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Pope Francis Poems

These are poems written about Pope Francis, who took his name from Saint Francis of Assisi, a man famous for his compassion for animals. Pope Francis was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio. I have also included poems written by and about other popes.

Simple Simon, or, Multiplication Tabled
for Pope Francis
by Michael R. Burch

Be fruitful and multiply?
Great advice .. for a fruitfly!
But for women and men,
Simple Simon, say "When!"

In my poem, "Simon" is a pun, as the name of the first Pope was Simon Peter. But Simon Peter was married, so this begs the question: why are Roman Catholic priests required to remain celibate, if the first and greatest Pope was married? This question seems especially pertinent today because many children have been molested and raped by Catholic priests. Is priestly celibacy the "wisdom of God" or the folly of an error-prone human religion?

Are the Popes wise men, really? They claim to represent an all-powerful God, but they ride around in bulletproof Popemobiles, so they don't really trust Him. They say God is loving, wise and just, but they also say that innocent babies who die unbaptized are in danger of places called "Hell" and "Limbo," even though such infernal regions were never mentioned by the God of the Bible or the Hebrew prophets. Here is a poem of mine about the strange, dark vision of God created by his alleged "representatives," the Popes and Evangelists:

In His Kingdom of Corpses
for Pope Francis

by Michael R. Burch

In His kingdom of corpses,
God has been heard to speak
in many enraged discourses,
high from some mountain peak
where He’s lectured man on compassion
while the sparrows around Him fell,
and babes, for His meager ration
of rain, died and went to hell,
unbaptized, for that’s His fashion.

In His kingdom of corpses,
God has been heard to vent
in many obscure discourses
on the need for man to repent,
to admit that he’s a sinner;
give up sex, and riches, and fame;
be disciplined at his dinner
though always he dies the same,
whether fatter or thinner.

In his kingdom of corpses,
God has been heard to speak
in many absurd discourses
of man’s Ego, precipitous Peak!,
while demanding praise and worship,
and the bending of every knee.
And though He sounds like the Devil,
all religious men now agree
He loves them indubitably.

Please keep in mind that my poem is not about God, per se, but the strange, dark vision of an unjust God created by Christian theologians. If God is able to save human beings by grace, as Christian theologians avow, and if no human being is able to save himself, as they also avow, why would God save one human being at the expense of another? If God is the only Savior, as the Bible repeatedly claims, why doesn't God just save everyone? Human doctors and lifeguards don't cherry-pick one person to save, then throw away next one away as "unworthy." Are human doctors and lifeguards more gracious than God? Lifeguards and doctors save everyone they are able to save ... shouldn't the Savior of the World actually save everyone, if that is his mission?

The problems with Christian theology are legion. For example, the Bible suggests that man is responsible for suffering and death entering the world, due to the "original sin" and "fall" of Adam and Eve. But this makes no sense, because we now know that trillions of animals suffered and died long before man ever walked the planet, and even if the Bible's creation account was true, it makes no sense, because the animals didn't disobey God or obtain the knowledge of good and evil, and yet they still suffer and die. Here's a poem of mine on the subject:

Willy Nilly
for Pope Francis

by Michael R. Burch

for the Demiurge, aka Jehovah

Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?
You made the stallion,
you made the filly,
and now they sleep
in the dark earth, stilly.
Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?

Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?
You forced them to run
all their days uphilly.
They ran till they dropped—
life’s a pickle, dilly.
Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?

Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?
They say I should worship you!
Oh, really!
They say I should pray
so you’ll not act illy.
Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?

Another problem for Popes and Christian theologians is the evil, absurd idea that Jesus Christ will return to earth to become the greatest mass murderer in the history of the planet:

What Would Santa Claus Say
for Pope Francis

by Michael R. Burch

What would Santa Claus say,
I wonder,
about Jesus returning
to Kill and Plunder?

For he’ll likely return
on Christmas Day
to blow the bad
little boys away!

When He flashes like lightning
across the skies
and many a homosexual

when the harlots and heretics
are ripped asunder,
what will the Easter Bunny think,
I wonder?

