Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The Pope: Same Message, Different Presentation

Pope Francis has been making a stir with the secular liberals, for no reason that I can gather. I've come to the conclusion that the fuss has little to do with the new Pope and is mainly fuelled by secular liberals lack of knowledge of Catholicism and what it actually says.

What prompted this post is the apparent shock Francis's recent interview were he said some (apparently) shocking things about homosexuals, but has been on my mind for awhile as the new Pope seems to have made a habit of shocking certain people, by well saying what every other Pope has said on the same issues.

The particular quote thats making the rounds in the liberal blogosphere?

'If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?
'If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?' - See more at: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/pope-francis-who-am-i-judge-gay-people290713#sthash.fOFAPDa7.dpuf
As someone from a Catholic background I don't really see why this is surprising. There's more then one reason why this is standard Catholic practice. Officially the only one who can judge your moral worth i.e. will you be getting into Heaven or not is God. When you go to confession your not asking the priest in the other booth for forgiveness your asking his advice on how best to show God you seek to make amends for your behaviour. Now I understand things like confession aren't things non Catholics will have much experience of but there is a certain phrase that I'm certain most Westerners at least should know regarding religious judgement "Love the sinner, hate the sin" your not technically supposed to hate the gays but the gay acts (as in sex acts not being effeminate/butch).

Now I'm sure you can think of a few cases where the Catholic absolutely did judge others and acted towards sinners in a manner that clearly wasn't loving. Perhaps the most infamous are the Inquisition and the counter reformations, thing is the Catholic church like most authoritarian institutions is quite willing to ditch its ideals as long as it feels threatened (forget brotherhood, bring out the thumbscrews) or sees an opportunity to profit, collusion with oppressive regimes, and the establishment of a banking powerhouse after centuries of calling greed a sin.

Oh and while we're on the subject let me just clarify what the actual sin of homosexuality is in Catholic doctrine. The sin is based on the concept Sodomy, but sodomy does not mean man and man or woman on woman. Sodomy means anal and oral sex, which you don't have to be Gay to enjoy. Because that sex won't result in procreation of a baby. Using sodomy as a starting point official Cathlic doctrine views any and all sexual acts as sinful if its not for unity (marriage relations) and reproduction. Its basically the same objection they have to contraceptives and why the last Pope finally caved and said if your Gay and or a prostitute you might as well be save and rubber up* to paraphrase Benedict.

And since the Catholic already has a forgive and forget practice with contraceptive users, then why not the same for those who have Gay sex?  In fact in the interview Francis himself explicitly states that the Catholic church has officially held this view for a long time "The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says they should not be marginalized because of this, but that they must be integrated into society,' ". The Catholic solution to the "Gay problem" isn't supposed to be punishment or exclusion but a form of brotherhood with the aim of "helping" gays resist the urge to practice their "sin". 

Also in the interview was a reassertion of his intentions to oppose LGBT rights like when he urged France to repeal its gay marriage law.

'The problem is not having this orientation. We must be brothers. The problem is lobbying by this orientation, or lobbies of greedy people, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the worse problem.'

There is nothing that Pope Francis has said here that is remotely pro Gay or different from current church practice. I suspect those wishing otherwise do so out of a desire to see progress, but it just isn't the case.


Leaving aside the queer folk for a moment about a month ago Francis made another public statement about money that caught a few off guard even though yet again his statement didn't really differ at all from what the other Popes have said from the very beginning of the Catholic church.

Pope Francis has hit out at unbridled capitalism and the "cult of money", calling for ethical reform of the financial system to create a more humane society.
In an impassioned appeal, the Argentinian pontiff said politicians needed to be bold in tackling the root causes of the economic crisis, which he said lay in an acceptance of money's "power over ourselves and our society".
"We have created new idols," he said in a speech in the Vatican. "The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal."
 Now that sounds pretty good and I'm sure quoting Francis will help win a few internet arguments over the money is moral crowd but again aside from rhetorical flourish this isn't anything new. In fact wagging the bony finger at the money lenders is as old as the Catholic Church itself. For example charging interest on a loan Usury was a very serious breach of Catholic morality, so much so that it indirectly allowed the Jews of Italy and Spain to carve out a niche for themselves in financial banking and market trade. This is why the stereotype of Jews being wealthy or dominant in the financial sector despite being a heavily oppressed and maligned minority became so prevalent virtually every serious loan came from a Jew.

Greed is actually one of the big Seven Sins in Catholicism, so it shouldn't surprise anyone that the Supreme Catholic has a few words to say on global capital. And again this area is where the Catholic hierarchy shows themselves to be the most hypocritical. Despite supposedly hating wealth accumulation the Vatican is not only hoarding an absolutely fortune in expensive artwork and golden furnishings but it has its own banking arm with links to the Mafia.
Investigators want to know more about vast sums of money that are said to have passed through his account to establish if they were money laundering operations by on the run Mafia Godfather, Matteo Messina Denaro.
 And in addition to its own banking operations the Vatican Bank has been itself a major shareholder in a number of other financial institutions not exactly known for there good works and ethical practices, like Banco Ambrosiano a bank built by the Mafia and whose deals involved arms smuggling including Exocet missiles to Argentina during the Falklands conflict.

So don't believe the hype, if Francis is really serious about tackling the cult of money it'll take more then riding around in a bus to sort out. And even if he is serious about it I very much doubt he'll be able to do much about it since the Catholic church is run by senior Bishops, -thats how the past Pope's have survived the numerous scandals- some of whom have powerful connections within and without the church and are up to their necks in all sorts of dodgy stuff.

Those expecting substantial reform from Frankie No.1 are going to be disappointed, at best he's making some nice sounding noise to improve the Catholic churches image.

*Because they already break the rules it doesn't matter that you break another of equal importance.

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