TALE OF A TERGIVERSATING CATHOLIC
The mishandling, or more accurately, refusing to handle, the sex scandal in the priesthood is one more example of the deficiencies in the reign of Pope Francis. But other reasons are more telling as to why he should resign.
It is apparent that the Pope is obsessed with poverty. Not a bad thing for a parish priest in low income countries and barrios in his native Argentinia. Surprisingly, after experiencing the money lust and gluttony of the Kirschners and Peronists, and the widespread characterization of the country as a “flawed democracy,” it is puzzling how the Pope fails to recognize that the major source of poverty is corrupt leaders. His criticism of democratic capitalism shows a marked lack of understanding of political economics and its relation to a stable and just government.
Setting aside Russia and a few mid-eastern countries, there is no regime in the world more corrupt, oppressive and venal than Cuba. Yet the pope made a special visit to the nefarious Fidel Castro to discuss the world economic system – a caucus of the benighted. Of course other Popes have visited Castro, but only to provide solace for the many Catholics suffering there. But Francis extended a thank you to the Castro revolutionists’ “contributions to world peace,” in his words. He commented on reconciliation referring to the “third world war being fought in stages.” The Pope is out of historical touch; he imagines a worldwide struggle of democratic capitalism versus communism, unaware that we already won that war.
But on to Venezuela for the Pope’s favorite Marxist (since Chavez), Nicholás Maduro, dictator non-pareil, and lower society exterminator. Current conditions in Venezuela would never suggest that it sits on One Trillion dollars of oil. Nor that in 1950 it was the fifth richest per capita nation in the World.
There is no more spectacular example of socialism’s failure than Venezuela. It demonstrates that it is not merely corruption that is so typical of dictatorships, but the use of socialism as the vehicle. That vehicle is pregnant with State oppression by a coterie of leftist politicians that are venal and amoral. In the case of Venezuela, its danger is not only that it has imported tens of thousands of Castro villains that operate secret military services that support Maduro, but its ties with the world’s most anti-democratic countries in the world: Iran, Russia, and Syria. For example, the Vice-president of the country is Tarek El Aissami, who is close to Raul Castro and Iran and Syria. Mr. Aissami’s father is from a region in Syria that is a stronghold of Bashar Assad, the notorious killer. The younger Aissami runs a passport mill having issued 10,000 illegal passports within one year. It is alleged that he also trains Hezbollah and Iranian operatives at camps around the country.
I need not document the starvation and collapse of the one-payer medical system since that is widely reported in major news media throughout the world. The economy has shrunk by a half. Inflation is over 700% in 2017 and projected at 13,000% this year. 3 of every 4 Venezuelans have lost an average of 18 pounds in 2017. There are nearly 400 political prisoners. Since Chavez took over the country, three million Venezuelans have left the country – a third of its population – thirty percent of that third has migrated in the last two years. Recently, the collapse of the health system has led to widespread diseases including tuberculosis, measles, malaria, diphtheria and dengue fever. Worse, the emigration of these starving and sick people into Columbia, Brazil and even Argentina is spreading a disease epidemic throughout South America.
Maduro’s family enriches itself through drug trafficking; the Interior Minister has been indicted for drug trafficking; the sons of Maduro were indicted and tried on drug charges in New York; the attorneys fees were paid for by Wilmer Ruperti whose company received a $138 Million contract from the military that runs the State oil agency. Mr . Ruperti runs around Caracas in a bullet-proof Jaguar accompanied by two North Korean body guards. Elise Harris of the Catholic New Agency has stated that the Maduro government “is known to be the most corrupt in Latin America.”
Into this paradise steps the man who proclaims his support for the poor of the world and bashes capitalist countries for the maldistribution of wealth – Pope Francis. In June 2013, he met with Maduro shortly after Maduro, according to some, stole the bloody election. Maduro was not present at the start of Francis’ pontificate busy with election manipulation but stated: “Like Francis of Assisi we need a Pope of the poor.” A prescient statement . . . poor Venezuelans are now starving but Francis stands by.
