Pope Francis is often heralded in the West as a stridently progressive voice, as far as popes go. Unfortunately, I fear that this characterization of Francis is far too generous and it is the result of the unscrupulous cherry picking of a select few positions he has vocalized to the public. Not only does Francis often take a couple very general crowd-pleasing positions, he also changes those views depending on the audience. For example, he is very much idealized in the US for coming out in support for homosexuals, but when he is speaking to a less progressive audience like, say, the one he addressed in the Philippines earlier this year, he spoke out against efforts to “redefine the very institution of marriage,” an obvious slight against same-sex marriage. By now this reasoning is but a boring platitude, but it is not entirely unconvincing to his audience. After all, claiming to be the Vicar of Christ on Earth does command certain reliability when it comes to gaining public attention, especially amongst a crowd of faithful individuals.
Unfortunately, Francis’s anti-contraception rhetoric is not harmless; in fact, speaking out against the use of contraception, condoms included, can kill in certain places, like parts of Africa. It has long been the position of the Catholic Church that the AIDS virus is bad, but interfering with the plan of God by preventing pregnancy is worse. This is a moral outrage and is preserved by Francis, the so-called “liberal Pope”. Evaluating the Pope on his least destructive views is, in itself, a mistake.
Writer Miranda Hale does a great job of illustrating the deceptive menace Francis and his pseudo-progressivism are and has argued that, of the three Popes that she has lived through, Francis is the worst of them. She explains:
“Here’s the thing: if someone is a malicious ideologue, I much prefer that they be open about their maliciousness and their unwavering commitment to a rigid and regressive ideology. Francis doesn’t do that, though. He couches his callousness in pseudo-tolerant and pseudo-progressive rhetoric and hides his dangerous attitudes and beliefs behind a facade of avuncular populist everyman friendliness. And people (not just Catholics) are eating it up, buying into it, proclaiming that Francis is A Different Kind of Pope, one who will change the Church, modernize the Church, make the Church into a progressive entity (needless to say (I hope), none of these proclamations hold up under even the mildest of scrutiny).”
Francis’s moral ineptitude does not stop there. It is important to recognize that, during his recent tour through the US, his Holiness could only to be bothered to address the scandal of sexual abuse of young people in Catholic institutions to the extent that he relays to us from above that “God weeps” as a result. If Francis is a “reformer” why haven’t the pedophilic priests known to have committed arguably the most disgusting acts of cruelty on the most innocent of victims being prosecuted and jailed in secular courts? Why are these criminals being moved quietly to South America to continue their Catholic missions?
GlobalPost conducted an investigation into what is being done to Catholic officials who are suspected of molesting children and their findings were, to put it mildly, very troubling. Father Carlos Urrutigoity, who was accused of sharing beds with and fondling young boys who attended his parish in Scranton, Pennsylvania, was labeled as a “serious threat to young people” by the bishop of Scranton. He was then sneakily moved to Paraguay to continue to conduct mass. The Catholic Church did not take any steps to prevent this suspected pedophile of hurting children in the future. I see Francis’s unwillingness to address this issue soberly and without the crutch of God to be morally destitute. The GlobalPost investigation uncovered several more examples of papal abuse of children and the subsequent relocation of the offending priests.
Francis has spoken to the hearts of mainstream America, and the population’s mania about him has had a bottom-up effect, reaching to the highest offices, which is why he was met with parades and a “head of state” welcome during his US tour. Francis should not be rewarded (as most religious figures usually are) for saying ethically and morally normal things, like that women shouldn’t be condemned for having abortions (though he used the term “forgiven”) or that homosexuals shouldn’t be judged. The latter example, if scrutinized a little more heavily, has quite contemptible implications that the Pope should either confirm or deny. Here is the quote in question:
“If someone is gay and searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
This is certainly the closest thing to an endorsement of homosexuality that has ever come from a pope, but it is hardly progressive. If I could, I’d ask Francis to elaborate, because I want to know his opinion of gays who don’t “search for the Lord”. From this, I infer that gays can be forgiven for the sin of homosexuality if one can qualify one’s own homosexuality in the framework of the Catholic faith. If they do not do so, do they simply remain wretched sinners? His lack of clarity in these statements is simultaneously frustrating and telling.
Pope Francis is not a progressive. He is a shelterer of pedophiles, a castigating figure in women’s sexual vitality and the free expression thereof. In the same breath that he preaches for women and their rights, he condemns their right to choose whether or not to regulate their own reproductive cycles. Unfortunately, even under the progressive Francis, women remain the beasts of burden of their husbands, depending on the specific culture, or their state (through preventative contraception laws) and children are not worth discrediting the pedophilic members of the institution he has been tasked with leading.
Andrew Rogers is a freelance writer and political commentator from Kent, Ohio who focuses on religion and social unrest. You can email Andrew here.
[Image: Agência Brasil / Creative Commons]