POPE SPRINGS ETERNAL

Posted in Rants on September 24th, 2015 by Ed

I want to go on record, if you have yet to figure it out, that I am very pro-Pope Francis. No, I'm not a Catholic. Yes, I find many of the teachings of the Catholic Church to be antiquated and needlessly obstinate. Yes, the Catholic Church as an organization, without indicting every last one of its followers, has proven itself repeatedly to be a corrupt institution with a Circle-the-Wagons mentality that would be the envy of any suburban police department. My view on it is, the church is always going to have a Pope. Why not be glad that there is a Pope who is right about a lot of things in addition to the things that the Pope – any Pope, by virtue of being the spiritual and practical head of Roman Catholicism – is going to be wrong about?

It doesn't take long for any positive statement about Francis to prompt some rocket scientist to point out that he is anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, and anti-contraception. Is it supposed to be useful to point out that the Pope – the leader of the Roman Catholic church – believes these things? The only less useful contribution to the discussion would involve an image of a peeing Calvin. Thanks for stopping by to remind us that the Pope is not in favor of abortion. Without your Sherlock-level sleuthing skills I have no idea how anyone would have figured out that the prelate of Roman Catholicism believes the basic doctrines of the Catholic Church for two millenniums*.

Given the reality that any Catholic Pope is going to support those teachings, why not take some satisfaction in the elevation to a position of power, visibility, and authority of someone who reminds the billion Catholics on the planet that anti-abortion and anti-gay does not summarize the entirety of Catholic doctrine and the teachings of Jesus? If anything, it is remarkable (and commendable) how little Francis has talked about these things and how often he has reminded his followers that they comprise only a small part of the belief system of Catholicism as defined by the scriptures and the teachings of the church over time. Hell, he hasn't even been half-bad about the church's major and long-running problem with sheltering child abusers.

It is so "sophomore year of college" to go around reminding everyone that the Pope isn't cool with abortion and think that this has somehow been an intelligent thing to say, a useful contribution to the discourse. No shit. Absent single-handed power to redefine Catholic doctrine (which, since the institution is as political as any other of its size and scope, he does not have) I'm not sure what he is expected to do about that even if he disagrees. Which he of course does not, being a Catholic. If you can't look at this guy's two years in power and the near-constant attention he has drawn to global income inequality, the staggering lack of compassion for the poor and socially disadvantaged, the constant recourse to war and violence by the most powerful nations on the planet, and the narrow-minded obsession of American religions with penis and vagina related issues at the expense of all others and recognize it as a net positive, I don't know what to tell you. You might be a lost cause.

*I looked it up, it's correct. I swear.