The bishops in Venezuela see the lie in the Francis supporters in the Vatican who state that the Pope has a “dialogue” with Maduro. Venezuelan bishops have flown to the Vatican – uninvited – to plead with the Pope to “free our homeland from the claws of communism and socialism.” They apparently didn’t see the dialogue – or worse, they did. Of course, as in the great silence on the sex scandal, the Pope hibernates, apparently praying for divine intervention rather than exercising leadership of one of the largest religions in the world. That plays into Maduro’s hands who chides the bishops to not interfere with his “dialogue” with the Pope. Perhaps the bishops have followed the Chinese dialogue (see below).
The world awaits some statement that, if not criticizing Maduro, or more fairly castigating him, would support his bishops and the Catholics. They look to him as their advocate rather but obtain insipid comments such as his urging Maduro to engage in “sincere and constructive dialogue.” It is like asking Putin to “play nice.” Carlos Vechio, an exiled political leader in the Voluntad Popular party, stated in late 2017: “Pope Francis needs to make things right after having involved himself in a failed negotiation. He has a pending debt with Venezuela.”
He can only claim moral bankruptcy.
Chinese Communism and Catholicism
My first reaction to the Pope’s capitulation to Chinese control of the Catholic church, is also my final reaction. The Pope gave up the right to appoint bishops in what can only be kindly denominated as extreme naiveté.
Cardinal Joseph Zen, who has lived in Shanghai since 1948, was formerly the bishop of Hong Kong, and is now 84 years old is blunt: “Pope Francis has no real knowledge of Communism.” The Pope’s early life experience in Argentina has skewed his political beliefs. Juntas and military dictators who fought the communists were typical in his time. He never saw a true democracy with a capitalist economic system. “So the Holy Father knew the persecuted communists, not the communist prosecutors,” according to Zen. He continued: “ I am sorry to say that in his goodwill he has done many things which are simply ridiculous.” He ended by pledging allegiance and exhorting the true flock to accept the communist sponsored church, the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. The bishops in the CCPA, however, he called “puppets and slaves.”
Those claiming that loss of the right to name bishops is a fair price to pay for ending the fifty years of stalemate are dissembling. The Pope obtained no consideration except a vague promise that the persecution of the underground faithful would be mitigated. He not only exceeded his negotiating competence, confirming the suspicion that what he means by “inclusion” includes repressive dictatorships, but according to his immediate predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI: “The authority of the Pope to appoint bishops is given to the church by its founder Jesus Christ. It is not the property of the Pope, neither can the Pope give it to others.”
Sadly, the Pope does damage to the Chinese underground faithful who despite deprivations continue to proselytize and pray – for the Pope, at least up until now. Moreover, it undermines in general the Christian religion in China that has persisted since the Seventh century. There are an estimated twenty three million Protestants practicing illegally and in secret house “churches.” Their cause is not enhanced when a major religious leader buckles under to an atheistic dictatorship.
Unlike most European countries, Poland cherishes its sovereignty recently won from the Soviet Union. It has joined the EU but will not kowtow to the Brussel Snouts. Nor does it fold to the Pope’s errant and misplaced concerns with divorce and emigration, respectively. Poland has a beloved Pope – John Paul II – whose non-earthly presence only strengthens their love of the church. 98% of Poland’s 38 million people are baptized and traditional Catholics, though only 40% attend mass regularly.
Nor does the Pope’s prized fetish – climate change – find concordance in Poland. The 78% approval of Pope Francis is a tribute to the Poles commitment to the Catholic Church more than to this particular Pope. It was more of a snub than an accident that when Francis canonized John Paul, he combined the event with canonization of the liberal Pope John XXIII. Similarly, when he canonized Pope Paul VI, he also canonized Archbishop Romero thirty-five years after his death. The reason behind the delay was that Romero adopted the communist view of liberation theology that dovetailed with Francis’ political views. Was it just a coincidence that in Ahiara Nigeria a protest of a bishop appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012 by local priests because of his tribal background, was removed by Francis?
