Thursday, January 1, 2015

Why I (Grudgingly) Respect Pope Francis

Like a Lamb to the Slaughter
Anybody who reads this blog knows well my hatred and disgust for religious mythology, and my contempt for a society that allows religious doctrine to inform social or political ideology. And I have no doubt that the American media covers the statements and activities of religious, particularly Christian leaders in far more depth and detail than can possibly be justified. Religious leaders, with their scriptural doctrines of sectarian and tribal hatred and fear, traditional misogynist enforcement of gender roles, and their blatant, endless quest for wealth and power have always tended to be Conservative, not just socially but politically too. No matter how many times you throw the Sermon on the Mount in their little pinched faces, you got nothing but endless support for policies that favored the status quo.

For this, along with myriad other reasons, the American electorate has moved relentlessly to the right for the last fifty years, to the point where claiming to be a 'liberal' is toxic, and we have been forced to lay claim to a different, fuzzier title: "Progressive". And as long as people could self-righteously point to globally recognized religious leaders to justify their fear and hatred of people not exactly like them, the divisiveness could never get better - it could only keep getting worse.

Now along comes this guy who not only talks the talk, he walks the walk. He doesn't just call a spade a spade, he calls it a fucking shovel and reminds people that sometimes they have to pick it up and help dig. He says money in the church is a problem, he says that entrenched bureaucracy in the church is a problem, he says the focus on image and pomp is a problem, and crucially he says that hatred is not a part of Catholic dogma, and that resources are to be used to better the people in the community rather than to live lavishly. Now the chances that the Church will permit this attack on their generational privilege to continue are small, and Francis will probably serve a very brief Papacy, but every day he's the Pope he forces a dialog that never could previously occur. He makes the people and the media talk about the liberal values in the Bible, not just the hatred and power and control. He causes people to question the Christian values of those who would destroy the social safety net, take food and assistance from the poor, and poison the planet for short-term profits.  In short, he makes it easier to be liberal by making it harder to be a fascist.

Look. The Catholic church is a monster, a gigantic cancer on the body politic, and along with the other Abrahamic centers of magicks and mythology, the sooner it is a mostly forgotten part of human history the better it will be for our species. But until that happens, if, as a very large domestic institution it occasionally serves the needs of the community rather than merely preying on them, that in itself would be a very large improvement.


  1. I'm not Catholic, but part of my schooling and many of my acquaintances and family members are. To me, a Pope who actually represents the Matthew 25: 31-46 verses of the New Testament, has my attention. If he's witnessing for the poor, the outcast, the immigrant, the estranged, he's doing the job of "binding together" that religion was supposedly intended for. Taking his job at face value, being a humble man of God, actually makes me a little afraid for him. He reminds me a bisseleh of John Paul I, who died of a "heart attack". I truly believe his heart stopped, anyways. Papa Francesco doesn't take his body seriously because he lives in his spiritual ideal. That's dangerous for him.

    If this drives conservative Catholics to the Papa Gibson alternative Catholic Church and forces them to endure as a weird little cult, so be it. The Church is "catholic" by name. The parochial bastards can go hole themselves up wherever.

  2. It's nice to see a religious leader putting the "Christ" back into Christianity. Pope Francis is a true anomaly after the ultra-conservative Pope Benedict. Hopefully, he'll be able to clean out the entrenched authoritarians in the American Conference of Bishops, but I'm not holding my breath.

  3. My confirmation name is Francis. (Patron Saint of Animals)

    No, I will not lighten up!

  4. Plus, he brought Patti Smith to perform at the Vatican, which all right-thinking persons will acknowledge as a positive event.

    "Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine..."

  5. Look. The Catholic church is a monster, a gigantic cancer on the body politic,

    I think you speak too kindly...