One thing that galls me about Christian theology is the bizarre idea that miserly Popes and Christian theologians can be saved by "grace," while homosexuals can't. The following poem is from a collection of mine entitled "Why I Left the Religious Right":

I’ve got Jesus’s face on a wallet insert
for Pope Francis
by Michael R. Burch

I’ve got Jesus’s face on a wallet insert
and "Hell is for Queers" on the back of my shirt.
     And I uphold the Law,
     for Grace has a Flaw:
the Church must have someone to drag through the dirt.

I’ve got ten thousand reasons why Hell must exist,
and you’re at the top of my fast-swelling list!
     You’re nothing like me,
     so God must agree
and slam down the Hammer with His Loving Fist!

For what are the chances that God has a plan
to save everyone: even Boy George and Wham!?
     Eternal fell torture
     in Hell’s pressure scorcher
will separate homo from Man.

I’m glad I’m redeemed, ecstatic you’re not.
Did Christ die for sinners? Perish the thought!
     The "good news" is this:
     soon my Vengeance is His!,
for you’re not the lost sheep He sought.

Are the Popes wise men, really? To me, the poets seem wiser. Here's a wonderfully ironic poem by one of the best  American poets. Should men beg God for forgiveness, or vice versa?

Forgive, O Lord
by Robert Frost

Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee
And I'll forgive the great big one on me.

Pope John Paul II

Karol Jozef Wojtyla was an unknown Polish poet before he became world-famous as Pope John Paul II.  Some of his early poems appeared in Polish journals under the pseudonym Andrzej Jawien. His poetry was later collected and published in The Place Within—The Poetry of Pope John Paul II, with translations and notes by Jerzy Peterkiewicz.

Lines from "Meditations on the Book of Genesis: at the Threshold of the Sistine Chapel"
by Karol Jozef Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II)
translation by Jerzy Peterkiewicz

"From dust you came, and to dust you shall return";
What had shape is now shapeless.
What was alive is now dead.
What was beautiful is now the ugliness of decay.
And yet I do not altogether die,
what is indestructible in me remains!…
What is imperishable in me
now stands face to face before Him Who Is!

These are nice lines, but on the other hand, how can a man who claims to be the Vicar of Christ be so profoundly lacking in wisdom that he tells human beings it's a "sin" to use condoms and other contraceptives? To command teenagers not to use condoms is to condemn many of them to harrowing deaths. Who are the Popes, to consign children to dust, before their time? And the ones who don't die prematurely may unwisely contribute to the overpopulation of the planet, with all the suffering that entails.

Pope Benedict XVI

Here's my translation of a poem written in German by Joseph Ratzinger, better known to the world as Pope Benedict XVI:

Gott Allein Genügt
by Joseph Alois Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)

Gott allein genügt:
Was das Herz auch sonst noch liebt,
Was es sehnend will umfangen,
Was es dränget zu erlangen,
Ist von ihm ein Schimmer nur,
Der uns weist auf seine Spur—
Er ist´s, der Dies alles gibt:
Gott allein genügt.

God Alone Is Sufficient
translation by Michael R. Burch

God alone is sufficient:
What else the heart would also love,
What it yearns to embrace,
What it is driven to achieve,
These are merely intimations of Him,
Are merely the spoor that point us toward Him —
He is the One who gives everything:
God alone is sufficient.

But what sort of "loving" God refuses to speak to human beings personally, then damns them to an "eternal hell" for not "believing" in Him? How is it possible for human beings to "love" a God who is so petty, cruel and unjust? I find it impossible to reconcile a God of love, wisdom, justice and compassion with a petty being who has eternal hissy fits if people don't "believe" in him, when he is either unable or unwilling to communicate with them personally. If God loves human beings and wants them to believe in him, why doesn't he just say "Hello"? If he doesn't speak to people, how can he fault them for not believing in him? Is God irrational, or is it the religion that's nuttier than a fruitcake? And while the Popes claim there are rewards for pursuing God, poets like Hillaire Belloc are not so sure:

Is there any reward?
by Hillaire Belloc

Is there any reward?
I'm beginning to doubt it.
I am broken and bored,
Is there any reward
Reassure me, Good Lord,
And inform me about it.
Is there any reward?
I'm beginning to doubt it.

