Why I’m not a Pope Francis Fanboy

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A little over a week ago, the Internet was buzzing with yet another “Pope Francis did something else adorable and kind!” story. In case you missed it, or you are once again too lazy to click on the link, Francis was giving a homily to a large congregation to celebrate the Year of Faith. A small group of children were invited to sit behind the Papal Throne. One of them, a small boy, wandered up to look at the Pope as he was speaking. Even as security attempted to remove him, Francis shooed them away and allowed the boy to stay. Eventually, he set the boy on his throne and continued with the homily. As expected, the world (or at least the large percentage of the world that regularly logs on to Buzzfeed) responded with an outpouring of affection for the newest pontiff.

Of course, this is only the latest in a long succession of anecdotes demonstrating Francis’s new policy of humbleness and service. Whether it’s washing the feet of a troubled Muslim girl or embracing a severely disfigured man, Francis and his publicity team are making all the right moves. And the world is noticing. After Benedict’s years of hard-lined conservatism and antagonism towards those the Church regularly rails against (not to mention his part in the cover-up of the child rape fiasco), Francis feels like a breath of fresh air. He kisses babies! He hangs out with poor people! He carries his own bag and lives in a small flat instead of the Papal apartments! He’s amazing! In a few short months, Francis has soared to become the most beloved religious figure since Mother Theresa.

And I just don’t get it.

I really don’t.

Because no matter what Francis does, how many babies he kisses, how many kind and sweet words he says, it doesn’t change the fact of what he is.

Pope Francis is the head of the largest criminal organisation on earth. And there is simply no getting around that. And that being understood, what praise is he worthy of? Why is it so admirable that Francis has a good PR team? What is so laudable about being able to play the part of a saint on earth? I don’t know, and so that’s why I find the reams of adoration being heaped on Francis so mind-bogglingly unbelievable.

I really don’t want to get back into what the Catholic Church did in Ireland at this time, because I’ve already written a couple posts concerning the Troubles and it’s too soon to hash out what the Catholic terrorist militias did to us again. I will, however, mention the existence of the Magdalene Laundries, where the Church enslaved and abused thousands of young women and girls as young as nine. And I will mention that Ireland one of the hardest countries hit by the child rape cover-up. Catholic priests such as Sean Fortune raped hundreds, perhaps thousands of young boys and the Catholic hierarchy covered it up, exposing more children to monsters. The coppers in the coffers of the cardinals were more important than the lives of hundreds of children.

This was not a ‘sex-abuse scandal.’ A scandal is when a politician is caught with a couple of prostitutes in a dirty water closet. What the Church is guilty of is the systematic, aggressive, and widespread cover up of the rape and molestation of thousands of young children across the world. It is guilty of placing child rapists in contact with children knowing that they were repeat offenders. It is guilty of destroying thousands of lives, indirectly causing hundreds of cases of suicide or deep psychological scaring. The corruption and cover up was traced through the ranks of Catholic authourity, right up to former Pope Benedict.

“But Pope Francis wasn’t tied to any of that!” his defenders will claim. “He’s done nothing but show love to his followers and to his detractors! He’s a good man!”

Well, so what?

Would you celebrate a mob boss who gives generously to a children’s hospital?

What about a preacher who encourages men in the church but beats his wife at home?

Is the man who runs a drug cartel above criticism if he doesn’t do drugs himself and never personally buys and sells them?

If your answer to the above questions is ‘no,’ then you cannot give Francis a free pass. As much as Christians try to watch each others backs (even if they’re only preparing to stab them at a later date) Francis is not above the law. Neither is the organisation he heads. The Catholic Church is not truly a church. It’s a huge criminal syndicate and paedophile protection ring, guilty of systematic murder, rape, child molestation, theft, and slavery around the world.

It’s not altogether surprising that Catholics rush to defend their Pope with such fervor. I have come across many Catholic writers and bloggers who diminish the crimes by labeling those who suffered at their hands – including the victims – as being hateful and anti-Christian. After all, the Catholic hierarchy is the absolute standard of moral truth in Catholicism. Things like child rape are a rather ugly smear on that moral authourity. Those of us who point out the Church’s complicity in protecting the child rapists in their ranks are accused of taking ‘pot shots’ or ‘cheap shots’ at the Church and at Francis. But what astonishes me is how many non-Catholics and even agnostics and atheists are leaping upon the Pope Francis bandwagon. Even the media is celebrating his “cleaning up the Catholic Church” even as another child abuse cover up comes out in the Twin Cities.

