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Thursday, March 14, 2013

The New Pope and Our Cause

I celebrate along with the 1.2 billion Roman Catholics and innumerable other religious and nonreligious people around the world the election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina to the church's highest office.  Even thought I am a Protestant, I hold the Catholic Church in high esteem and recognize its importance to the world.  

All the earmarks are pointing in the right direction: Pope Francis I, is a product of the struggle in Latin America for justice for the poor, and is known as a critic of the business interests who continuously exploit their people.  He is a humble man, eschewing the perks of his high office, preferring public transportation to chauffeured limousines, and lives in a small flat, not a palace.  "Cardinal Bergoglio had a special place in his heart and his ministry for the poor, for the disenfranchised, for those living on the fringes and facing injustice," said Vatican spokesperson Thomas Rosica.  Even the choice of his papal name bespeaks of a man who cares deeply for human injustices. That is, for all but one:

The above quote occurred during the campaign in Argentina that resulted in legalization of same-sex marriage in 2010.  He also warned that adoption by gay parents would result in depriving children "of the human growth that God wanted [for] them given by a father and a mother."  

This makes me wonder how people of good will, and I believe most assuredly that our new pope is one, can isolate out certain injustices as not worthy of their attention.  Or in this case is seen as anything but an injustice, but an evil that must be eradicated.  

Sometimes it's simply a matter of theology or ideology trumping otherwise good judgment. It's seen in some Black Americans condemning LGBTs "because the Bible says they are an abomination," using as their source authority the same Bible that condemned them to slavery and segregation.  It's seen in Pro Life people who will sacrifice their lives to save the unborn, but won't support legislation to provide them a safety net after they are born.  It's seen in those who are against birth control, yet won't allow condoms to halt the spread of AIDS.  We could go on and on, couldn't we.  

The Catholic Sun says of Pope Francis I,
His role often forces him to speak publicly about the economic, social and political problems facing his country. His homilies and speeches are filled with references to the fact that all people are brothers and sisters and that the church and the country need to do what they can to make sure that everyone feels welcome, respected and cared for.  
How often have we seen signs on churches that advertise, "All are welcome here," only to find that this welcome is not universal, not for all.  Such statements from the pope are hypocritical at worst and blithely naive at best. As for "respected and cared for", how can we take him seriously when he supports the view, as stated in a letter to the Bishops (drafted by then Cardinal Ratzinger) from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, that homosexuals are "intrinsically disordered"? (This is from the same Congregation that ran the infamous Inquisition.)

Many believe that the Roman Catholic Church has lost its standing to tell anyone how to conduct sexually moral lives.  Perhaps this is partially why 58% of American Catholics support same-sex marriage, while only 38% oppose it.  And many of the most Catholic of countries, Spain, Portugal and even Argentina have legalized it.  People have a way of seeing through inconsistencies and rank injustices.

I am not a "one issue" voter.  I will not disregard the pope, or the Catholic Church for that matter, simply because they are on the opposite side of this issue from me.  I will support them for the many, many good things they do in the world for the poor and marginalized.  I will pray for the pope for the wisdom and support he needs to guide his church in the coming days and years.  But I will also speak out against this outrageous omission, this blind spot in the pope and his church, with the hope that maybe some day the leaders of the church will catch up to the wisdom of their members.


Robert Cornwall said...

Steve, thanks for your insight. I'm in agreement with you on this, even though I might be more optimistic than you!!

Steve Kindle said...

We can always hope, eh Bob?