Perhaps the only possible reasonable, compassionate reactions to the "good news" of Christianity are despair and "foxhole humor." In the poem above, Belloc resorts to wry good humor.

My main complaint against Ratzinger/Benedict (very interesting names, for a man who claims to be the Vicar of Christ) is that he has yet to excommunicate a single pedophile from the ranks of Catholic priests, and yet he continues to excommunicate Catholics who are trying to do good things in the world, such as women who offer the sacraments. Which is worse, a woman who offers the sacraments, or a man who rapes innocent children? How can anyone believe that Ratzinger/Benedict is capable of speaking "infallibly," when he doesn't know the first thing about compassion or justice?

Alexander Pope

The most famous Pope to write poetry was not a Roman Pontiff, but an English layman: Alexander Pope. Alexander Pope was a major poet and a wonderful epigrammatist:

I am his Highness' dog at Kew;
Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?
― Alexander Pope

Kings and Popes strive to make other human beings their obedient lapdogs. But are Christian parents "wise" to allow their children to be trained to jump through the hoops of an unjust religion, like poodles? Alexander Pope's ironic lines question the "divine right" of Kings and the self-appointed tyrants of organized religion: Popes, Cardinals, Bishops and evangelists like Billy Graham. What right do these tyrants have to tell children that if they don't believe as they're commanded, they'll go to "Hell" and suffer for all eternity? Could a loving, wise, just God have concocted such a hateful, irrational, unjust religion?

An honest man's the noblest work of God.
― Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope's epigram begs the question: are the Popes honest men, or do they play loose, dangerous games with the "truth"? The dogma of "Hell" is the perfect (or, more correctly, perfectly evil) example. According to the Old Testament a place called "Hell" and the possibility of suffering after death were never even mentioned by God or his prophets. Anyone who has studied the Old Testament knows that "hell" was never mentioned to Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Lot, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, King David, Solomon, et al. Therefore "Hell" clearly did not pre-exist. But there is no verse in the entire Bible in which the creation and purpose of "hell" were ever announced. ("Hell" just pops up in some of the later-written books of the Bible like the weasel in the silly song.) But if the Bible is the revelation of a loving, wise, just God, then surely he would have announced the creation and purpose of "Hell" if he created it, along with detailed instructions about how to avoid it. But he didn't. Obviously "Hell" was invented by Christian "theologians" because it was very, very good for church business. Later, long after the New Testament books had been canonized, the Catholic Church and its "theologians" would also invent "Limbo" out of thin air, saying innocent babies unlucky enough to die without being splashed with magical water by even-more-magical priests would be denied the grace of God, and thus entrance to heaven. But of course Jesus, Peter, Paul and the other apostles never once mentioned the urgent need for newborn babies to be splashed with water, in order to avoid eternal suffering. If Jesus was the Son of God, why didn't he know anything about Limbo, the need for infant baptism, or the mysterious "age of accountability," which Protestants invented when they decided they didnt' need magical priests to keep babies from going to hell? And how can anyone believe in the "infallibility" of Popes who invent places like "Hell," "Limbo" and "Purgatory," then use them to cause Christian mothers two millennia of terrible emotional anguish, by making them believe  such evil nonsense? What sort of "God" punishes babies for dying before they're old enough to believe such sickening crap? (By the way, Pope Benedict now seems to be saying that Limbo doesn't really exist, but then how can he explain 1,500 years of Catholic waffling on the issue, if hundreds of other Catholic Popes were able to speak infallibly and spare Christian parents so much anguish? "Oh, what a tangled web we weave / when first we practice to deceive!")

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
― Alexander Pope

Popes claim that God causes or allows unbaptized babies to suffer for all eternity, in "Hell" or "Limbo." Would any angel dare make such a terrible claim?

