Whoops Your "Progressive" Pope

[Content Note: Homophobia; Christian Supremacy.]

Over our holiday, there came the news that Pope Francis was "shocked" by legislation which would allow same-sex couples to adopt children in Malta, and urged Maltese Bishop Charles Scicluna "to speak out against it."

Today, there is news that, in November, Pope Francis said in a speech to the Catholic Union of Superiors General that the Catholic Church should rethink its approach toward children of gay parents, warning against "administering a vaccine against faith."

My point about the improved PR at the Holy See, here it is.

This pope is better at careful framing, but he is no more interested in meaningful inclusivity than any of his reprehensible predecessors. Buried in this story headlined "Pope calls for fresh Church approach to children of gay parents" is, for example, the following:
"On an educational level, gay unions raise challenges for us today which for us are sometimes difficult to understand," Francis said in a speech to the Catholic Union of Superiors General in November, extracts of which were published on Italian media websites on Saturday.

..."I remember a case in which a sad little girl confessed to her teacher: 'my mother's girlfriend doesn't love me'," he was quoted as saying.
What a neat anecdote! It really drives home the unique challenges of families with same-sex parents, doesn't it? Because no child has ever been sad about feeling unloved by a straight step-parent. Or a straight biological parent. It's good for all of us to consider the very specific sadnesses caused to children only by gay parents, and thank Maude for Pope Francis and his awareness-raising about this important issue.


I have been urged to see Pope Francis' rhetoric as a "good thing," or a "step forward," or some evidence of some sort of decency. They are admonishments that would not be made if Pope Francis were not a new pontiff, but a new CEO of a massive, influential, international corporate conglomerate which had been institutionally homophobic, misogynist, rape-abetting, racist, transphobic, classist, Christian supremacist, and politically aggressive in having its positions globally legislated.

If a corporate CEO were offering this weak garbage as ostensible evidence of broadening views, I would not be asked to commend it. But because it is a prominent religious leader, I am asked why I do not applaud "progress" that consists of self-serving pablum wrapped around othering anecdotes.

That's Christian privilege, right there. An entirely different standard for Pope Francis than would be granted to someone who did not lead a powerful Christian organization.

For a moment, just try to imagine what my response would be if some corporate crony of Mitt Romney's leaked a rumor that he sneaks out of his mansion at night to work at a soup kitchen. And then try to answer why my response should be any different for Pope Francis, why it is that I am expected to lavish him with praise and declare him a beacon of progress and a new kind of pope and a symbol for a changing Catholic Church.

Evidence of a more sophisticated spin machine is not evidence of progress.

I refuse to credit as progress what is a cynical bid for a better reputation on the same old shitty policies of bigotry. When I expect more, I actually expect more.

Otherwise, I'm just giving cover to continued oppression. Including my own. And asking me to participate in my own marginalization is (still) a request I cannot accommodate.

[Related Reading: Time's Person of the Year; The Advocate's Person of the Year.]

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