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The Latest Rage: #PopeCrush


There is a pink elephant in the room. It’s name is the religious right, and I am calling it out. Turns out they do not like the Pope (though many others do: #popecrush). What has caused this rift, you ask? Well, as it turns out, he is too much like Jesus.

Recently, I encouraged practical steps toward cultivating the power of love. Now, I’ll muse on the passion of the Pope, the power of hate, and our own responsibility in helping all of humanity heal and rise above hatred.

This new Pope is different. He is actively engaged in a compassionate mission with the same message as Jesus. In Argentina, before he became Pope, it was not without controversy that Francis would sneak out many a night to feed and help the poor. Kind of radical, right? There are now “concerns” from within the Vatican that he is still doing this kind of work (the work Jesus would have done.)

Also, last year, at a special ceremony he “brazenly” washed the feet of a young girl, who happened to be Muslim. This double no-no sent traditionalists through the roof (mostly because she was a girl, but probably too because she was not a Christian.) They have never recovered.

But perhaps most surprisingly, recently, he spoke out against greed, highlighting capitalism (remember Jesus’ tirade through the marketplace?). He said “trickle down economics” had never been proven to work, and was in fact harming the world, creating an imbalance of wealth, which threatens not just the poor, but the middle class and wealthy as well. This notion is even being backed up by some on Wall Street. In this specifically, he has made an unlikely enemy: the religious right and capitalist ideologues in congress.

This year, in the United States, a bipartisan congressional group suggested that, with the historic visit of the Pope in 2015, we would do well to honor him with a proclamation. But of the approximately 250 votes in favor, only 19 of them were Republican, and the proclamation fell well short of enough votes to pass. Then, word was leaked from inside the Republican party that no one within the Republican party wanted to pass the proclamation because the Pope’s words were too much like Obama’s—that is—with a liberal agenda. This would be hilarious if it weren’t so tragic.

Hate is such an insidious tumor. It’s starts out as something fairly benign, even perhaps justifiable. At first it’s quiet, silent, obedient, and maybe even undefined. It’s a resentment, a frustration, an ego battle. We have all experienced hate.

In yoga, it is said that the mind makes a wonderful servant, but a terrible master, and I can think of no area where this is more true than with hate. If it festers in the heart and soul, it grows. It grows so much that it takes over it’s host, and starts running the show. It’s the tail wagging the dog. I’m no expert, but it appears that what is happening in the Middle East seems to be the result of endlessly festering hate from both sides.

We would all do well to reflect on where our beliefs harbor hate and resentment. Mystics and spiritual leaders are have asked this of us for several millennia, in order to avoid the inevitable escalation we are now seeing in Gaza. I know it’s an epic task, but it must be done if we are to survive ourselves on this planet. How can we expect politicians to be any different from us?

If you are a religious conservative, you’re probably not reading this. But I am speaking to the rest of us—those of us somewhere in the middle, those of us who have been willing to fall apart time and time again until we find ways to love even more, so that humanity has a chance at survival.

There are practical steps toward love found here, so let’s lift up our spirits and find a way to inner, then outer peace. Maybe then we’ll be able to shift the politics of God from hate, to love. Humanity depends on it.

#PopeCrush on.

Will Donnelly

Will Donnelly is a nationally recognized, certified yoga teacher and writer, and is the author of “Practical Yoga’s Wisdom for Everyday People: Essays & Inspiration for Life" (2017), a compilation of his most popular online essays now available at Will has been a pioneer in the field of yoga, developing Practical Yoga, and co-creating a yoga–reality series for fitTV (Discovery Communications, 2004). As a writer and teacher, Will encourages all students to trust their impulses and find their true voice. Will currently lives in Hawaii, where he leads weekly yoga and writing classes at Kalani retreat center. He also leads several popular Practical Yoga adventure and healing retreats throughout the year. Information on retreats, his book, DVDs and other inspiration to be found at

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