I don’t like it. I don’t agree with it. Maybe it’s part of growing up in fear of the Church’s cruelest adherents that makes me so skeptical of its gentlest face. But I have confess, I have nothing but awe at this clear and marvelous example of the power of Panem et Circenses. You probably remember that phrase from university philosophy or history classes. If not, you probably know it from The Hunger Games. The literal translation is “Bread and Circuses.” Food and entertainment, essentially. It refers to the tendency of the mob to adore whomever is giving them what they need and distracting them from their sorrows.

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Here comes Pope Katniss!

And that is exactly what Francis and his PR team is doing. And they are doing it. So. Well. They have gotten the Internet, that seductive yet ravenous harpy, on his side. And that is really saying something. Francis is giving all his adherents and his critics what they needed from the Church. Messages of acceptance, of hope, of new beginnings. And he is giving us what we want to see. Inspirational anecdotes of love and kindness that we can post on Internet message boards and coo over as the Catholic hierarchy grasps at the last straws of its power.

Don’t believe me? Look how quickly discussing the child abuse cover-up when Catholicism comes up has gone from ‘stating facts’ to ‘making cheap shots.’

Which is why I cannot defend Francis, cannot like him, cannot view his playacting as anything more than it is – an attempt to distract and distort the nature of what the Catholic Church is doing around the world. I do not believe that it is a coincidence that as the child rape cover-up continues to mount up, as a widely reviled and mocked Pope mysteriously steps down, a newer, gentler man steps up to salve the wounds. I am again astonished at how effective it has been.

What the Pope is doing is the equivalent of pouring baby oil on a gaping wound and saying ‘There, there.’

It’s abhorrent, and it’s wrong. Because you don’t stick a six-inch knife in someone, withdraw it three inches, and call it progress.

That’s not progress. It’s deception.

Disclaimer:

After my last post concerning Martin Luther, I thought it would be appropriate to balance it out with a post about Francis. The necessity of this post was apparent after I read a post on The American Jesus by Zach Hunt. Several parts of this article were taken from the comments I originally made there.

8 thoughts on “Why I’m not a Pope Francis Fanboy

  1. “I have come across many Catholic writers and bloggers who defend the paedophiles and diminish their crimes by labeling those who suffered at their hands – including the victims – as being hateful and anti-Christian.”

    I do not see where I labeled those who suffered at their hands as being hateful or anti-Christian. I would invite you to point this out more clearly.

    I have been consistent in my condemnation of priests who commit child abuse (as well as priests who abuse their positions). I have also said that the handling of the abuse cases were handled wrongly.

    If I was unclear in any way on this, I would invite you to point out what was unclear about my statements.

  2. “This isn’t to say that the shots taken are fair. For the most part, they are not.”
    (Implying that they are not true).

    “I’m sure the parents of those abused and the parishioners who discovered that the priest who gave their daughter’s first communion was an abuser find great humor in mocking the church.”
    (Shifting the blame from the abusers to the accusers, also accusing them of being anti-Christian by calling their charges ‘mocking’)

    “So it is with some trepidation, and frankly sadness, that I put forward this defense.”
    (Even you call your defense of the Church’s crimes what it is. A defense.)

    “I think an honest, frank assessment of the initial handling of the abuse cases is that it took too long for the church to wake up to the scandal within its own walls.”
    (See my above statement on the diminishing tactic of calling the cover-up a ‘scandal’)

    “It is popular to throw out the accusation that Ratzinger was complicit and even proactive in the cover up of abuse”
    (It is popular, and it is accurate. Your defense of Ratzinger by his accusers implies that it is the victims who are lying.)

    “Additionally, enemies of the church whose goal is to cause problems, remove priests that they do not agree with, or just hate the church for a variety of reasons, use the abuse scandals as a vehicle to slander and impose additional costs on the church.”
    (And here is where you state that victims of child rapists are enemies of the church and haters who are trying to hurt your beloved Church by making them pay money).

    “But what is also frustrating is witnessing enemies of the church, and those apathetic to the church who are only too happy or too complicit to be willing to perpetuate a false notion that the church is some sort of isolated group where sexual abuse runs rampant and no one cares.”
    (Again calling the victims and witnesses and accusers ‘enemies of the church’ seeking to sow division. Because sexual abuse in the church was rampant and no one did care until the public was made aware of it).

