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.
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.
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.