Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Don't be fooled by Francis

[Originally posted at NOW]

Desperate as they ever are to believe that inside every scrofulous and reactionary organized religion is a cosmopolitan beacon of enlightenment crying to burst out, liberals have once again allowed themselves to be taken for a ride by a shady cleric, this time the current Bishop of Rome and former friend of Argentina’s notoriously murderous military dictatorship of the ‘70s and ‘80s.

What’s seduced them is Pope Francis’ off-the-cuff remarks to journalists on Monday regarding homosexuality. “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” he asked rhetorically, adding that gays should not be “marginalized” but rather “integrated into society.”

Which is apparently all it takes to melt the more soluble hearts among us. “Pope Francis took a huge step forward for the Catholic church,”said The Atlantic Wire’s Connor Simpson. “[This] real blockbuster […] is a radical change of position from Francis’ predecessor.”

“May he next open the door on contraception,” cooed the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof.

Yet, as the merest flicker of skepticism should elucidate, the statements don’t amount to any tangible departure from orthodox Catholic doctrine at all. The first sign of this came from Francis himself, who rushed to explain that it was gay “lobbying” that was the real “problem,” a pronouncement sinister and plain weird in about equal quantities.

Besides, what constitutes “search[ing] for the Lord and [having] good will”? Refraining from having gay sex, presumably. Certainly no one with serious Vatican expertise seems to believe anything will differ henceforth. “I don’t know that we’ve learned anything new at the level of content,” said National Catholic Reporter John L Allen, who was present when Francis made the remarks. “Church stance will not change,” was Papal Adviser John Haldane’s rather blunter message for the BBC. Veteran LGBT activist Peter Tatchell perhaps put it best:

“Pope Francis has offered a change of tone in Vatican pronouncements on gay people but not a change in substance. The church’s hardline stance against gay equality and relationships remains intact. It opposes same-sex marriage. The Catechism condemns homosexual love using strident, inflammatory and homophobic language.”

As it will continue to do so long as it is safeguarded by a man who just three years ago declared the idea of gay marriage “an attempt to destroy God’s plan.” So far from showering servile praise on such characters, it’s high time the intellectual class recognized them for the contemptible bigots they are – and confronted them.

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