    And finally, you claim that you have denounced the child rapists in your Church and the handling of the case. But never once in the article I mentioned did you do such a thing. Instead, you gave pithy service to the idea that we should ‘protect’ service before you started railing against the victims, calling them enemies of the Church.

    • “This isn’t to say that the shots taken are fair. For the most part, they are not.”
      (Implying that they are not true).

      — If you read the context of that quote, I am referring to the shots directed at the pope or the church in general which imply that child abuse is an endorsed practice or treasured practice within the church. Read a @pontifex tweet, then read the replies. Those that accuse him and bishops of loving young boys is what I was referring to.

      “I’m sure the parents of those abused and the parishioners who discovered that the priest who gave their daughter’s first communion was an abuser find great humor in mocking the church.”
      (Shifting the blame from the abusers to the accusers, also accusing them of being anti-Christian by calling their charges ‘mocking’)

      — Again, read within context of what I wrote. I quoted a twitter user who had the audacity to setup a fake twitter account supposedly as a priest who tweeted incessantly about abusing boys. I find the fact that some would joke about what is a horrific crime to be repugnant. Others evidently find it humorous. Bridging the accusation of “mocking” to me calling them anti-Christian is your assumption, not something I said.

      “So it is with some trepidation, and frankly sadness, that I put forward this defense.”
      (Even you call your defense of the Church’s crimes what it is. A defense.)

      — My defense is of the larger church and the thousands upon thousands of innocent priests and bishops. You quote here out of context. The very next sentence says: “[My defense is n]ot of the abusing priests, and not the covering up, but defending against those whose wish, intentionally or through indifference, is to perpetuate the notion that the Catholic church is a hotbed for sexual abuse.”

      “I think an honest, frank assessment of the initial handling of the abuse cases is that it took too long for the church to wake up to the scandal within its own walls.”
      (See my above statement on the diminishing tactic of calling the cover-up a ‘scandal’)

      — Scandal : “an action or event regarded as morally or legally wrong and causing general public outrage.” This is scandalous. It does not diminish the abuse from being criminal, nor does it lessen the charge on those who covered up. My assessment in this quote agrees with you that the church was wrong in its handling. Where I would likely disagree with you is that this is a systemic problem rooted in a deep criminality of the church.

      “It is popular to throw out the accusation that Ratzinger was complicit and even proactive in the cover up of abuse”
      (It is popular, and it is accurate. Your defense of Ratzinger by his accusers implies that it is the victims who are lying.)

      — It is a debatable point, and one that I provide a link for people to do their own research. That link is here: http://popebenedictandclergyabuse.blogspot.com/

      “Additionally, enemies of the church whose goal is to cause problems, remove priests that they do not agree with, or just hate the church for a variety of reasons, use the abuse scandals as a vehicle to slander and impose additional costs on the church.”
      (And here is where you state that victims of child rapists are enemies of the church and haters who are trying to hurt your beloved Church by making them pay money).

      — No, this is not what I am saying at all. The people I am referring to here are people who were never abused. I am speaking to the opportunists who claim to have been abused but in fact were not. I know people personally who have been hurt by priests (not child abuse, however). Through my network I know people who are parents of children that were abused by a priest. What was done to those boys was criminal. You assertion requires a blatant misreading of what I wrote.

      “But what is also frustrating is witnessing enemies of the church, and those apathetic to the church who are only too happy or too complicit to be willing to perpetuate a false notion that the church is some sort of isolated group where sexual abuse runs rampant and no one cares.”
      (Again calling the victims and witnesses and accusers ‘enemies of the church’ seeking to sow division. Because sexual abuse in the church was rampant and no one did care until the public was made aware of it).

      — And this is where the numbers played out that I quoted. Studies have shown that abuse within the Catholic church is at no higher instance, and likely lower, than that of general society. Abuse has not been rampant – but, as I said in the post, that doesn’t matter. Any abuse is inexcusable.

      And finally, you claim that you have denounced the child rapists in your Church and the handling of the case. But never once in the article I mentioned did you do such a thing. Instead, you gave pithy service to the idea that we should ‘protect’ service before you started railing against the victims, calling them enemies of the Church.

