We’ve been kicking around the idea of doing a regular column where we shit all over something that is universally loved. The point isn’t exactly to get a knee-jerk reaction out of whiners (call it a perk) so much as destroying sacred cows. Human beings have a tendency to elevate those who do good or great things to almost god-like status, and that shit needs to stop. Martin Luther King Jr. cheated on his wife, Ghandi had a thing for little girls and hated black Africans, and Mother Teresa, despite being the go-to metaphor for goodness, was a complete asshole. Once we do away with our habit of canonizing people, we can finally look at them in the proper context instead of a black and white love/hate lens. I started working on an article how I’m sick of Malala’s shit, but since the fucking Pope is visiting the good ol’ U-S-of-A right now, let’s kick that low-hanging fruit right in the seeds.
If you spent years living with a giant turd doing giant turd things, and then one day, another turd showed up wearing spanx and cologne, you’d be relieved by the seemingly vast improvement. So it is with liberal America and Pope Francis. The previous pontiff supreme Pope Palpatine or whatever, was a pedophile-sheltering maniac who continued the typical fire and brimstone dogma of previous Popes while at least having the decency to look like an evil wizard (while sheltering pedophiles). He made it easy roll your eyes and make a jerk off motion whenever he spoke about anything. Francis, on the other hand, is all about loving the poor and gays and sinners and touching people with diseases that would make the average fella run away screaming. In many ways, the man is an inspiration.
Pope Francis first began making headlines when he said that atheists and gays can get into heaven (even though he didn’t really say that, it got everyone’s attention). What he really said was just standard Christian doctrine that all humans are redeemed through Christ, but we still need to believe in order to be saved and get into heaven. This represents absolutely no departure from traditional dogma. Ask any evangelical hardliner and they’ll tell you that God does in fact love gays, atheists, and Jews, but they are damned to hell if they don’t accept Jesus and repent. It falls along the lines of love the sinner, hate the sin, similar to my own humanist viewpoint love the person, hate the religion. Except I don’t require people to accept my doctrine on pain of eternal torment, just don’t blow me up or tell me where I can put my dick, especially when so many of your people are putting theirs into children.
Pope Francis is changing nothing about Catholic doctrine. All he’s doing is re-prioritizing the importance of certain goals and changing his approach. For instance, instead of attacking women who get abortions, he praises women who don’t. He’s also working on relieving poverty so women won’t feel the need to get abortions, kind of like Planned Parenthood. Although, PP does it better by not condemning birth control. And while Francis doesn’t seem all that concerned with contraception, he certainly hasn’t taken any steps towards changing the rules. Giving women reproductive freedom is the surest way to relieve poverty and bring women closer to equality. Failing to make clear change to the doctrine misses the first and biggest step towards his stated goal of eradicating poverty. While it’s nice to see that he’s done away with the gold scepters and thrones and shit, he’s still missing the mark that his church is 2000 years late in aiming for. And then there’s still the kid-fucking. Francis has done little to nothing to address the ongoing abuse of children by priests and bishops or the cover-ups of the previous asshole in a big hat. As long as predatory clergymen get to resign instead of being hauled off to prison, the Vatican has absolutely no moral authority.
One of the more pleasant things about Francis is how much he’s ruffling the feathers of conservatives in this country. Right before starting this paragraph I watched a video compilation of Fox News dickheads spouting their own stupid critiques of the pontiff of pontiffs. The problem with that video is that it lacked all context. It seemed like liberals now consider the act of criticizing the Pope to be offensive as though they’re bringing back papal infallibility. One could make the argument that such videos are simply pointing out the hypocrisy of conservatives who traditionally stand behind religious leaders that only favor traditional conservative values. And one should make that argument lest they appear to be elevating the new seemingly liberal pontiff to a place above reproach. Annoying conservatives isn’t enough. The enemy of my enemy is still a cunt.
The current agenda of Francis is a very important one. The issues of wealth inequality and climate change absolutely need to be addressed and since Pope Francis has such a vast audience worldwide, we would do well to stand behind him on those issues, but always keep a watchful eye and critical mind. Under Francis, the Catholic Church feels like an abusive boyfriend. After a particularly brutal episode, he’s back in our lives, begging for forgiveness and promising to quit drinking. He’s dressing better and looking for a job and being nice to your mom. But it’s only a matter of time before he’s back on the sauce and demanding to know who you’re talking to on the phone.
Update: So in the interest of fairness, a few hours before I published, Pope Francis visited with victims of sexual abuse and in a speech called for oversight. It will be interesting to see where this leads.