vatican spokesperson Rev. Federico Lombardi said. “It is precisely this importance that has made the fight against drug trafficking a priority for the government.”

[AP]

TIME conflict

Pope Francis Condemns ISIS Killing of Coptic Christians

VATICAN-MASS-POPE-CARDINALS
Andreas Solaro—AFP/Getty Images Pope Francis leads a mass on February 15, 2015 at St. Peter's basilica in Vatican.

'The blood of our Christian brothers is a witness that cries out'

Pope Francis on Monday condemned the killing of 21 Coptic Christians hostages in Libya by militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), according to a Vatican Radio report.

“The blood of our Christian brothers is a witness that cries out,” he told a delegation from Scotland on Monday. “If they are Catholic, Orthodox, Copts, Lutherans, it is not important: They are Christians. The blood is the same: It is the blood which confesses Christ.”

Read More: Beheading of Coptic Christians in Libya Shows ISIS Branching Out

The hostages, believed to be laborers from Egypt, are now “martyrs,” Francis said.

The Libyan extremist group, which swears fealty to ISIS, released a five-minute video Sunday showing militants with knives killing 21 people wearing orange jumpsuits on a beach.

Egyptian authorities confirmed the authenticity of the video, and President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi launched air strikes against targets in Libya hours after vowing to avenge the deaths.

TIME faith

Is Pope Francis Too Political?

Pope Francis Leads Extraordinary Consistory
Franco Origlia—Getty Images Pope Francis attends the opening session of the Extraordinary Consistory for the creation of new cardinals at the Synod Hall on Feb. 12, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican.

Russia’s leading nineteenth-century philosopher would say “no”

History News Network

This post is in partnership with the History News Network, the website that puts the news into historical perspective. The article below was originally published at HNN.

The New Republic (NR) recently featured an article by Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig entitled “Pope Francis: Radical Leftist?” It quoted a piece in The Week entitled “How Pope Francis allows politics to distort the Christian faith.” Its author called instead for “a truly humble papacy, where politics is avoided.” The charge that the pope is too political is not new and has just intensified in rightwing circles since Rush Limbaugh claimed in 2013 that the pope’s words regarding capitalism were “just pure Marxism.”

In addition to the pope’s criticism of the excesses of capitalism and globalization, he has voiced opinions on numerous other issues including climate change, poverty, inequality, and gay rights. Two recent papal actions, his advancing the case of the assassinated Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero for sainthood and the pope’s agreement to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress when he visits the USA in September, also have strong political implications. As HNN editor Rick Shenkman points out in commenting on an article in The Nation, “the Pope’s selection of Romero reflects a conscious embrace of liberation theology,” which “conservative forces in the Catholic Church long opposed.”

In The Nation article (by Greg Grandin) we can read more about the background of this theology and why conservatives opposed it, for example, that it aligned “the church with the poor” and condemned “US-backed militarism.” It does not mention, however, that both of Francis’s predecessors criticized it. As I have mentioned elsewhere, John Paul II was convinced that the communist rule he had experienced in Poland was evil and that liberation theology reflected too much Marxian influence. Before succeeding John Paul II, Benedict XVI had authored two criticisms of liberation theology, Instruction on Certain Aspects of the “Theology of Liberation” and Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation. In some preliminary notes in 1984, he acknowledged that there were different forms of this theology but that his criticism was directed at “those theologies which, in one way or another, have embraced the marxist fundamental option” and that “an analysis of the phenomenon of liberation theology reveals that it constitutes a fundamental threat to the faith of the Church.”

The NR piece mentioned above in the first paragraph noted that rightwing thinkers have not objected to papal statements supportive of their views and that it is fallacious to think that religion should be kept separate from politics—a mistake that leftwingers also sometimes make.

All of this controversy about the pope’s “politics” reminds me of a similar one I wrote about long ago (in a 1968 dissertation). And that controversy occurred in the late nineteenth century. It involved Russia’s leading philosophic and religious thinker, Vladimir Soloviev, and a group of conservative nationalists I labeled Russophiles. Their argument stemmed from Soloviev’s alliance with Russian liberals and his belief that religion was not just a private matter but should infuse our political actions.

Born in 1853, Soloviev had been a friend of Dostoevsky, who was a generation older, and up until the novelist’s death in 1881 the young philosopher (and poet) had been considered more of a religious conservative than a liberal. But as with the nationalistic Dostoevsky, Soloviev believed that humans could help usher in the Kingdom of God on earth, and this belief encouraged a more activist approach to change than that entertained by Russophiles. During the 1880’s Soloviev’s criticism of anti-Semitism and Russian nationalism increasingly alienated him from conservatives. His opposition to the execution of the assassins of Alexander II (in 1881) and his ecumenical thinking, which Russophiles considered too pro-papal, also angered them. But it was not until the late 1880s that Soloviev began cooperating with liberals in the pursuit of the common good, of a more just social and political order, which he thought was a necessary prelude to ushering in any Kingdom of God on earth.

