Reminder: The pope’s still conservative and a moral hypocrite

Reminder: The pope’s still conservative and a moral hypocrite September 30, 2015

By Andrew L. Seidel
Staff Attorney
Freedom From Religion Foundation

The pope’s whirlwind visit was a public relations coup for the Vatican. But scratch the surface of the PR machine and we find that the pope is all talk. And even then, his talk is often wrong. For instance, he may be preaching to stop global climate change, but moralizing and blaming technology or science is not going to save us, as Steven Pinker and Lawrence Krauss have pointed out. Science, technology, and a carbon tax might.

At bottom, fellow Patheos blogger Deanna Boudov nailed it, “He is being nice. He is saying kind things. . . . Well you know, a human is supposed to be like that!! Why are we all happy about a religious leader being NICE?!” But when a person with the pope’s power expresses compassion and fails to use his power to correct obvious wrongs, that omission is immoral.

The pope speaks a great deal about healing the wounds of child abuse–child rape and torture is the more appropriate phrase–even saying “God weeps.” God might weep (if he existed), but they must be crocodile tears, because the pope speaks, but does not act. The pope has the power to stop the rape and torture of children. The solution is simple: Turn over priests accused of this to the criminal and civil justice system and stop hiding and shuffling them around the globe. Turn the rapists and their protectors over to the police and use the vast wealth of the Vatican to make some amends to the victims. How about $5 million each? He has this power and budget, but does not use it.

He denies women control of their bodies and lives, and upholds the Catholic ban on contraception, even though condom-use would save millions of African lives. He cares more for the rules of his god–supposedly all-powerful though easily defeated by a thin strip of latex–than human life. He’s the pope, he could change the church’s stance, but won’t.

He opposes equal rights for LGBTQ people. He may “not judge” them, but he has the power to change billions of minds and help LGBTQ rights immeasurably. But he won’t. And in his address to Congress, he reiterated his, “concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family.” Earlier, he said that gay marriage is an “ideological colonization that tries to destroy the family.” 

He still heads up the “clutch of hysterical sinister virgins” that claims the power to dictate sexual mores to women while keeping them out of that same dictatorial hierarchy. He may say that “women in the church are more important than bishops and priests” but words are cheap. He has the power to change that and won’t.

When someone has the power to change a moral evil but does not, their words and excuses are irrelevant. Actions, as the saying goes, speak louder than words. Frank talks a good game, but he’s not doing anything. Talk is cheap, let’s see some change.

The cherry on top of this conservative sundae is the Frank’s secret meeting with Kim Davis to urge her to “stay strong.” The report of this secret meeting comes from Davis’ attorneys, Liberty Counsel, who were just caught making up stories about Peruvian rallies supporting Davis. [Update: The Vatican has confirmed the meeting took place.] If you think this pope is liberal and changing things for the better, look no further than this meeting. Apparently, he is in her corner in the battle against equal rights and government officials doing their jobs.

He may be better at PR than previous popes, but he is still a staunch conservative. Until the Catholic church stops protecting child rapists and turns them all over to the police, and agrees that condoms are both necessary and appropriate, and stops its reproductive war on women, and starts supporting LGBTQ citizens, I will not be convinced the Catholic Church is anything but “a shining example of moral leprosy.” (Nabakov’s phrase, which appears in the foreword to Lolita and refers to the character Humbert Humbert, who was obsessed with a 12-year-old girl, is particularly fitting to refer to the Catholic Church.)

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  • Rookheight

    Somehow I don’t expect the Pope’s right-wing opponents, who have said that the “voice of god” should not be commenting on things like climate change, to criticize him for weighing in on this legal debate. Assuming, of course, that he even did so—as Andrew said, any claims from Davis’s attorneys should be assumed false until shown to be clearly true.

    • Makoto

      Sadly, the Vatican confirmed that the meeting took place.

      • Raging Bee

        Actually, their “confirmation” was so weasel-worded that it really can’t be taken at face value — because the actual words used have no face value! The Vat spokesman only said he would “not deny” the meeting took place, which is dangerously close to “no comment.”
        As to WHY the Church would suddenly be so reluctant to say something clearly, I’m guessing that Davis did meet with the Pope, but the Pope didn’t tell Davis what she wanted to hear, so she just started lying about the meeting; and now the Church is choosing to just downplay the whole fiasco, rather than publicly argue with an attention-whoring nobody like Davis.

        • Makoto

          True, it did shift from “we can’t confirm or deny” to “we won’t deny”, which isn’t exactly confirmation, but pretty close to one without helping Davis out more than they have to. And yeah, they seem to be trying to distance themselves from it now that she (or her lawyers) are turning it into a media circus – as the pope’s handlers should’ve known would happen if they’d ever read anything about that particular group.

          • $136305622

            I am very confused by all of this. All media report that they did meet and I just watched an interview with Kim Davis saying she met him.

          • Raging Bee

            Yeah, this really makes the Pope look ignorant about American politics, and especially about American bigotry disguised as “conscience.”

          • edwords

            Intelligence is no match for religion.

          • Tacitus

            To be honest, it doesn’t really matter what the Pope told in the long run. It’s a black eye for Francis in the eyes of liberal Catholics, but no doubt they will find a way to forgive him. it doesn’t make a lick of difference to Kim Davis’s position though.

          • $136305622

            “It’s a black eye for Francis in the eyes of liberal Catholics, but no doubt they will find a way to forgive him.”

            So true. They are a sad lot of people! Very delusional folks.

        • Ficino
      • $136305622

        It is reassuring to hear though because hopefully progressives will stop admiring this man and thinking he is on their side. I have been preaching against him for 2 years and progressives keep telling me I am wrong. But I knew I was right – he has never utter a word that indicated that was friendly toward to gays.

