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.)