While many continue to be outraged that Pope Francis met secretly with four times married, serial adulterer, and anti-gay hypocrite Kim Davis, in some ways we should be thankful that Francis perhaps unwittingly revealed that much of his display on his trip to America was just slick public relations bullshit. Seeming meek and humble while doing evil and fanning bigotry doesn't make one a good person much less a good pontiff. Similarly, encouraging individuals to refuse to do their sworn public duty (and receiving nice salary in the process) simply underscores the sad fact that today's "godly Christians" view themselves as entitled to special rights. My blogger/activist friend Rev. Irene Monroe (her webpage is here) who I met in person at the 2008 LGBT blogger summit in Washington, D.C., rightly lets loose on Francis in a piece in the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News. Similarly, Rev. Gene Robinson takes Francis to task in a piece in Time. First, here are highlights from Irene's column:
[T]he Pontiff aptly stated in his 2013 interview “the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards" should the Catholic Church, in this 21st Century, continue on its anti-modernity trek like his predecessor.With that statement I thought Francis was going to reformed, if not reinvent, an out-of-step institution, but at the end of his visit the Pope was selling sadly the same product—Catholic orthodoxy. “Nothing more, nothing less,” Francis warning reporters on his trip from Cuba to Washington, DC,.“I may have given the impression of being a little more to the left, but it would not be a correct interpretation.”And he’s right. While Francis gave a well-deserved shout-out of praise to nuns—the backbone and housekeepers of the church—the ecclesiastical doors are still shut to ordaining women priest. Sadly, Francis doesn’t view the ban as a gender bias. When asked why the Pope remarked, “That can’t be done…I recall Pope Francis’s remarks when flying home after a weeklong visit to Brazil in 2013 when he was queried about the much talked about “gay lobby” in the Vatican. “If they accept the Lord and have good will, who am I to judge them,” Francis said. This public statement is the most LGBTQ affirming remarks the world has ever heard from the Catholic Church.But Francis’ words don’t match his actions.The Meeting of Families in Philadelphia included only one workshop on LGBTQ issues —a panel with a celibate gay Catholic and his mother, and no workshop on LGBTQ families. But his point about LGBTQ families and marriages got across loud and clear during his talk to Congress with his subtle jab at gay marriage: "I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family.“Francis’s trip to Our Lady Queen of Angels School in Harlem was important. The structural racism in the Catholic Church has made it an unwelcoming place of worship. African American Catholics are one of the smallest demographic groups in the church.In Francis’s effort to reach out to his Latin Americans with the canonization of Junipero Serra, he opened old wounds with Native Americans. Serra, a Spanish missionary, left a horrific legacy trying to decimate California Native American culture. Letters to stop Serra’s canonization were written to both the Vatican and Francis but these pleas fell on deaf ears.On the surface Francis displays a pastoral countenance to his papacy that seemingly extends to all.But rather we clearly see the geopolitics of a soft church bureaucrat evangelizing to today’s shrinking American Catholic Church - an institution that is less churched, less married, less white, and less conservative. And his welcoming demeanor is not enough, in my opinion, to bridge the diversity and divisions the American church faces.
Gene Robinson's column is likewise less than kind to Francis. Here are excerpts:
The inmates at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility apparently were not the only law breakers Pope Francis met with during his brief visit to the U.S. The Vatican has now confirmed that the pope met privately with Kim Davis, the county clerk in Rowan County, Ky., who notoriously went to jail rather than issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in her jurisdiction.
Davis broke the law and appears to be neither repentant for what she did nor sorry for the decision she made, which landed her in jail for five days. Rather, she seems proud of her act of civil disobedience, vows that she would do it again, and sincerely seems to believe she is taking one on the chin for Jesus.
Davis seems to believe that according to her understanding of scripture, marriage is simply not possible between two people of the same gender. The pope is correct in saying that many people feel they have the right to defy a law that seems unjust or immoral, but he is wrong to think that violators of a law should go unpunished.
Let’s be clear: Those who engage in civil disobedience do so knowing that they will be punished. . . . . The whole point of civil disobedience is to go to jail—and to inspire others to go to jail—until society can’t take it anymore and demands a change in the law that sent them to jail.
But while tone matters, there have been no substantive changes in the teaching, doctrine or policy of the church.
With respect to people like me, who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, we are “intrinsically disordered,” so says the church. Let that sink in. “Intrinsically” means there’s not a damned thing you can do about it; it’s just the way you are. “Disordered” means nature has made a categorical mistake with you, you are fundamentally flawed, and the most you can hope for from the church is pity, but what you will probably get instead is condemnation and exclusion.
If the feel-good “Francis effect” lulls people into ignoring these teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, of which he is the head, then shame on us.
I believe Pope Francis has picked the wrong issue and the wrong messenger to teach about civil disobedience.
[T]he controversy surrounding this county clerk is not about what she believes, but rather about the job a county clerk is required to do by law, which includes issuing marriage licenses to those qualified couples who apply for them. Kim Davis has a constitutional right to her opinion, but she does not have a constitutional right to stay in a job whose duties she is unwilling to perform.
If Davis’s conscientious objection doesn’t inspire anyone else to go to jail for the same cause, then she is not a hero, but merely an outlier and a one-off lawbreaker. Even if he opposes marriage equality, the pope would do well to stay away from this one.
I left the Catholic Church almost 15 years ago because I viewed the institution - especially its leadership - to be morally bankrupt. That assessment has not change. Francis is merely putting a smiling face on an evil institution. We must not forget that truth.