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Mythology/Religion, Society/Culture

Pope Francis: Don’t Believe the Hype!

The hype surrounding the new Pope has to stop. There’s nothing progressive about Pope Francis. Whatever the TV or your friends are repeating is false or completely out of context. Let me walk you through some of the most talked-about points:

Homosexuality

We all heard the now famous line from the Pope when asked about homosexuals in 2013:

“If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this in a beautiful way, saying … wait a moment, how does it say it … it says: “no one should marginalize these people for this, they must be integrated into society”.” [1]

This simple response took the world by storm and I agree with some of the hype. Truly, those are words which have never been uttered by any Pope before him; however, the Pope is far from being in favor of gay rights.

The truth is that as bishop and Pope, Francis restated the Church’s principle: that homosexual practice is intrinsically immoral. As bishop of Argentina, he opposed same-sex marriage, including the 2010 bill to introduce it in Argentina. In July 2010, while the law was under consideration, he wrote a letter to Argentina’s cloistered nuns in which he said the Argentine nuclear family could be seriously harmed. He thought that children would face discrimination and lose the development that a father and mother give. [2]

“Let’s not be naive: This is not a simple political fight; it is a destructive proposal to God’s plan. This is not a mere legislative proposal (that’s just its form), but a move by the father of lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God … Let’s look to St. Joseph, Mary, and the Child to ask fervently that they defend the Argentine family in this moment… May they support, defend, and accompany us in this war of God.”

His “who am I to judge” statement has been taken completely out of context. They were empty words. It changes nothing. The Pope and his Church have not deviated from their centuries old position.

A few months after his “kind” words, the Vatican released a statement that denied that the Pontiff supports gay unions. [3] Shortly after, in 2015, Pope Francis declared that “the family is threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage” and suggested that same-sex marriage “disfigures God’s plan for creation”. [4]

Lastly, in case there is any confusion left, the Pontiff supported the Slovak referendum on banning gay marriage and gay adoption in an address to St. Peter’s Square, stating: “I wish to express my appreciation to the entire Slovak church, encouraging everyone to continue their efforts in defense of the family, the vital cell of society. [5]

And just for fun: Pope Francis met with Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses, during his recent visit to the United States. Mrs. Davis’s lawyer said that the Pope “thanked her for her courage” and told her to “stay strong”. When the Pope was asked for his views on the question of government officials refusing to discharge their duties because of their religious beliefs during, he told reporters that conscientious objection was a “human right”…”It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right,” [6]

Asking the LGBT community to put their grievances aside and join in the self-promotional efforts of a guy who denies them basic humanity is offensive and wrong. The Pope and his Church are neither more accepting nor forgiving of homosexuals. Anyone arguing otherwise is not paying attention.

Abortion

Throughout his papacy, Pope Francis has been a vocal opponent of both the practice and legality of abortion. In May 2013, Francis unexpectedly participated in Italy’s pro-life march in Rome, asking its participants to protect human life “from the moment of conception”. [7] Also, as the mostly Catholic country of Ireland was preparing legislation to legalize abortion, Francis sent a message to the Irish asking them to protect the lives of both the unborn and the vulnerable people. [7] Also in May 2013, during a Wednesday audience Francis officially blessed the pro-life march in Szczecin, Poland, one of Europe’s largest pro-life events and, speaking in Italian, encouraged the Poles to defend the unborn. He maintained that human life should be respected all the way from conception to the natural death. [8]

At a September 2013 meeting with Catholic gynecologists, Francis condemned abortion saying that: “Every child that isn’t born, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ, has the face of the Lord.” He advised the gynecologists to invoke the “conscience clause” to refuse to perform abortions, if so requested. [9]

Birth Control

Definitely not allowed! Francis has affirmed Catholic doctrine on artificial contraception and before becoming Pope he opposed the free distribution of contraceptives when it was introduced by the Kirchner government. [10]

Especially hypocritical is that while preaching economic equality and a reduction of poverty world-wide, the anti-contraception position actually perpetuates poverty. By holding this position, the Church prevents women from having control of their bodies. A woman who does not control her body cannot attain the same economic opportunities as the opposite sex. Plain and simple!

There has been plenty written on the subject of women’s reproductive rights and its relationship to poverty. Please read the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s 2014 article titled Sexual and reproductive health and rights are crucial to ending poverty.

