There exists a lot of positive spin about Pope Francis and in many ways I get it, he comes across as a nice guy and not as obnoxious and condescending (You are all going to burn in hell unless you are catholic) as some of the previous holders of office within that specific religious institution. In fact, I was rather bemused to learn that he tends to cold call and phone people up personally instead of delegating things like that to others. Time reports …
Pope Francis had a New Year’s message for a group of Spanish nuns, but they were too busy to pick up when he called.
In his voicemail, Francis quipped, “What are the nuns doing that they can’t answer? I am Pope Francis, I wish to greet you in this end of the year, I will see if I can call you later. May God Bless you!”
Even what faced with all this positive nice-guy PR, I still retain many objections.
Need I remind you that this is the same institution that conspired to cover up systemic abuse that has probably been going on for centuries, so when he calls for people, including non-believers such as myself, to unite for peace and “justice”, methinks to myself “thou hast a rather large beam in yonder eye”, because to this day many of the abusers remain both hidden and protected.
It is also not simply about the abuse, but also about the promotion of a policy that leads to an almost countless number pointless deaths. He might indeed think that abstinence works best, but the facts are this – condoms actually will prevent the spread of AIDS, especially in Africa where millions of people are dying, and so the on-going opposition to that demonstrates that nothing has really changed. Yes really.
He might indeed suggest that the children of gay people should not be alienated, but he himself is still a rabid homophobic bigot (apparently that is mandatory for the job). Yes really.
So let us call a spade a spade – much of what we see is PR designed to halt the drastic decline in power and influence of the belief system, and is not really reform of any substance at all.
So yes, while he does come across as a nice guy, which I guess is why he got the job, let us not forget that behind the throne of power sits an irrational belief that has left a trail of abuse and also a mountain of bodies due to the refusal to promote simple actions to stop AIDS, and it has not changed at all.
Then again, perhaps there is also the rather glaring elephant in the room that I failed to mention and often gets forgotten. The entire reason for the existence of the institution is to promote superstitious beliefs that are not actually true, and so when faced with the claim that a male virgin wearing a dress can magically transform a cracker into a god by reciting a magical incantation for humans to then consume in an act of literal cannibalism …. er no, that is not real either, it is still just a cracker.
So yes, he might indeed be a nice guy, but the irrational belief is still irrational and still motivating actions that cause real harm.