The Archpoet

My favorite poet on religious matters is the Archpoet, a medieval Latin poet. He wrote on the cusp of the first Inquisition and was no fan of highly dubious Christian theology. His wonderfully heretical "Confession" should cause the Popes to reconsider their blasphemies, which turn God into the Devil:

His Confession
by the Archpoet

circa 1165; translated from
the  original Medieval Latin
by Helen Waddell

Seething over inwardly
With fierce indignation,
In my bitterness of soul,
Hear my declaration.
I am of one element,
Levity my matter,
Like enough a withered leaf
For the winds to scatter.

Since it is the property
Of the sapient
To sit firm upon a rock,
it is evident
That I am a fool, since I
Am a flowing river,
Never under the same sky,
Transient for ever.

Hither, thither, masterless
Ship upon the sea,
Wandering through the ways of air,
Go the birds like me.
Bound am I by ne'er a bond,
Prisoner to no key,
Questing go I for my kind,
Find depravity.

Never yet could I endure
Soberness and sadness,
Jests I love and sweeter than
Honey find I gladness.
Whatsoever Venus bids
Is a joy excelling,
Never in an evil heart
Did she make her dwelling.

Down the broad way do I go,
Young and unregretting,
Wrap me in my vices up,
Virtue all forgetting,
Greedier for all delight
Than heaven to enter in:
Since the soul is in me dead,
Better save the skin.

Pardon, pray you, good my lord,
Master of discretion,
But this death I die is sweet,
Most delicious poison.
Wounded to the quick am I
By a young girl's beauty:
She's beyond my touching? Well,
Can't the mind do duty?

Hard beyond all hardness, this
Mastering of Nature:
Who shall say his heart is clean,
Near so fair a creature?
Young are we, so hard a law,
How should we obey it?
And our bodies, they are young,
Shall they have no say in’t?

Sit you down amid the fire,
Will the fire not burn you?
To Pavia come, will you
Just as chaste return you?
Pavia, where Beauty draws
Youth with finger-tips,
Youth entangled in her eyes,
Ravished with her lips.

Let you bring Hippolytus,
In Pavia dine him,
Never more Hippolytus
Will the morning find him.
In Pavia not a road
But leads to venery
Nor among its crowding towers
One to chastity.

Yet a second charge they bring:
I'm forever gaming.
Yea, the dice hath many a time
Stripped me to my shaming
When an if the body's cold,
If the mind is burning,
On the anvil hammering,
Rhymes and verses turning?

Look again upon your list.
Is the tavern on it?
Yea, and never have I scorned,
Never shall I scorn it,
Till the holy angels come,
And my eyes discern them,
Singing for the dying soul,
Requiem aeternam.

For on this my heart is set:
When the hour is nigh me,
Let me in the tavern die,
With a tankard by me,
While the angels looking down
Joyously sing o'er me,
Deus sit propitius
Huic potatori.

'Tis the fire that's in the cup
Kindles the soul's torches,
‘Tis the heart that drenched in wine
Flies to heaven's porches.
Sweeter tastes the wine to me
In a tavern tankard
That the watered stuff my Lord
Bishop has decanted.

Let them fast and water drink,
All the poets' chorus,
Fly the market and the crowd
Racketing uproarious.
Sit in quiet spots and think,
Shun the tavern's portal
Write, and never having lived,
Die to be immortal.

Never hath the spirit of
Poetry descended,
Till with food and drink my lean
Belly was distended,
But when Bacchus lords it in
My cerebral story,
Comes Apollo with a rush,
Fills me with his glory.

Unto every man his gift.
Mine was not for fasting.
Never could I find a rhyme
With my stomach wasting.
As the wine is, so the verse:
'Tis a better chorus
When the landlord hath a good
Vintage set before us.

Good my lord, the case is heard,
I myself betray me,
And affirm myself to be
All my fellows say me.
See, they in thy presence are:
Let whoe’er hath known
His own heart and found it clean,
Cast at me the stone.

Related Pages: Marilyn Monroe Poems, Muhammad Ali Poems, Albert Einstein Poems Abraham Lincoln Poems, Mark Twain Poems, Nelson Mandela Poems, Pope Francis Poems, Ronald Reagan Poems

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