I am not a Roman Catholic, although I know many who are.

I wasn’t prepared for what Pope Francis had to say, nor how he chose to convey his message.

I am quite pleased to have observed and listened to most of the things Pope Francis subscribes to. No doubt that the Roman Catholic Church in America has lost a great deal of its luster over the past couple of decades for a variety of reasons.

I think if the American R.C. church (and many other religious institutions) can find a way to embrace some of the values this Pope advocates for; our country could come closer to healing.

Related to this observation, the John Boehner thing came as a bit of a surprise, and for a few moments, I was pleased.

Now that some of the background has been exposed, it seems that Boehner has tried very hard to create an environment where civil discussion and debate was at least possible.

It also seems clear that there is a vociferous contingent of ultra-conservative elected officials in D.C. who share a common thread: ‘Take no prisoners: it’s our way or the highway. We don’t negotiate or compromise, ever.’

I guess I knew before the Boehner announcement on 9/25 that there were at least a few elected characters in our Congress who are mean, rigid, callous and intractable.

I just never would have guessed that there were enough of these bigots and curmudgeons to create an environment toxic enough to drive John Boehner back to Ohio, for good.

I guess the Koch Brothers (and some others) are gaining some real traction from their ‘investments’.

Goes to show: You don’t personally need to wear the white hood if you can write enough checks to mobilize an army of fringe fundamentalists who are willing to align with your doctrine.

There are dozens – hundreds – of examples throughout history which support this theory, perhaps the most frightening of which is the rise of Nazism under the leadership of Adolph Hitler.

Perhaps the spirit of Pope Francis will engage and mobilize enough folks who seem to perpetually sit on the sidelines hoping that – magically or mysteriously – the right things will happen.

History tells us that the right things will only happen when people of good will mobilize in a positive way to stop the fringe fundamentalists from taking control of our economy, government and society.

An article published in The Journal News, a Gannet newspaper serving the lower Hudson Valley, reported on an unfortunate incident involving Aron Rottenberg, who recently suffered third-degree burns to half his body.

As the story goes, Rottenberg had been ostracized by the Skver Hasidic sect that runs the Village of New Square because he did not worship at the community’s main synagogue, headed by Grand Rebbe David Twersky.

A letter distributed to the community in November 2010 by New Square’s leadership and rabbinical court warned that not worshipping at the main synagogue was a severe violation and that anyone in violation must be stopped from using the community’s facilities.

Sources reported that Rottenberg’s family had faced growing levels of intimidation in recent months, including broken windows in their home.

Protests outside the Rottenberg home calling on them to leave led to the family installing surveillance cameras.

On Sunday, May 22, Aron Rotteberg confronted a man carrying a rag soaked with flammable liquid behind his home on Truman Avenue and Rottenberg was severely burned during a confrontation.

Rottenberg is in serious condition at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla but is expected to survive.

Meanwhile, as a country, we are spending Zillions of dollars and sacrificing thousands of our soldiers to death or permanent disability in Iraq and Afghanistan, and not more than 60 miles from Ground Zero, we have extreme religious fanatics engaged in early-stage ‘Hassidic Jihad’.

Today, they attack each other because of the PLACE where they worship.

Apparently, this is not even an issue of “what do you believe?” or “How do you live your life?”

What might happen tomorrow?

I’m concerned and angry, but not quite ready to fight personally.

Yet, our TAX DOLLARS are supporting this insane behavior: The fire district; The police; The district attorney; The public defender; The school district. Each of these entities is involved in this case, and it goes on and on.

I think it is inappropriate for the majority to be saddled with the costs of religious fanatics fighting over turf.

This really is no different from the Crips vs. Bloods, or any other iteration of gang behavior.

Best I can tell, this whole mess looks and smells like it has RICO implications.

Where is the US Attorney? The FBI?

If we are to support this circus with tax dollars, let’s get our money’s worth.