      — Once again, I never called the victims the enemies of the church. The victims are that: victims. While I appreciate that the post may not have been the most clearly written piece, I would hope that this response clears up for you what I was writing about. In case it falls short, let me try to be as clear as possible here:

      Those priests who abused children are criminals. Those bishops who knowingly hid those actions from law enforcement committed crimes. The abuse rate within the church is disturbingly high because there is no acceptable level of abuse. Even more disturbing is how much abuse is being committed in society in general. With this stated, I would hope we can conclude that all abuse must be handled strictly, both within the Church and without. And, I hope that we properly identify those who are criminal vs. those who are innocent and not simply associate a person as a molester because they wear a Roman collar.

      • I find it curious that you expect me to translate your original article the same way you translate the Bible. I, quite frankly, took what you were saying at face value. But you expect me to know your true meaning by translation, interpretation, and clarification. That most likely what caused the discrepancy between what you claimed you meant and how I read it.

        At any rate, it is likely that we will never agree on this. You continually focus on the abuse and claim that it is no higher than the general population (which may or may not be true. What is true is that priests have a much higher proportion of abuse than their representation in the general population, about 2% vs. 0.02%). However, the cover-up of the abuse means that the rate those who participated in and were complicate in child abuse is much, much, much higher than other institutions.

        When you defend a criminal organisation, you defend their crimes. That’s the end of it.

  3. The only way you could get that from what I wrote is to make assumptions about my intentions. I suspect much of this comes from the fact that you see the church as an impossibly corrupt and criminal organization – a view that I obviously disagree with. I know there is a deeper history between you and the church, and I hope to learn more about it with time.

    Despite this disagreement, I am still left wondering how you can take my comments so far out of context that they are construed as defending paedophiles and calling the victims enemies of the church. The quotes you pulled out of my post obviously required that you cut them in such a way so as to obscure the sentence. Take as an example this quote that you pulled:

    “‘So it is with some trepidation, and frankly sadness, that I put forward this defense.’
    (Even you call your defense of the Church’s crimes what it is. A defense.)”

    It seems highly convenient that you would not include (or maybe you didn’t read?) the very next sentence in which I explain who the defense was for. “[My defense is n]ot of the abusing priests, and not the covering up, but defending against those whose wish, intentionally or through indifference, is to perpetuate the notion that the Catholic church is a hotbed for sexual abuse.”

    In your post you wrote of me that I “defend the paedophiles and diminish their crimes”. This statement is libelous and entirely untrue. Not only is there no place in my post in which I defend those committing peadophilia, I specifically state that I will not do so. I have offered further clarification here for you and your readers. I would request that you amend your post to not accuse me of defending peadophiles since it is clear that I am doing no such thing.

    If you will not do so, then I will leave it to your readers to determine if you are being intellectually honest with your assessment of what I wrote, and I would welcome comments to that effect.

    • At your request I have removed the link to your page from my article. Since you are adamant that you are not defending the child rapists or their actions in the Catholic Church, I have to take you at your word. However, I stand by my assertion that articles like yours, which refer to those of us who seriously discuss the failings of the Church as ‘taking shots,’ contributes to the ongoing diminishing of the church abuse scandal by portraying it as no worse than anywhere else. This is merely my opinion and what I took away from reading your original post, where you focus far more on the critics than the criminals.

      • Thank you – that is appreciated.

        For the record, I have not seen you take the type of cheap shot that I was writing about. Despite our disagreements, I’ve always found you to be an honest debater, and your agreement to remove the link holds true to that end.

        I would welcome a discussion on the point of whether or not the problem within the church is worse than anywhere else. The research I have seen shows that it is not worse than elsewhere – that the problem is actually worse in other environments, but I am more than open to viewing research that disagrees with this assertion.

  4. “What is true is that priests have a much higher proportion of abuse than their representation in the general population, about 2% vs. 0.02%”

    This is what I was writing about (again, it makes me wonder if you read my post with a sense of objectivity or with the conclusion already in mind that I was going to defend criminals).

    From PsychologyToday.com “The 4% figure [(estimate of priest abuse)] appears lower than school teachers during the same time frame and certainly less than offenders in the general population of men”

    There are numerous studies on this which show repeatedly that the problems within the church – and it is a *criminal problem* – is less than in the general population as well as other institutions (such as public schools or the boy scouts). These other organizations also had cover-ups, secret lists, etc.

    Since what I have said has been taken out of context before, let me be clear: the abuse is abhorrent in any proportion. I am not saying this isn’t a big deal nor am I diminishing these crimes. But to say that the abuse rate among priests is higher than their representation in the general population is a statement without basis and disagrees with the research that exists.

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