This is a guest post written by Kyle Weese. Kyle was raised in a Methodist family and left the church after being inspired by Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens.
Pope Francis made waves in 2013 when he said, while talking to reporters, “If someone is gay and searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?” On the surface, this looked like a huge win for Progressives, since a major religious leader — if not the major religious leader — had just publicly said that he would not judge gay people.
Well, this wasn’t exactly the case.
Besides the fact that the Pope’s refusal to judge is wholly dependent on a gay person’s willingness to buy into the Pontiff’s version of Christianity — one of thousands of versions, I might add — it was really nothing more than a throwaway comment. Talk is cheap, and especially so when it contradicts actions.
Have the Pope’s actions matched his rhetoric? Nope. In 2010, when Argentina was considering passing marriage equality, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio wrote a strongly worded letter to the Carmelite Nuns of Buenos Aires in which he said, among other things, that:
- “[Marriage equality] is not a political struggle; it is the destructive attempt toward God’s plan”
- The push for marriage equality was “…the envy of the Devil, by which sin entered the world, which cunningly seeks to destroy the image of God”
- Allowing loving, qualified gay couples to adopt children is a form of discrimination against children: “What is at stake here is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother, and children. At stake are the lives of so many children who will be discriminated against in advance, depriving them of the human maturation that God wanted to be given with a father and a mother.”
Who is he to judge?
The Pope. That’s who.
His views are hardly those of a liberal icon, and they’re ultimately no different than those held by public figures on the Religious Right.
2016 Republican Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, a man understandably despised by the Left for his conservative views, issued a statement on his Facebook page that “Jesus wept” when the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the ban on same sex marriage was Unconstitutional. He also claimed that the SCOTUS justices thought themselves to be “bigger than God.”
There’s also Janet Parshall, the radio host of Religious Right who, in an interview with Creationist Ken Ham, said marriage equality was the product of “…the Devil himself” and an attempt to “negate who Christ is as the head of the church.”
In other words, the Religious Right is saying what our “hero” Pope Francis said nearly five years earlier. The Pope’s views haven’t changed, either; just last year he repeated them, saying, “Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity.”
Tell me again why liberals love this guy?
His backwards views don’t stop at gay people, either. They just get worse when it comes to transgender individuals. In the book, This Economy Kills: Pope Francis on Capitalism and Social Justice, the authors — journalists who cover the Vatican — quote the Pontiff comparing the trans community to nuclear arms, saying, “Let’s think of the nuclear arms, of the possibility to annihilate in a few instants a very high number of human beings… Let’s think also of genetic manipulation, of the manipulation of life, or of the gender theory, that does not recognize the order of creation.” This liberal Pope believes that being trans is equally an affront to the natural order of things as weapons used to wipe hundreds of thousands of humans from the face of the planet. Again, this is hardly the mindset one would expect from a progressive Pope. Instead, we expect these mindless ramblings from people like Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum.
Of course, there are the anti-women views as well. Pope Francis tickled the emotions of liberals everywhere when, after his election, he said that the Vatican had become obsessed with abortion and contraception. The implication was that his tenure would focus far less than his predecessor did on controversial issues involving women.
However, after his election, he was hailed by Pro-Life Action League for his 2005 statements as the Bishop of Buenos Aires: “Defend the unborn against abortion even if they persecute you, calumniate you, set traps for you, take you to court, or kill you. No child should be deprived of the right to be born, the right to be fed, the right to go to school.” And what did the Pro-Life Action League say about Pope Francis regarding his election? “As bishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Bergoglio was already under attack himself for his strong stance in defense of marriage, family and the right to life. The attacks will only increase now that he’s been elevated to the papacy.”
Pope Francis has also made it perfectly clear that women have no place serving in the clergy. This may be traditional Catholic doctrine, and many of the Pope’s defenders will argue that he shouldn’t be faulted for this, as he’s bound by the faith. But even someone bound by the rules can push the boundaries if he wants to. Even if the Church won’t budge on women in the clergy, there’s room to criticize the tradition itself or admit there are plenty of women suited for those roles if the tradition were to change.
When Governor Mitt Romney brought up his “binders full of women” in 2012, he was rightly eviscerated by the Left. The Pope doesn’t even have binders. Why should he be let off the hook just because he’s repeating the doctrine of the Catholic Church?
The Pope’s recent U.S. visit made him look like a rock star; he shut down cities wherever he went and drew audiences of tens of thousands of people just hoping for a quick glance. He spoke against poverty and Capitalism, held Mass at Madison Square Garden, visited the 9/11 Memorial Museum, blessed babies and disabled children, and got under the skin of nearly every major conservative politician, media figure, and spokesperson. His visit looked like a major win for Progressivism. But really, it was politics at its best by a man with excellent PR managers. Keep in mind the Pope blatantly ignored an open invitation by New York’s Ali Forney Centre – a homeless center for LGBT youth. The group’s leaders had invited the Pope “to meet our abandoned youths and see for yourself how their lives have been devastated and made destitute by religious rejection.”
Over 200,000 LGBT youths are homeless in America and the Pope, who had no problem attending other pre-planned photo opportunities with homeless people, shunned the LGBT organization’s invitation to meet some of them. Maybe you’ll argue he was just too busy. But he apparently had enough time for a private meeting with Kim Davis, the Kentucky Court Clerk who gained instant fame for denying gay people the marriage licenses they had every legal right to obtain. The meeting, and the topics discussed, were secret, but the cat’s out of the bag now, and it only confirms what we’ve long known about this Pope: He’s not the man so many liberals think he is. (We have recently learned that Pope Francis also met with a gay couple, but their sexuality was incidental to the event; One of the men, Yayo Grassi, was a former student of the Pope’s back in Argentina in the 1960s.)
So who really is Pope Francis? He’s no Progressive hero. He’s a religious leader who believes women can’t hold certain jobs within the Church and don’t have the right to bodily autonomy. He believes the push for marriage equality is the work of the devil and that gay couples trying to adopt children are guilty of discrimination against children. He won’t make time for homeless LGBT youth but will meet in private with someone who openly and proudly discriminates against the LGBT community.
If liberals idolize him, they’re giving their respect to a Pope who exists only in their minds. Let’s not succumb to the same problem that’s long plagued the Religious Right: Impulsively falling in love with someone for a sound bite or two, while ignoring the myriad other offensive statements they make and actions they commit. We can’t let ourselves be fooled.