John Paul visited Poland his former home nine times, each time he sought to encourage the people to be steadfast in their rejection of the Soviet communist dictators. However unlikely, President Trump in a speech to the Polish people called them the “soul of Europe,” words that should have been uttered by Pope Francis.
Shortly after he visited Poland, the Pope made one of his more ridiculous statements that the inspiration for terrorism is the world economy that worshiped the “god of money.” “Terrorism grows when there is no other option, and as long as the world economy has as its center the god of money and not the person. This is fundamental terrorism against all humanity.” Someone needs to introduce the Pope to the Quran and the hadith – try Ayaan Hirsi Ali for an account of the call for jihad at the core of Islamism. A close second for absurdity is his comment when asked about gay priests: “Who am I to judge?” He has papal supremacy at least in matters of faith and morals. If not him – than whom?
Pope Francis, enigmatically, has never visited Argentina, his home. When elected, he had a 90% average approval rating that has diminished to 75%. He disingenuously avoids visiting Argentina on the grounds that he does not want to appear involved in local politics or in collaboration with the Argentine government. However, that has not stopped him from appearing with Raul Castro sending a message to the world. The Pope does not like Macri, the center-right President. A poll showed that 44% of those polled stated he favored ex-President Cristina Kirchner, a left-wing populist who replaced her husband as President and went on to be elected and in office for eight years involving multiple corruption scandals. These did not seem to bother the Pope.
Perhaps his reticence since Macri was enthusiastically supported is that he has no understanding of his own people.
The Great Inclusion
The Pope has this grand view of his position and himself as the Great Reconciler. For example, he visited Sweden, a Protestant country, not coincidentally when Sweden allowed generous entry to Syrian refugees. But he mis-timed his visit – the government had reversed the policy due to the barbarism. While he lauded a reconciliation with the Lutherans, he spoke mostly of the outcasts and marginalized – the refugees – the signature of his tenure. An official from the ruling political party noting the change in immigration policy stated that the Pope’s visit would not change a thing. There will be no open borders in Sweden, like it or not.
Capitalism – Bah Humbug
The great champion of the communist populist movements throughout the world does not think much of the recent rise of populism in America. On the inaugural day of Mr. Trump, the Pope warned that populism can lead to Hitler; that observation is the likely take home experiences from his visits to Castro and Maduro. Such warning is misplaced in a democratic capitalist country. Indeed, with his eclectic choice of tone in his statements, he suggested that capitalism “kills.”
The Pope waxes at length on the “dangers of unbridled capitalism” deriding money as the “dung of the devil.” His proposed solution is more international regulation of finance and markets. Striking at the core of capitalism he claims that markets cannot govern themselves; of course, Adam Smith recognized and stated that centuries ago. The statement is meaningless without a proposed program for regulation. Pope Benedict XVI made similar remarks, but it is the addition of comments on an economic system that excludes and creates inequality based on the “idolatry of money,” that is so unnecessarily contentious. All of these commentaries suggest that the Pope’s remarks to Congress in 2015 were disingenuous.
The Pope has only contempt for democracy. That is because in his life experience he has never witnessed the exercise of free will in electing the rulers of a country. Indeed, he has no concern for freedom. It is too abstract; he sees only the visceral material goods that the poor do without. If pressed, I believe, between a totalitarian government where all peoples had exactly the same income but no free speech, due process, voting rights, freedom of assembly or even freedom of religion he would embrace that political order without reservation. This is why he is such a threat to a free society.