Divorce

Speaking to a large crowd on at the Vatican on August 2015, Pope Francis’ brief address focused primarily on Catholics who are divorced or remarried “outside the church,” or without getting an annulment to the first marriage. Francis also insisted that priests should embrace divorced couples, saying “[they] are not excommunicated, and they absolutely must not be treated that way!”

“They always belong to the church,” Francis said, reportedly sparking a round of applause. “The church is called to be always the open house of the Father. … No closed doors! No closed doors!” (Unless if you’re gay of course.)

In June of the same year, Francis told a crowd in St. Peter’s Square that there are times when it is “morally necessary” for a married pair to separate when children are at risk.

While certainly a progressive stance, it’s little more than a mixture of practicality, theology, and politics. There’s no fundamental change in the doctrine or the teaching with that marriage is indissoluble. The Pope just thinks that annulments should be easier, cheaper and quicker. While we can easily see that annulments are redundant since a civil divorce suffices in today’s world, the medieval practice of approving and rejecting marriage vows must continue. Who in their right mind would give up this kind of power?

Then there’s market share. There are many, many competing religious communities in the marketplace and Catholicism has certainly lost a lot of members in recent years. While the Pope’s comments may be genuine, they cannot be separated from the Church’s recruitment strategy.

Given that the Pope’s stance on homosexuality, abortion and birth control are exactly the same as his predecessors, it’s only logical to assume that his position on divorce is little more than a tactics to bring members back to the Church.

Child Sex Abuse

Here’s a simple way to assess the pope’s performance regarding the child sex abuse scandal: Name one complicit church official anywhere who has been disciplined by the pope. Name one child-molesting cleric anywhere who has been exposed by the pope. Name one step taken by the pope to deter future cover-ups.

You can’t.

Francis has made masterful use of symbolic gestures. By paying his own hotel bill, carrying his own luggage, making impromptu cold calls, and washing the feet of Muslim women, Francis has won the hearts of millions.

But has he defrocked, demoted, disciplined, or even denounced one bishop who hid predators or concealed crimes or endangered kids? Nope. Not one.

Several times, Francis has talked about abuse. He’s apologized for it. Once, he met briefly with a carefully selected small group of victims. He has set up a new church panel to make recommendations on abuse. He says at some point, he’ll set up a panel to look at bishops who conceal abuse.

But at best, the tangible, down-in-the-trenches impact of all this talk is negligible. At worst, the impact is hurtful. How? Because talk implies progress and often promotes complacency. And complacency endangers kids.

Time and time again, Francis has ignored or even promoted complicit bishops (including a highly controversial Chilean bishop who faces multiple accusations of witnessing abuse as it happened).

Like Benedict and even John Paul II, he carefully uses the past tense, subtly suggesting that most of this crisis has passed, when in fact it has not. Like Catholic officials have for ages, he talks of healing but ignores prevention, the area in which firm papal action could make an enormous difference. [12]

This is where the hypocrisy is especially grim: For all the talk about protecting family values and the life of unborn children, he sure has demonstrated that preventing child sexual abuse by his peers is not a priority.

Capitalism, Money and Inequality

This part of the Pope’s persona has probably received the most attention, and rightly so. Given the dire economic situation plaguing the world today, any talk about money, greed and inequality is bound to get the attention it deserves.

Unfortunately, the hypocrisy continues. Previous Popes have all condemned greed, materialism and the love of money above all else, so there is nothing new about Francis’s rhetoric.

Here is the rub: Does anyone else see a problem with a Pope showered in riches talking about poverty? The Church is wealthy beyond imagination. They are possibly the largest land owners on the planet. Can they eradicate poverty? Maybe. But one thing is certain; it has never been on the agenda.

All this talk about greed and materialism is downright hypocritical given that the Pope heads an extremely rich organization that for centuries has exploited the fears and the ignorance of the poor to bilk them for money.

Ask yourself: How much have they given back? They have enough real estate to eradicate world-wide homelessness.

If the pope is so interested in redistributing of wealth, reducing inequality and eliminating poverty, he can start by opening the bank vaults.

Junipero Serra

In January of this year, the Pope announced that Junipero Serra would become a saint, after bypassing the standard requirement that two miracles could be attributed to the missionary…’Cause, you know, miracles are no longer prerequisites for sainthood.

Born in 1713 on the Spanish island of Mallorca, Serra was a Franciscan friar who spent much of his life spreading the Catholic faith in the western part of what is today the United States. Marching aside the Spanish conquistadors, Serra established missions across the current state of California.

