A New Pope

In case you’ve been blissfully isolated from all news* for the past few weeks, you know that the previous pope stepped down and that there is a new pope—Pope Francis.

The way that I titled this post is a nod to the title of the first Star Wars film. Tragically, I could not work a reasonable way to title it: “Star Wars: A New Pope,” so you’ll have to be satisfied with the second part alone.

Formerly Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Pope Francis is being very vocally hailed as a “fresh face” and “new hope” for the Roman Catholic Church.

The fresh face of the Vatican.

At the risk of sounding immensely ageist, I have to say that, despite knowing some awesome old people, I have never really thought of celibate clergymen in their late seventies as “fresh faces” or sources of much of anything new.

Pope Francis made a bit of news for paying his own hotel bill and declining to sit on a throne while the cardinals lined up and declared their allegiance to him. Aside from an appearance of humility (though, really, how humble can one be while religious leaders from all around the world kneel and confirm that they answer you) and kind of setting aside the biggest perks of being the pope, Pope Francis’ atypical behavior has distracted from more important information about him.

Namely, his battle against marriage equality and same-sex adoption.

I do not care how many feet he washes (though that is super gross—I don’t even like touching my own feet, and they are quite clean), his opposition to fundamental rights of a portion of society is not acceptable. This is not okay, and it should not be overlooked.

The new pope was always going to be opposed to marriage equality and to female reproductive rights. That a pope was selected who was already known for having fought tooth and nail against his own country’s legal recognition of same-sex marriage and against their efforts to provide free contraception . . . well, that says something about the priorities of the conclave.

More worrisome is some of the language that Pope Francis, as a Cardinal, used to voice his opposition. In addition to the usual arguments about same-sex marriage “opposing God’s plan for humanity” and generally harming society (somehow) and how children need a mother and a father (for whatever reason), he also stated that Satan himself was the true source behind Argentina’s marriage equality campaign and perhaps all same-sex marriage.

Seriously. Read some interviews. Read his Wikipedia page (which is a bit more flattering than it was a couple of weeks ago). He does not seem to be a pope about whom we should become excited.

 

*By which I also mean social media, as even online news sources tend to be a little slow to report some stories—I mean, I learn about earthquakes in LA because Nickelodeon stars tweet about it, not because CNN tweets the same information two entire minutes later.



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Thoughts On The Next Pope

Pope Benedict XVI resigned. That’s no longer new information to anyone, but considering that the pope is the religious leader of one out of every seven humans on the planet . . . it’s still a big deal.

According to the trend in how popes are selected by the conclave, they tend to alternate between selecting long-term popes and short-term popes. Which is the polite way of saying that just about every other pope is someone who is quite old to begin with and not expected to live for too long. The other popes, however, are expected to live for a longer period of time.

So the next pope who will head the Catholic Church may very well be pope for the next few decades. I am not Catholic, but the next pope is still important to me. It’s a big deal for the world.

Why? Because the Catholic Church’s influence may have been waning for centuries (and showing no sign of regaining a social or political foothold), but the pope still wields a great deal of influence throughout the world.

Recently, Benedict has been using that influence and a number of major speaking opportunities to voice his continued opposition to marriage equality, even as (or, perhaps, especially as) proponents of marriage equality have won a number of battles in the United States (obviously, other places—marriage equality continues to gain popularity in Europe).

Assuming that I do not gain mind-control powers any time soon (which, tragically, is a fair assumption), I think that it is safe to say that no matter who the next pope might be, he will not be pro-choice or a proponent of gay rights beyond the basic: “Look, they don’t get all of the rights of the rest of us, but don’t set them on fire, okay?”

I’m exaggerating. But, basically, the next pope is still going to be opposed to birth-control (and the use of condoms to prevent the spread of STIs). The next pope will still be opposed to female reproductive autonomy. The next pope will still be opposed to marriage equality for same-sex couples, and likely opposed to adoption by same-sex couples. The next pope will be opposed to premarital sex. To women in the priesthood. To transgender acceptance. Almost certainly to married Catholic priests.

There are a lot of people who are looking at this selection of a new pope, still early in the Twenty-First Century, as an opportunity for a non-white cardinal to lead the Catholic Church. It would be historic and, obviously, past due.

But while a non-white pope would be a progressive move, it is only a progressive move if the new pope in question is no more conservative than the likely positions that I listed above. In other words, certain African and South American cardinals have some outrageous views on civil rights—like opposing same-sex adoption because they confuse members of the LGBT community with child-molesters. Like supporting medieval legislation that would imprison gay citizens.

