Jorge Mario Bergoglio, better known as Pope Francis, has consistently criticized the traditions and practices of the Catholic Church he was selected to lead. He has railed against what he characterized as the “theological narcissism” of the venerable Roman Catholic Church; he has declared holy war on the financial excesses and corruption of the all-powerful Curia, the papal court; and, he has even dared re-examine the role of women in the Church. 

According to the predominantly Italian bureaucracy that runs the day-to-day operation of the Holy See, this outsider is intent on overturning hallowed practices and traditions. Here comes this Latin American from Argentina with the gall to question the very Church he was elected to lead. 

Sound familiar? Well, if not, let me draw a parallel closer, geographically, to home. A gangly, bi-racial man who looks and talks like a black man is elected president of the most powerful country on the planet, has recently been accused of not loving America. His accuser, ironically, is of Italian descent, whose people arrived in America via Ellis Island. These hard-working, family-oriented people looking for a better life were immediately relegated to second-class citizenship. They were victims of discrimination, stereotyping and had their patriotism questioned during the Great Wars. Nonetheless, they persisted, protested and created a better America for their children.

Yet today one of their descendants, not so subtly, implies that President Obama does not love America. What Rudy Giuliani actually said was, “He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up, through love of this country.” 

Well, I guess it’s true that we were all brought up differently. There is no one standard template that every American follows in raising their children. Contrary to popular opinion, we are not all born equal — rather, we are all born and, might I add, raised differently. How we were raised should not impugn our patriotism.

 Each of us experiences America in our own unique way. Woman experience America differently from men, minorities differently from the majority; Muslims differently from Christians; and poor people differently from rich people. I can speak only for myself when I say that, despite the challenges and hassles that come with being black in America, I love this country! Because I am critical of my country does not mean I do not love it. Just as when I am critical of my children, it does not mean that I don’t love them. It simply means that I know they can be and do better.

I could make the argument that, because a young Rudy Giuliani requested and received six deferments during the Vietnam War, it meant he did not love his country as much as the men and women who served. No, I wouldn’t make that argument. I wouldn’t question his patriotism if he had a moral objection to that war and felt America would be better served by getting out of Vietnam. 

How we show our love might differ from how someone else might show their love. Some people are comfortable with public displays of affection while others love privately but just as deeply.

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