Perhaps he is not entirely to blame. The Pope is embedded in one of the most ancient, rigid hierarchical organizations in the world. The idea of democracy is foreign to him – and to the Roman Curia. A political entity with a pyramidal structure of elites and super-elites culminating in a leader who in matters of faith is infallible is likely to espouse that order and find it rational and indeed optimal. That mindset is ubiquitous in the Church and, as we will see, underlies the rot in the clerical sexual scandal. The Catholic Church is, and has always been, a benevolent dictatorship. But in the past hundred tears it has kept, at least officially, from direct interference in political States. But now, Pope Francis appears to be resurrecting ultramontanism.
A Prayer for the Poor
The Pope has a reputation as a man with unparalleled concern for the poor. I do not doubt his sincerity. Yet there must be an answer to his intransient support for dictators like Maduro and Castro who are starving their people to death. Surely he must be aware of the criminal behavior of these dictators. Is his commitment to socialism, and outright hostility to capitalism, trumping his concern for the poor? Or is he so obstinate that he refuses to admit his mistakes? Or is he so arrogant that he refuses to acknowledge that these men are simply criminals who have disdain for the poor. These are questions that cannot be answered because when confronted by his mistakes, he repairs to silence as he has done with the clerical sexual abuse crisis.
It would be crass and insensitive to ignore the pleas of the Pope to show compassion and confer guilt from the pulpit. It is nevertheless appropriate to view the pleas in the context of the progress. A progress that has been attained through democratic capitalistic governments throughout the world. The Pope, by his blindness toward democracy and capitalism fails to inform himself of some incredible successes in lifting the conditions of poverty. Not through handouts or inane calls for ill-defined social justice that are merely grasps by usurpers for the levers of power to distribute wealth in a manner that suits their interests. But through the brilliant minds of economists like Adam Smith in concert with high-minded politicians. Deidre McCloskey in her book Bourgeois Equality reckons that the income in the 34 OECD countries has risen since 1800 on the order of 2,900%. This progress is the result of a moral vision of the value of work, innovation, and the liberty, dignity and equality of ordinary people.
But I suppose the Pope is interested in more current times. Fair enough. The University of Oxford operates a research program that publishes its results on a site Our World in Data. In March 2018, it published facts gleaned from data generated by the World Bank focusing on poverty. The Bank sets an International Poverty Line for “extreme poverty.” That figure is $1.90 per day. While for a Westerner and surely for an American that amount is dismal, setting the poverty line is based on consumption and income that supports sustainable living. Other levels of poverty that are set and from which data is produced includes a higher bracket of $1.90-3.10 per day, and above $10.00 per day. Two-thirds of the world’s population live below the $10.00 per day poverty line and accordingly, focus on lower levels of poverty is of greater interest in measuring relief from poverty. In 1981, 55% of people worldwide lived on less than $3.10 per day, in 2013, that figure dropped to approximately 27%. More dramatically, 27% of people lived on less than $1.25 per day in 1981, that figure has fallen to 4%.
The Pope has shown, understandably, sympathy for the poor in Central and South America, a region rife with dictators. Yet he ignores that in the capitalistic United States, Hispanic household median income in 2017 increased 3.7% to $50,486. That is a crest of a rise in five-year median income for Hispanic households of 20.7% over the last few years. In America, the relationship of race and ethnicity to poverty is still considerable. Does capitalism create inequality, yes, but it beggars the inequality in communist and authoritarian countries.
It is with a certain amount of temerity that Pope criticizes capitalism. Or perhaps he should further study the Roman Curia whose profligacy demonstrates that an oligarchic form of government is no contender for a more perfect form of political economy.
I do not wish to demean the Pope’s concern for the poor, but there is no basis for hysterical haranguing by advocating open borders, repressive regimes, and climate change.
But it is not only in matters of the poor, climate change, and geopolitics that the Pope intervenes. In August 2018 the Pope declared that the death penalty is “inadmissible.” Contravening two thousand years of Catholic teaching on the death penalty Francis approved revision of the Catholic Catechism to state that the death penalty was an “attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person” and that he will work for it abolition worldwide. In October 2017 he called the death penalty “contrary to the Gospel” dismissing the long position of the Church as “dictated by the mentality more legalistic than Christian.”