Look, I’m not going to agree with the new pope on a lot of things. I want equal human rights for women and the LGBT community and not for embryos or fetuses. Like the Catholic Church, I am opposed to the evils of the world, but I think that we have very different ideas of what constitutes evil and different ideas for remedying it (my solution involves the death penalty).

But, while many of the Church’s social positions are seemingly antiquated, whoever becomes the next pope should be a Twenty-First Century pope. A pope who would vehemently oppose Uganda’s “Kill The Gays” bill instead of remaining silent or partially supporting that sort of legislation (and for more reason than simply Catholicism’s opposition to capital punishment). A pope who remembers that women exist. A pope with a genuine interest in interfaith dialogue, with all faiths, and not simply to “unite against the atheists.”

So, at the risk of sounding really negative about African and South American cardinals, let’s be very cautious before praising any “progressive” choices from those continents.

The Catholic Church is slow to change and adapt—let’s all hope that, in choosing the next pope, the conclave does not take a step backward.



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The Ex-Benedict

Let me start this post by saying I am not Catholic and I do not mean to offend any Catholics with this post—I have studied Catholicism so I am not completely ignorant on the topic. With this said, again, I intend no offense this is satire, this is opinion, this is jest. This is not fact this is my stance on it.

Pope Benedict XVI announced that he will be resigning as Pope. This is the first time a Pope has stepped down in almost 500 years. Pope Benedict XVI is eighty-five-years-old and I can see why he would feel tired and not quite up to the job. I mean, you can start collecting social security in the United States at age sixty-five. I think the average retirement age is around sixty-five/seventy. This guy’s fifteen years passed that…he’s tired I get it.

My problem with the Pope stepping down is I didn’t realize this was a job you could quit. Again, I am not Catholic—this impacts me in no way but I think it’s making a pretty big statement. The Pope’s official statement was:

“As you know, I have decided to renounce the ministry that the Lord gave to me on April 19, 2005,I did this in full liberty for the good of the church.”

Hang on, hold the phone—the Lord gave you this job? God handed this mission, this position, this title to you and you are saying “no thanks?” Can you do that? I don’t think so…I’m pretty sure if God says do this…you do it. But again, I’m not Catholic maybe it works differently in the Catholic church—maybe you get to pick and choose what you listen to when God talks.

Maybe it was too much to deal with: delivering mass, dealing with moving pedophiles around, dealing with those pictures of him the SS uniform, Twitter. I mean that’s a lot for an eighty-five year old he probably just wants to chill out and catch up on Breaking Bad like the rest of us. I doubt he’s even gotten a chance to start House of Cards it’s not fair to ask him to fulfill the role that God gave him. God just asked too much.
Well, it’s been swell Pope Benedict XVI but I guess the swellings gone down. Hopefully, the church will elect…I mean…God will choose a younger Pope with a more progressive stance on women, contraceptive, homosexuality, hashtags and the like. Only time… I mean God…will tell.



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Priests Should Take a Vow of Silence

A lot of people go to priests when they have big life questions. I have never understood that, honestly. If you have religious questions, I think you such seek the counsel of an expert, like a priest.  If you have life, love, relationship questions you probably shouldn’t seek the council of a man who has given up all of these things. I think they may be out of their league. Now, it’s not their fault if you come to them with these questions but they certainly should not be handing it out willy nilly.

Someone should tell that to Father Piero Corsi, a priest in a town in Northern Italy. Corsi was quoted as saying, “Let’s ask ourselves. Is it possible that men have all gone mad at one stroke? We don’t think so, the core of the problem is in the fact that women are more and more provocative, they yield to arrogance, they believe they can do everything themselves and they end up exacerbating tensions. How often do we see girls and even mature women walking on the streets in provocative and tight clothing? Babies left to themselves, dirty houses, cold meals and fast food at home, soiled clothes. So if a family ends up in a mess and turns into crime (a form of violence which should be condemned and punished firmly) often the responsibility is shared.”

What Corsi is saying is women deserve to be raped, beaten, and abused because they don’t cook and clean and clearly ask for it by wearing tight clothes.To this I say: Father Corsi, shut the fuck up. You know nothing of women, of marriage, or even of the current times you live in. Your sole job is to spend time living in a world that a book—a book that was written 2,000 years ago—has created. Furthermore, that book preaches “the golden rule” that means if you think it’s okay to beat a woman than its okay for a woman to beat you.

Practice what you preach, you big jerkface! Jesus was about love, acceptance, understanding and nonviolence. Yet one of his “Shepherds” is advocating hurting women because they deserve it and ask for it? This is the problem I have with the Catholic religion. You can get away with saying and doing whatever you like as long as you go to confession on Sunday.



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