So I am way late to the game on this one, but if you read this blog you’ve probably heard by now about how some atheists have praised Pope Francis for saying nice things about gays and abortion and so on. And you’ve probably heard other atheists push back against that, saying Francis is just as bigoted as his predecessors. Here’s what I think about that:
Yeah, in a perfect world, the Catholic Church would magically reverse itself on gays and contraception and a bunch of other issues overnight. It sucks and it’s bad that they haven’t done that. Boo on them. Actually, scratch that—in a perfect world, no one would ever have had the Catholic Church’s dumb positions to begin with.
On the other hand, I think Francis may be, realistically speaking, the most liberal Pope the Catholic Church was going to get at this time in its history. And furthermore Pope Francis, realistically speaking, had to happen eventually. The Catholic Church can’t hold on to its crazy views forever, but given that it also isn’t going to reverse itself over night, baby steps are the way to go.
We’ve seen this before with American evangelicals and gays. A great many evangelicals convinced themselves they could hold on to all their own beliefs about homosexuality if they just resolved to be nicer about it. And on the one hand this is complete bullshit. Evangelicals need to wake up and realize that when the Bible says that men who have sex with men should be killed, the guy who wrote that probably really meant it, and it’s a profoundly evil sentiment, and it all by itself is proof that the Bible is not the word of a morally perfect God.
And on the other hand… when Rick Santorum claims to have gay friends, you know what? I can celebrate that as a sign of progress.