Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Different Messenger, Same Message

Would you buy a used Fiat from this man?

Well, Pope Francis has come and gone.  He was greeted like a rock star during his Washington, New York, Philadelphia tour – while journalists who should know better suspended judgment.  Thankfully, the Pope’s presence here pushed coverage of the Presidential race off the front page – our election cycles are ridiculously lengthy.  Par for the course with this Pope, he seemed to be all things to all people.  As a parting gift of sorts, the Vatican confirmed he met with Kentucky based, four times married, thrice divorced, lunatic/clerk Kim Davis.  Atypically, the meeting was held in secret and only grudgingly confirmed by the Vatican after Davis went public with the information.  It’s almost as if the Vatican knew the meeting would be an embarrassment.

Before I’m accused of being an anti-Catholic bigot, allow me to offer a disclosure: I was raised Methodist, and have family members who run the gamut from Catholic to Seventh-Day Adventist.  I’ve attended Catholic Mass and admired the beauty of their services, particularly those offered in Latin.  I’ve also visited non-Christian places of worship.  But I’ve long had a skeptical nature and now consider myself to be agnostic leaning toward atheist. 

I can't say I'm disappointed in the Pope for meeting with Kim Davis, because I was never really expecting anything different.  Perhaps it’s because I worked so many years as a salesmen; but I’ve long been suspicious of deflection and phony humility.  Sure, Francis rides around in cheap cars, has a friendly demeanor, and he's said some worthy things about the environment and the dangers of unrestrained capitalism (although he’s never acknowledged how the Church’s billions of dollars in art, precious metals, and real estate holdings could be put to good use for the poor).  Pope Francis’ comments have been flamed by America’s right-wing, while the left-wing has gone into raptures of adoration.  His "who am I to judge?" comment, hopefully clung to by religious gays since early in his papacy, was in response to a hypothetical question about celibate gay priests.  Pope Francis’ recent statement that "God weeps" about child molestation carried out by Catholic priests changes nothing about the Church's response - they continue to regard it as an internal Church matter rather than something to be addressed by legal authorities.

It’s time for Catholics and non-Catholics alike to face the truth – after all, it’s said the Truth will set you free: There's not much substantively different in Pope Francis than his two predecessors, the vastly overrated John Paul II and truly malevolent Benedict XVI.

Religion is snake oil, whether that religion calls itself Catholic, Protestant, Islam, Jewish, Hindu – or any other name.  Religion has caused more wars, oppression, and suffering for humanity - for more millennia - than any other force.  The advance of Christianity led to the 1,000 year dark ages, and today radical Islam threatens a new dark age.  As an allegedly educated people, Americans should know better.  I take heart in recent polls that indicate my fellow Americans are gradually becoming more secular, with the caveat that it can’t happen quickly enough.

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