In their book, By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment, Joseph M. Bessette and Edward Feser point out with powerful examples that capital punishment is a deterrence that saves lives. More importantly, they argue that unless the death penalty is inherently evil, it is within the realm of civil public authority – the priesthood confers no expertise on criminal justice. Francis gave no reason for denying that the death penalty saves lives. Yet, by implementing this extreme penalty a message is sent to the public that heinous and cold-blooded killing teaches that murder is wrong.
As Mr. Bassette, a professor of government and ethics at Claremont McKenna College stated in an article: “By falsely claiming that the principles of Catholicism call for rejecting the death penalty in all circumstances, the pope undermines the authority of the Magisterium, pre-empts the proper authority of public officials, and jeopardizes public safety and the common good.”
This is another example of the Pope’s arrogance in overthrowing classical Church doctrine with a wave of the hand and encroaching on secular matters in which he lacks expertise and simple common sense.
Sexual Abuse Culpability
There is no need to recount the heinous conduct of Catholic Church leaders engaging in and covering-up sexual abuse of children and seminarians – the newspapers have well-covered that ground. And the evidence establishes that these reprehensible practices have been, according the grand jury report in Pennsylvania, widespread for over seventy years. Nevertheless, recent reports have indicted some of the top Church hierarchy in the United States for suppressing the abuses, if not engaging in them as in the allegations against Cardinal McCarrick. My focus is not on the failure of the Church but rather the Pope’s reaction to it – if silence can be characterized as reaction. The latest indifference of the Pope comes after the recent synod of 250 bishops at the Vatican scheduled to discuss youth and young Catholics. The 60 page final document devoted two paragraphs to the clerical abuse; Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia found the document “frankly inadequate and disappointing on the abuse matter.”
The facts, in the McCarrick case, are not greatly in dispute if only because of the Pope’s silence. In brief, Pope John Paul XVI sanctioned McCarrick many years ago. The sanctions were weakly enforced and McCarrick was allowed to exercise his office. In a letter from Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, a former papal nuncio to the Unite States, he claimed that Pope Francis ignored – giving McCarrick a get-out-of-jail pass – his predecessor’s sanctions. Astonishingly, when the Pope was returning from his highly touted visit to Ireland in August of this year, he stated that he would not confirm or deny Viganò accusations and told reporters they could make up their own minds. This insouciance has exacerbated questioning of the moral authority of the pontiff. A worldwide meeting of bishops has been called for February 2019, but the agenda does not mention whether it would include disciplining of priests and bishops who have abused children or hid knowledge of the abuse. Bishop Thomas John Paprocki in Springfield Illinois said: “With all due respect, that response is not adequate. If I was accused of covering up for one of my priests, I would not get away with saying ‘Just make up your own mind . . .’ I don’t know if the Pope realizes how serious this situation is.”
The Pope’s lack of sensitivity, covered with a patina of compassion, and coupled with harsh rhetoric for those who challenge his authority or espouse capitalism was in full view in his handling of clerical sex abuse claims in Chile. Bishop Juan Barros was appointed by the Pope to a diocese where protesters accused the bishop of hiding clerical abuse. In response the Pope called the protesters “foolish” and guilty of “slander,” noting he had not heard from any of the victims. It was later disclosed that he received a detailed letter from one of the victims in 2015. The Pope appointed a special investigator who uncovered, after interviewing 64 witnesses and compiling a 2500 page report, evidence that bishop Barros was not innocent. The Pope then did an about face admitting that he was guilty of “grave mistakes” but deflecting personal responsibility by stating that he had been misled by “lack of truthful and balanced information.”
Abortion, a “grave sin,” has been overemphasized according to the Pope extending the power of bishops to forgive the sin in confession. He stated: “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods.” Typically inconsistent, the Pope strengthened the civil (as opposed to ecclesiastical) penalties for child sexual abuse; his authority in civil matters is circumscribed by the one-square mile territory of Vatican City. Hardly encouragement to those who fight white slavery and child pornography.