Like many conservative Americans today who believe the USA is exceptional—“the United States does continue to differ from most other developed democratic countries. And the heart of that difference is religion” (see also GOP platform statement)—many of the Russophiles thought that Russia was uniquely good. They thought it was better than other countries because it best reflected true Christian principles. Soloviev, however, disagreed, he thought that Russia was unjust in many ways, for example in discriminating against its many non-Russian nationalities—by 1897 Russians were outnumbered in their own empire by all the “minorities” in it such as Ukrainians, Poles, and its many Muslim peoples. To Soloviev’s mind, an unjust society could not be truly Christian. Justice was a minimal demand for creating a Christian society, and he stated that many non-believing seekers of justice and progress were more truly Christian than those who called themselves Christian but defended injustices such as discrimination.

When a severe famine struck Russia in 1891, the tsarist government at first attempted to downplay the crisis and prevent independent social efforts to alleviate it, but Soloviev, Leo Tolstoy, and many Russian liberals cooperated to awaken public opinion and aid the famished. Soloviev criticized the Russophiles for refusing to join with liberals in the aid effort. But the Russophiles, like many U.S. conservatives today, believed that it was dangerous to cooperate with liberals, that doing so might pollute the faith of Christian believers.

For Russophiles, saving one’s soul was the chief task of any good Christian. Sure, one should be kind to one’s neighbor and practice private charity; but politics, they believed, should be left to the Christian autocratic tsar and his ministers. If the common people became too involved with politics, with private institutions, with trying to change laws, it would just corrupt their Christian souls.

Reading some of Pope Francis’s words and about liberation theology and its opponents, one senses a similar conflict to that between Soloviev and his conservative opponents. Like Russia in the 1890s, the Latin America in which liberation theology, Salvadoran Archbishop Romero, and Pope Francis all matured was an area peopled by a rich elite and a majority of poor people, mainly peasants; and the Church was mainly affiliated with conservative, authoritarian regimes. And as in Russia, only a small minority of church leaders, like Romero, were sympathetic to a theology of change, which criticized existing society and stressed providing more help for the poor.

In the late 1890s, Soloviev wrote his major philosophic work dealing with ethics, The Justification of the Good. In it he maintained that the main role of the government was to aid and defend the weak—each individual “should have secured to him material means necessary for worthy existence and development, and we should “pity those who labor and are heavy laden, and not . . . set a lower value upon them.” Not only was Soloviev critical of unbridled capitalism, but he also believed that its proponents failed to value sufficiently our common environment. He believed that seeking “material wealth as the end of economic activity may be called the original sin of political economy.” Furthermore he stated that humans have an obligation “not to misuse, exhaust, or devastate it [the environment], but to improve it, to bring it to greater power and fullness of being. Neither our fellow-men nor material nature must be a mere passive or impersonal instrument of economic production or exploitation.”

Pope Francis’s 2013 criticism of capitalism and his more recent claim that global warming is primarily manmade—“I don’t know if it (human activity) is the only cause, but mostly, in great part, it is man who has slapped nature in the face”—sound very much like Soloviev in the 1890s. For months, the pope has been working on an encyclical on the environment and global warming, which he hopes to complete by this summer. Chances are good that when it appears conservative global warming deniers will criticize it, and some will say that he should stick to religion. But like the Russian Soloviev more than a century ago, Pope Francis believes that our religious beliefs should inspire and infuse our efforts to further the common good.

Walter G. Moss is a professor emeritus of history at Eastern Michigan University and Contributing Editor of HNN. For a list of his recent books and online publications, click here. His most recent book is “An Age of Progress? Clashing Twentieth-Century Global Forces” (Anthem Press, 2008).

TIME Family

This Chart Shows Most Americans Agree with Pope Francis on Spanking

Pope Francis Leads Mass With Members Of The Institutes Of Consecrated Life
Franco Origlia—Getty Images Pope Francis speaks during a Mass at St. Peter's Basilica on Feb. 2, 2015 in Vatican City.

Spanking isn't all that controversial for most parents in the U.S.

Pope Francis angered child abuse activists this week when he suggested it was ok for parents to discipline a disobedient child with a smack “if dignity was maintained.”

The comments, apparently in support of corporal punishment, fly in the face of consistent research that’s found spanking has essentially no positive effect on children and may actually harm them in the long run.

Still, as it turns out, spanking isn’t all that controversial for most parents in the U.S., black or white, high school dropouts or college graduates.

More than three quarters of men and 65% of women in the United States say they support giving children the occasional “good, hard spanking,” as TIME highlighted in parenting feature The Discipline Wars.

Sources: Child Trends’ original analysis of the General Social Survey 2012

The numbers are only marginally lower than in 1985, when 84% of men and 82% of women said they supported the practice.

Views around the world are somewhat mixed—43 countries, including Francis’ native Argentina, ban corporal punishment. Still, all of North America and most of Western Europe either explicitly allow it or have no laws on the books.

But even supporters of the occasional spanking draw the line somewhere. The father who prompted Francis to discuss the issue in the first place, for instance, said he would never try to “humiliate” his child. In his remarks, Francis said that parents should only “correct with firmness” when it is done “justly.”

