Friday, October 2, 2015

Some thoughts on the 2015 Papal Visit to the US, and why I think that the Pope has blundered badly

Welp,  It's done.  The great, historic Papal visit to the US of 2015 is over and done.  Popapalooza has finished its run and at the end of the run, the Pope's popularity had surged high, and his position had brought some interesting guns to the continuing fight in Congress and the nation as a whole over the role of government in the international global ecological fight.

In among the many personal and public pilgrimages the Pope took during this visit were many things that spoke towards his message of forgiveness and toleration.  His words at the Ground Zero site were far from the blanket condemnation that so many US hawks would have preferred to hear, for example.

To add to the impact of his visit, his alarmingly liberal positions, at least from the view of the US-based episcopal ranks, have forced into a the limelight that many US bishops are only happy talking about Papal Primacy when the views from the Vatican are marching in lock-step with their own prejudices, or can be twisted to be that when presented to their congregations.

(As an aside, that last paragraph certainly sounds like I'm getting my view of the Catholic heirarchy from Jack Chick tracts.  The reality is rather that it's my own interpretation of the events of my lifetime.  I was raised in the Catholic faith, in a household that subscribed towards the Jesuit tradition of education - i.e. that all knowledge was to be studied and evaluated, rather than having certain arguments or pieces of evidence locked away from the masses lest they be tempted into doubt or confusion.  My personal opinion is that the Catholic Church would be better served if that sort of attitude would spread further through the hierarchy. And while I can talk about the bishopric as if it were a unitary body, the truth is that there are many different views within that body.  There are individual bishops in the US whom I find very laudable.  And others whom I think would love to bring back the Inquisition.  But the current behavior of the mass of bishops in the US leaves me doubting both their adherence to the theory of Papal Primacy, and their ability to express Christian mercy.  For example, when the Bishop of Rochester, last year, banned all travel to Africa, and recommended quarantine for anyone returning from that continent in response to the ebola epidemic, he failed, in my opinion, the tests of both reason and faith.)

I am no longer a practicing Catholic and unlikely to return to any church.  So I have to admit my view of things is that of an outsider, but an outsider who does have a fair grounding in both history and the catechism of the faith.  In a world where the Catholic Church is still propagating such evil policies as not merely fighting the availability of condoms in Africa to fight the spread of HIV, but are often actively complicit in spreading mis-information about the efficacy of condoms in fighting the spread of disease, I welcomed any sign that the Throne of Peter would be filled by someone who would pay more attention to the realities that the poor of the world are facing, instead of simply trying to build an ivory tower of perfection for a few select Westerners.

So, this is the background for how I viewed the Papal visit.

I had been cautiously optimistic as the Papal visit focused on several of the great humanitarian trials facing the world at the moment - the exodus of refugees from Mesopotamia, and the climate crisis.  I am not so arrogant as to suggest I have the answers for either, but the current attitude of so many people to deny that either problem exists or could affect them personally is a huge bar to getting any kind of solution in place.

The Pope's statements on these issues were clear, concise, and most importantly without much nuance:  these problems exist, and people should address them - especially good Catholics and Christians of any stripe.

A simple, easily understood call to action.

Then on the last day of his visit, this so-called People's Pope visited with Kim Davis.

In the interests of full disclosure I think that Kim Davis is an idiot, and worse a tyrant, who wishes to see imposed a true theocracy in the US.  Furthermore I believe she is a tool of evil manipulators who are using her.  In short, if she cannot, in good conscience balance her oath to obey the law with her private views of what God demands of her, the proper and just decision for her is to resign her position.  That she finds this impossible to even consider says scary things to me about what she's willing to impose on other people on the basis of her faith.  It's not simply a matter of supporting gay marriage, but rather what other verses will she use, next, to impose her will upon her constituents?

With this background I think that having anyone giving her support is a BAD THING.

That the Pope and his handlers tried to visit her in secret is even worse.

It undermines any authority he has by suggesting that he's got positions he's not willing to make public, for fear of the political backlash.  Furthermore, since the Vatican is now having to scramble to put the best spin possible on this visit, I have the distinct impression that this was supposed to be a secret visit.  In which case, anyone who thought that Kim Davis or her handlers would agree to keep quiet anything that might strengthen their position in the current public debate was an idiot of the first water.

Whether it says good things about me, or not, my primary guide is intelligence.  I may deplore someone's actions, but it's only when those actions are stupid as well as evil that I really get exercised.   So, this one act not only burns up much of the goodwill the Pope had established with his visit, and by making it a private vs. a public visit he's left the question of to what degree he means to support Davis and her position.  The Vatican's current spin is so mealy-mouthed that it's going to have the inevitable effect of softening anything else the Pope cares to say for years to come.

And all this to support an idiot women, who isn't even of the Catholic faith, who is violating her oath of office egregiously, and riding high on a wave of hero-worship from other idiots who can't understand the rule of law when it hits them in their face?

What a fiasco.

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