Personally, since the Pope has no reticence in trashing classical Catholic practices, the solution to the problem going forward is to allow priests to marry. Conservatives may object on the grounds that celibacy is a representation of the way Christ lived. But there is no doctrine requiring celibacy, in fact celibacy was adopted in the 16th century; earlier, priest married, but refrained from sex after their ordination. But the restraint from sex is not “doctrine.” Moreover, a crisis in the Church for which Francis is not responsible is the lack of priests – in 1970, there was one priest for every 1,500 faithful, that figure now stands, as of 2015, one priest for every 3,091 Catholics. The Pope’s lack of decisiveness on the sex scandal may unintentionally so anger the faithful as to reduce the ratio. That would be ironic.
The Pope is not interested in sexual morality. Many believe that the very source of morality is religion and God. For many of those, the Pope’s acceptance of sexual immorality – there is no other way to put it – strikes at the core of religion in general and the Catholic Church in particular.
The Pope is a great advocate for open borders. Apparently, he sees this as a means of redistribution of the wealth of developed countries. This position may well be based on compassion for the poor. It is also none of the Pope’s business. National borders are difficult enough to defend against creeping imperialism, as Yoram Hazony calls it, without interference from religious voices. I repeat, the Pope has no credible basis for dictating secular boundaries. His criticism of the United States is misguided at best; this country has welcomed more foreign-born people over its history than any other country in the world. Here is the proof: prior to 1965, there were national-origin quotas, total immigration was about 70,000 people per year; in the early 80’s the number was 600,000; in 1989 the number was over a million. In the ten-year period beginning in1990 the United States accepted 9 million immigrants. In 1960, foreign-born peoples from five central European countries and Canada comprised a little over 5 million citizens; in 2000, Mexico, China, the Philippines, India, and Cuba citizens comprised over 12 million people, though the 8 million Mexicans were mostly illegal. Unlike Sweden and Germany, we know enough about balancing the ethnic antagonism of tribes (despite the senseless furor that the American academics have inculcated into the immature) to maintain a stable, cohesive, unified, and compassionate nation. Like all nations, America is a loosely bound synthesis of tribes; but it has held together based on a shared social experience, a common religious tradition and cultural inheritance. Today, it is under attack by the usual socialists that are a recurring phenomenon in our history in league with elitists in the universities and large corporations who seek power over the nation’s wealth.
The current emigration problem in the United States is political, not spiritual. The poor from the Central American countries are poor because of the greed, lust for power, and amorality of the left wing dictators. Look at Venezuela. It sits on trillion dollars of oil. Jorge Ghiordano, a planning minister and friend of Chavez stated in 2015 after resigning from the Maduro government that of an estimated One Trillion Dollars of oil revenue received in the Chavez years, two-thirds had been distributed to workers through subsidies and cash transfers. Three hundred billion “had fallen through the cracks.” It is true that the price of oil has curtailed foreign earnings, but Maduro sells oil to Cuba and other leftist countries at below cost. The “good years” only prove that a socialist government is incapable of prudent stewardship of the economy. Based on the well-known corruption within the Vatican, advice from the Pope is unwelcome until it cleans up its act.
This is no the place to argue the scientific merit of the climate change scare. Suffice it to say that humans are indeed warming the world. On the other hand the proposals for controlling the warming envision a World Climate Agency costing trillions of dollars over which there would be no national state controls. In the end, the question is whether the models stretching 80 years into the future can accurately measure ocean rise that demands immediate response. Or is it another imperialist NGO that wields unfettered power and spends billions of dollars on favored political countries as does the United Nations.