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TIME Religion

Pope Francis Just Showed He’s Not Afraid to Part With the American Right

<> on February 4, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican.
Franco Origlia—Getty Images Pope Francis attends his weekly public audience at the Paul VI Hall on February 4, 2015 in Vatican City.

Christopher Hale is a senior fellow at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and the co-founder of Millennial.

In naming Oscar Romero a martyr, he took a strong stand against those who would call the Salvadorean a communist

On Tuesday, Pope Francis declared that Salvadorean Archbishop Oscar Romero was martyred “in hatred of the faith” and not killed for simply political reasons. Francis’s decision came nearly 35 years after Romero was assassinated by a right-wing death squad while celebrating Mass on March 24, 1980. His announcement opens the door for Romero’s beatification, the final stop on the road to sainthood in the Catholic Church.

But the decision is not without controversy. Though the Vatican formally began the process to canonize Romero in 1997, it was blocked for years as Rome navigated a wider debate across the United States and global Catholic community about whether Romero was killed for defending the faith or for taking strong political stances against the Salvadorean government.

During his pastoral ministry in San Salvador, Romero preached strongly against the violence that the military government committed against its political enemies—particularly against the nation’s poor and excluded. In a passionate homily the Sunday before his death, Romero called on the military to end the violence:

No one has to obey an immoral law. It is high time you recovered your consciences and obeyed your consciences rather than a sinful order. The church, the defender of the rights of God, of the law of God, of human dignity, of the person, cannot remain silent before such an abomination … In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people whose cries rise to heaven more loudly each day, I implore you, I beg you, I order you in the name of God: stop the repression.

Many fault Catholic prelates for getting too involved in politics. But it’s important to note that when the Church engages in politics, it isn’t to pursue a political end, but rather to defend the dignity and the well being of God’s people. So Francis’s decision to honor Romero confirms what so many Catholics know to be true: to defend the poor is to defend the faith. Francis himself has made this clear: “We have to state, without mincing words, that there is an inseparable bond between our faith and the poor.”

Sadly, many within the Church and throughout society have tried to suggest that Romero’s consistent defense of the poor was somehow motivated by communist sentiments. Perhaps Romero could share the words of his contemporary, Brazilian Archbishop Hélder Câmara, who said, “When I feed the poor, they call me a saint, but when I ask why the poor are hungry, they call me a communist.”

But as Vatican reporter Inés San Martín rightly notes, Romero “condemned capitalism [while] at the same time he was fighting communism. In his sermons, he cautioned against the dangers of atheistic, materialistic Marxism and chastised leftists for criticizing American imperialism while turning a blind eye to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.”

Many Americans are also uncomfortable that Romero stood up to a military government largely supported and subsidized by the United States. Romero himself took note of this situation and wrote to President Jimmy Carter, “The contribution of your government instead of promoting greater justice and peace in El Salvador will without doubt sharpen the injustice and repression against the organizations of the people which repeatedly have been struggling to gain respect for their most fundamental human rights.”

In light of Francis’s September trip to the United States, Romero’s beatification will likely only increase the discomfort of those Americans who presuppose that the pope and Catholic Church will rubber-stamp the current political and economic status quo of the United States, including potential 2016 presidential candidate Marco Rubio, who seemed dismayed at Francis’s latest intervention in American foreign diplomacy.

This is clearly a man (and a Church) who isn’t afraid to challenge the most powerful nation in the world. As is becoming more and more clear every day, Francis’s apostolic voyage across the Atlantic will be a chance for our nation to re-examine itself and its activities against the highest of moral standards.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to people of faith, however. After all, it was Jesus himself who told us that the nations will be judged at the end of time by a single criterion alone: “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME faith

Pope Francis Recognizes Slain Salvadorean Bishop as a Martyr

Oscar Anrnulfo Romero
AP Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero who was gunned down while giving Mass in a San Salvador church on March 24, 1980.

Oscar Romero was killed in 1980 in "hatred of the faith," Pope Francis declared

Pope Francis on Tuesday formally declared Salvadorean Archbishop Oscar Romero was a martyr for the Catholic faith, just months after lifting a ban on the beautification of the Archbishop.

Romero, who was killed by right-wing militants in 1980 after speaking out against army repression at the start of the country’s bloody civil war, has long been seen as a hero among Latin American Catholics.

Francis, the first Latin American pope, said Romero was killed in “hatred of the faith,”the National Catholic Reporter says, and declared him a martyr — setting him on the path toward eventual sainthood.

The Vatican had previously been concerned Romero had practiced liberation theology—an interpretation of the Christian faith considered politically far left—and long blocked his beatification, despite the fact that he was killed while celebrating Mass.

[National Catholic Reporter]

 

 

 

TIME portfolio

The 32 Most Surprising Photos of the Month

From fireworks in Munich to tiger cubs in London, TIME shares the most outrageous images from January 2015

Phil Bicker, who edited this photo essay, is a Senior Photo Editor at TIME

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