Well, the conclave has met and elected a new Pope in just a few short days. This was an opportunity for the highest echelons of the Roman Catholic Church to address the problems that have plagued it in recent times, and to find a new boss who is willing to help the Church to adapt in the face of its continuing slide into irrelevance. As the world painfully drags itself towards a point where homosexuals are considered fully human, where women are considered owners of their own bodies, and where the terminally ill have a right to choose how and when they die, and not be forced to wait for their ailment to cause their body so much trauma that it ceases function, a Pope was needed who was at least willing to enter the conversation on these vital social issues.
Enter Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal-Priest of S. Roberto Bellarmino. Ordinary for the Ordinariate for the Faithful of Eastern Rites in Argentina, and now Pope Francis. Pretty much the nicest thing I can say about this newly infallible chap is that he looks less like Emperor Palpatine than Ratzinger. An illustrative quote says all that really needs to be said:
“Let’s not be naïve, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the father of lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.” – Bergoglio on same-sex marriage.
According to the new boss, same-sex marriage is no mere misstep of miserable humanity, but an essential cog in the workings of the Devil’s plan to undo God. This is offensive enough to an unbeliever, simply because of the massive failure of basic decency and compassion that it belies, but coming from someone who believes with utmost conviction that the Devil and the God are real entities, this is beyond despicable.
The grass is no greener when we turn to his views on abortion and euthanasia, describing the former as being part of a “culture of death”. I really ought not to be surprised, but as someone who actually gives a shit about my fellow humans, it only takes one story of a woman being denied an abortion on religious grounds, despite medical advice stating that this was the best possible avenue, and then dying along with her child to make me realise that those religious grounds have no place in an ethical discussion. And we have far more than just one story. Of course, we could eliminate the need for countless abortions if we put in place a comprehensive scheme of sex education about the wonderful benefits of contraception which, as well as helping in the fight against sexually-transmitted infections, greatly reduce the need for abortions. But, alas, Bergoglio is opposed to that too, all but guaranteeing that women will die carrying unwanted children, and children will be born into poverty, disease and suffering.
Your average Catholic is simply better than their Church. Even some elements of the Church itself realise how foolish and destructive this doctrine against contraception can be – one need only cite the Winnipeg Statement, wherein the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops state that is is, “extremely difficult or impossible to make their own all elements of this doctrine.” According to Catholics for Choice, 96% of Catholic women have used contraception at some point in their lives, and 72% of those polled think one can be a good Catholic without following this absurd teaching. But, when it comes to the men at the top, it is fervent faith and willingness to maintain the status quo, and not human compassion and rationality that holds sway. Sadly, I must report that I have no faith that this change of papacy really constitutes a change at all. Such is anathema to the Roman Catholic Church.