        • edwords

          Like Bernie Sanders!

          • $136305622

            Bernie is anti-gay?! Good one. Lol

          • edwords

            Not at all! I was referring to his admiring the Pope,

            (with some disagreements.)

          • $136305622

            Oh got it. Yeah, sanders isn’t silly in love with pope. He is able to criticize him. I am baffled by the constant defending of the pope by liberals online over the past two weeks. Even after the Kim Davis story, they still think he represents progressive causes!! Very sad!

          • edwords

            As soon as he got home, he bashed the mayor of Rome for not being a ‘real’ Catholic.

            (“Who am I to judge?”)

          • $136305622

            Wow – I just read that. Yeah, I hate being a cynical person, but unfortunately, I am always right about people’s true nature. Francis is the best PR stunt the RCC has ever done. And people unfortunately bought it – people who normally use their brains much more regularly and effectively!

  • HappyHighwayman

    Bravo!

  • edwords

    During his visit, the UN Human Rights Commission blasted HIS church for
    stonewalling on the cover ups.
    His pleas for kindness don’t apply to the terminally ill.
    He told Castro to put people over ideology ??
    An Anglican archbishop stated that his ‘change’ is one of tone, not content.
    He’s worried more about overcopulation than , , .

  • Let’s be real, though: the Pope has power, but he can also be removed from his position if the Vatican authorities (peers? co-workers?) believe he’s acting “out of line,” yes?

    Sad to think that turning over guilty priests, if nothing else, would be considered “out of line,” though.

    • Auratus

      Can he? I mean that quite sincerely. Can a pope – supposedly God’s personal messenger on Earth – be impeached? I’m not so sure that he can, but can anyone support or refute this?

      Though you’re definitely right that the pope is not all-powerful within the Catholic church, he certainly could force substantial changes in the church’s behavior.

      He could take the same stance on same-sex marriage as the Mormon church – basically that the church won’t recognize or perform same-sex marriage, but wouldn’t get in the way of it either.

      He could say contraception is acceptable – much like how most of the laity in Europe and America already treats it.

      He could also – and this is the single biggest item here – turn over Vatican records and pedophile priests to law enforcement agencies instead of just sugar coating the (ongoing) child abuse with flowery words. Although I suppose I would be okay with the Vatican handling it internally if they started following Jesus’s own words in Matthew 18:6.

      • Tacitus

        Apparently there is no prescribed avenue for the removal of a pope. All previous topplings have been achieved through force of arms by secular rulers of the time, or by more nefarious means.

        One would assume, however, that if a ruling pope did something so totally beyond the pale that it necessitated action, the College of Cardinals would find a way to engineer a resignation, even if was against the will of the pontiff.

      • Ficino

        Some people think Pope John Paul I was poisoned because he was starting to investigate the financial crimes within the Vatican Bank. As far as I know, they never did an autopsy.

        But lawful removal of a pope: not sure.

    • $136305622

      I think it is rare that a pope would be elected in the first place who wouldn’t act in line with traditional Catholic teaching. So it probably would never happen, unless the Pope had some debilitating mental illness that clouded his thinking. But even then, canon law is kind of quiet on removal of a pope (as far as I can see!). But there is no need to worry, this pope is strongly traditional.

    • A3Kr0n

      I’ve wondered what power the Pope actually has. He just seems to go here and there and tell people what they should be doing, but nothing is law.

      • edwords

        He has the ‘fear power’ instilled in millions of ‘his kids’
        at Baptism and beyond.

    • Otto

      But what a statement it would make if he actually attempted to hold all the pedophiles accountable, released all documents in an effort to be transparent even if they reflected poorly on the organization, made a papal decree that said stopping the spread of disease is far more important then theological ideologies. If he did these things and they even attempted to remove him he would win the respect of the world over and send a strong message. He could even be said to be sacrificing himself for the greater good in a selfless act that Christians like to pretend is so all important along the supposed lines of the Jesus narrative.

      But that is not really what is most important to him, the theology is the most important issue, it always has been and it always will be. Remember the most important commandment says God comes first. Why a supposed all powerful, all loving being would need or want us to put him first I will never understand,

      The pope is doing what all popes have done and what the Catholic Church has always done, they sell peace and love but it is a bait and switch…make no mistake, what they are really selling is Catholic Theology first and foremost.

  • Dave

    But he took a selfie. That makes it ok, doesn’t it?

  • PattyH

    Thank you thank you thank you! totally agree!

    We all know: when a woman controls her family size, her family is better off. And we all know overpopulation is part of the problem for global climate change. And yes to everything in this article.

    So for the pope to claim to be anti-poverty and anti-climate change while he is also still anti-contraception -pretty much blows his pretended credentials. He’s the new pope, same as the old pope.

    and yeah, taking time to say women will never be priests – just another slap at women. I don’t need him. I don’t adore him. I don’t salute him. I’m sorry we gave him as much attention as we did.

    • edwords

      He worries more about overcopulation of the unmarried.

    • $136305622

      it was definitely crazy to see how much attention people who normally are critical thinkers and progressive-minded gave him over the past 3 years. I had so many arguments and it was strange how the moment I pointed out facts about the Pope (that were negative of course), it was like I had personally offended people! I suffered the same treatment back in the early 2000s when I would correct people who said John McCain was a reasonable conservative…

  • Jane Ravenswood

    to watch two Christians whose sects hate each other and are quite sure that the other is going to hell join in their hatred and harm of LGBT folks shows just how morally vacuous religion can be.

    • Gideon Waxfarb

      Yeah, and most of these people claim to be having a ‘personal relationship’ with Jesus Christ, which just proves one of two things 1) either they’re all delusional or 2) Jesus is clearly tooling on some of them.