Here, I am more concerned with the Pope’s “fallen through the cracks.” involvement in the climate warming bare knuckles fight. The Pope demonstrates his despisal of technology and science; a classic case of what you don’t understand you scorn and denigrate. He blames various social ills on the progress made by science in creating medical devices and procedures that has alleviated the pain of hundreds of millions of people – and not merely the rich. Who in heavens name does the Pope think will solve any climate change problem – philosophers, psychologists, poets, journalists, religious, economists, women studies’ academics? And Lord help us – politicians? Has science been successful in its every endeavor? Of course not. Like all human undertakings it makes mistakes and creates new problems in solving others. The Pope forgets that God made scientists along with the precious Earth; there is no reason to believe that he failed to invest them with a duty to care for the world. And He has been well rewarded.
The introduction to the Encyclical,Laudato Sio, is by Naomi Oreskes, a well-known uncompromising advocate for climate change due to human activity and prime accuser of large corporations as secreting technological information detrimental to people. So it is not surprising that the Pope makes advocacy statements such as those before the Notre Dame conference of oil and financial executives regarding a failure to reduce use of fossil fuels. He claims such failure will lead to “a spiral of extreme climate changes due to a catastrophic rise in global temperatures, harsher environments, and increased levels of poverty.” The disconcerting thing about the Pope’s position on climate change is that it is tightly coupled with his concern for poverty. Ironically, the Pope has no expertise in the former and impressive credential according to some on the latter. Further confusing his intent on advocating for suppression of fossil fuels is his distaste for scientists and hostility to our “current economic system [that] thrives on ever-increasing extraction, consumption and waste.”
The Pope’s confusion is manifested in his criticism of the “technocratic paradigm,” and the obvious need for the role of science in solving the ecological problems he identifies and exaggerates. But I find the Encyclical on Climate Change and Inequality the offensive. In particular, the melodramatic and insulting comment that we have made the Earth “an immense pile of filth.” Quite aside from the overwrought statement it is misdirected. Because the pile of filth lies in the sexual immorality in the world. The Pope is quiet on that failure in our society – pornography, white slavery, sexual assaults, deprecation of women’s safety, homosexualism, pedophilia, gay pride parades, pederasty, lewdness, erotic art, and obscenity. That is a quite a pile of filth that the Pope ignores. Yet if there is any purchase in religion for defining morality and ethics it is in the area of sexual morality. Is not the classic role of religion to provide moral guidance in manners of sex? Has not the Church historically shamed immoral sexual conduct particularly for prepubescent girls? Is it proper to turn away from sexual morality in a world that needs it so badly, to a remote possibility that technology will not find solutions for the problem that he characterizes as filthy.
The Pope has proudly sought to demote an “overemphasis” on sexual and medical ethics and to focus on poverty and migration. He equates abortion with a lack of concern for lives of the poor. An exclusive focus on abortion will reflect a “harmful ideological error” if it is allowed to play down the importance of social action or denigrate it as “superficial, worldly, materialist, communist or populist.” He casts aside the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI, critical of moral relativism, stating that climate change is a more important issue than the “dictatorship of relativism” as Benedict characterized it.
The Pope has no scientific background and is incapable of assessing the arguments involved in the climate fracas. Perforce, he relies on his advisors who are not noteworthy for expertise in the arcane modeling and scientific interpretations of climate data that are at the heart of the controversy. Nor does he ever speak about that immense power that would be invested in an international order that would dictate rules that control many of the activities in our daily lives. Is not the EU a lesson here?
Pope Francis must resign. He is in a position that requires a high level of intelligence, broad experience in the secular affairs of the world, a fundamental understanding of political economy, leadership qualities that require well-thought out positions expressed with firmness and rationally supported. The Pope does not have these characteristics. He is a compassionate, loving, caretaker of the flock, especially the poor. In the vernacular, he is out of his league.
This at a time when religion in general and Catholicism in particular is struggling to survive. The situation will only become more critical, not only over the clerical sexual abuse scandal, but in the face of worldwide political instability, terrorism, cultural divide, and a waning of the faith of ordinary people in the institutions of our current society including the church.
If the Pope makes a statement that he will overlook child pornography if the children are well fed, my equivocation will turn into full apostasy – I will find a new church.