Many of us are likely to have heard U.S. President Obama compared to a “rock star”  (often, but not necessarily in a derisive manner) by the mainstream media. Only last week, Bill Maher introduced Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as a “rock star”. Why? Most of our readers know the answer to that – and understand the reason behind the answer.  That said, it should come as no surprise that the current pontiff, His Holiness Pope Francis I, has also been labeled as a “rock star.

The Oxford dictionary defines the term “rock star” (aside from actual successful musical performers in the rock ‘n’ roll genre) as “a person treated as a celebrity, especially in inspiring fanatical admiration.” While Pope Francis and Bernie Sanders may not inspire “fanatical admiration” like Rudolf Valentino, Elvis Presley or the late Michael Jackson, their messages have touched nerves, attracted attention – and have been scaring the hell out of the corporate Powers-That-Be.

On his recent visit to the blue-collar, working class community of Turin, Italy, Pope Francis spoke some very harsh truths. Among those truths: “Everything is done for money.” Even war. The Pope fearlessly called out those calling themselves “Christians” who profit from the manufacture and sale of arms and death machines.

His Holiness states that he understands why many of today’s younger generation feel as if they cannot trust anyone. And why should they? What kind of example have past generations set?

Pope Francis began by acknowledging that during the Second World War, nations that might have saved the lives of Jews (as well as homosexuals, Gypsies, Slavs and “mental defectives”) stood idly by as the Nazis carried out Hitler’s “Final Solution.”  Indeed, many nations in the Western Hemisphere – among them, Canada, the United States, Cuba and the Pope’s own native country of Argentina – either severely restricted Jewish immigration, or refused refugees entry altogether. When it came to bombing targets, the Allied High Command gave priority to manufacturing centers (where slave labor was frequently utilized). Transport infrastructure leading to the death camps was not considered. It is yet another question the Pope raised in his spontaneous address over the weekend.

As Bernie Sanders does for us at home, so too does Pope Francis continue to speak out to the world against evil institutions and social, political and economic systems that have reduced human beings to little more than “commodities.” These evils have nothing to do with one’s choice of marriage partner, or the behavior of women and reproductive rights. They have everything to do with greed and lust for power and control over others. In general, neither Senator Sanders nor Pope Francis have much good to say about the current corporate capitalist system. Even racial hatred that have been resurfacing around the world in recent decades is an artificial construct, invented by early modern capitalists in order to divide and conquer. It should be noted that climate change, another issue the Pope addresses frequently, is a result of greed and an industrial and corporate system out of control – and virtually incapable of change.

An old proverb says, “The more painful the truth, the truer the friend who tells you.” Senator Sanders and Pope Francis are indeed being true friends, though the corporate mainstream media may dismissively label them “rock stars” so they will not be taken seriously. Those truths are nonetheless resonating with an overwhelming majority – and making the “2%” oligarchy very, very nervous.

If that is the definition of “rock star,” we need more like them.

K.J. McElrath is a former history and social studies teacher who has long maintained a keen interest in legal and social issues. In addition to writing for The Ring of Fire, he is the author of two published novels: Tamanous Cooley, a darkly comic environmental twist on Dante's Inferno, and The Missionary's Wife, a story of the conflict between human nature and fundamentalist religious dogma. When not engaged in journalistic or literary pursuits, K.J. works as an entertainer and film composer.