All good so far…Except that Serra was instrumental in the obliteration of indigenous populations of the day.

Let’s put this way: at the beginning of the mission period, there were 30,000 Ohlone Indians. That’s Monterey to San Francisco. At the end of the mission period, there were less than 100. In total, over 150,000 California Indians died under the system that Junipero Serra developed. [14]

Native American were forced to labor in camps (a.k.a. slavery), the women were repeatedly raped, families were separated…in other words, your standard genocide.

Under Serra’s leadership, soldiers violently captured California’s Native Americans, forced them into labor and imprisoned them until they died. The natives were beaten, flogged and placed in shackles that didn’t allow them to bend their knees for days. If they grieved over the loss of loved ones, they were whipped. Mothers who had miscarriages were not allowed to mourn; instead, they were accused of having abortions and then forced to hold a carved figure of an infant while standing outside of a mission church.

“Women are never whipped in public, but in an enclosed and somewhat distant place that their cries may not excite a too lively compassion, which might cause the men to revolt,” wrote a shocked French admiral Captain Jean-Francois de Galaup during a visit to Mission Carmel in 1786. [15]

The Pope and his Church defend the canonization of Serra taking the position that, while sometimes paternalistic and not afraid to use corporal punishment, [Serra] protected the Indians from persecution by colonizing royal troops.

According to the Pope Francis, “Junipero sought to defend the dignity of the native community, to protect it from those who had mistreated and abused it.” [16]

“Forward! Let’s keep moving forward!” is how the Pope wishes address the genocide question. [16]

How does one respond to this? I, for one, am not surprised. The Church has always been fond of terrorists. How else does one explain Serra’s canonization?

Conclusion

The Pope speaks well. I can’t take that away from him. But it’s important to separate rhetoric from action. Remember that the American founding fathers preached freedom and democracy while enslaving hundreds of thousands of its own people. Obama received a Nobel Prize while supporting dictatorships around the world.

Don’t be fooled. See pass the words. Pope Francis, just like all the other Popes before him, is a fraud, interested in perpetuating ideologies that have no place in the modern world. His only job is to preserves an oppressive institution of power. Nothing more, nothing less.

Pope Francis is the perfect example of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Thanks for reading.

Notes:

  1. https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2013/july/documents/papa-francesco_20130728_gmg-conferenza-stampa.html
  2. http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/13/17299920-meet-the-new-pope-francis-is-humble-leader-who-takes-the-bus-to-work?lite
  3. http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2014/01/05/22188840-vatican-denies-pope-is-open-to-recognition-of-gay-civil-unions
  4. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/news/pope-francis-warns-that-samesex-marriage-threatens-the-family-and-disfigures-gods-plan-for-creation-9986028.html
  5. http://www.buzzfeed.com/lesterfeder/pope-endorses-referendum-denying-marriage-and-adoption-right
  6. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-34398904
  7. http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2013/07/five-myths-about-pope-francis/william-doino-jr
  8. http://wpolityce.pl/wydarzenia/53620-papiez-pozdrowil-organizatorow-marszu-dla-zycia-ze-szczecina-niech-ta-inicjatywa-przypomina-wszystkim-o-potrzebie-szacunku-dla-zycia
  9. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57603897/pope-francis-denounces-abortion-after-decrying-churchs-focus-on-rules/
  10. http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2013/03/13/cardinals-elect-new-pope/
  11. http://thinkprogress.org/health/2015/08/05/3688480/why-pope-francis-is-talking-about-divorce/
  12. https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2015/09/19/pope-francis-has-done-nothing-prevent-sex-abuse/q0ehzyO5MYw4GTKsgC9doM/story.html
  13. http://fortune.com/2015/09/14/pope-francis-capitalism-inequality/
  14. http://www.democracynow.org/2015/9/23/native_groups_protest_pope_francis_canonization
  15. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/22/pope-grant-sainthood-brutal-missionary
  16. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2015/09/23/pope-francis-junipero-serra-canonization-mass-basilica-shrine-immaculate-conception/72691628/

About elpidiovaldes

Human, All Too Human.

Discussion

One thought on “Pope Francis: Don’t Believe the Hype!

  1. I agree, he’s just another wolf in sheep clothes.

    Posted by Mordanicus | September 25, 2015, 01:56

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