Is Pope Francis up to the job? Does he even understand what the job is?
It's beginning to look like his ever-present public smile is not the smile of an affable, avuncular and kindly old man full of the joy of living, but the stupid grin of a confused and muddled misfit not quite sure what he should be doing. His spontaneous little 'pearls of wisdom' as often as not seem like the thoughtless blurtings of someone who can't keep his silly mouth shut as he lurches about like a theological loose cannon.
To add to his recent monumental blunder in telling people that those who insult religions can expect to be punched, in complete contradiction to the official Christian party line that Christianity is all about forgiving and turning the other cheek, no matter what they actually do in practice, and apparently in support of the Islamic terrorism he was supposed to be condemning, he has now accused Catholics of 'breeding like rabbits'.
Leaving aside the biological ignorance in that statement - if Christians used sex for what the Christian Church teaches, for procreation and not pleasure or social bonding, then rabbits is exactly what they should breed like - this runs counter to what the Catholic Church has been insisting on for centuries.
For years, successive Popes have urged Catholics to let nature take its course so far as family planning is concerned, condemning even the withdrawal method as a mortal sin and advocating only the least effective known method of contraception - the 'rhythm method'. I wonder how a desperately poor woman in a Nicaraguan or Phillipino flavella, worn down by constant pregnancy and struggling to feed and clothe a dozen or more children who never-the-less took pride in her obedience to Catholic doctrine, seeing her life of drudge and grinding poverty as some sort of test with a promise of jam tomorrow in the next life, feels about being told by this most insensitive of Popes that she has been breeding unnecessarily and irresponsibly like a rabbit. It's the kind of anti-Catholic inflammatory rhetoric we are used to hearing from ultra-puritanical Presbyterians in Northern Ireland or Glasgow.
His 'punch your enemy' statement had to be quickly clarified (i.e. contradicted) by a 'Vatican spokesman' who explained that Pope Francis had used a 'humorous analogy' and was not condoning violence.
The signs were there early that he may not have a firm grasp on Catholic dogma when he appeared to say that you didn't need to be a Christian to get into Heaven; that even Atheists could get there provided they lived a good life. This of course completely contradicts Christian, let alone Catholic Christian, dogma that the only way to Heaven is to accept Jesus as your 'saviour', and relegates the Christian Churches to complete irrelevance. In an interview with a leading Italian Atheist, Pope Francis appeared to be bending over backwards to show that he was trying to import a great deal of modern secular humanism into Catholicism, together with its liberal tolerance and support for female and homosexual equal rights, alternative religions and no religion at all. This prompted some people to remark that, whereas Christians often patronise Atheists with, "That's a very Christian thing to say!", in the case of the Pope, we could now say, "That's a very Atheist thing to say!"
Again, a 'Vatican spokesman' was pushed before the world's press to 'clarify' that this didn't mean Atheists could get to Heaven just by being good people, but they had to accept Jesus and be good Catholics too.
And of course we've had a series of gaffes in his statements intended to show that the Catholic Church is becoming less misogynistic which were themselve hair-curlingly misogynistic and insensitive, culminating in his intentionally disparaging characterisation of the European Union as an aging and irelevent grandmother.
With Ratzinger safely out of public view but still there to ensure continuity while front-man Frankie strode around smiling benignly, using public transport and showing how much he loves and cares for people, people would soon forget all about the child abuse, financial corruption, male prostitute rings in the Vatican and putting the interests of the Church and its clerics above those of their victims, and see a new, human face on the throne of St Peter.
Things began to unravel when Francis tried to insert a clause ever-so-slightly sympathetic to homesexuals into the report of the synod of Catholic Bishops in Rome last year. This was unceremoniously removed and replaced by a reaffirmation of traditional Catholic homophobic bigotry which Pope Francis had no option but to accept. He made more enemies last December when he accused a sullen gathering of the Vatican Curia in his Christmas address of suffering from 'fifteen spiritual diseases', including 'spiritual Alzheimers' and 'theological schizophrenia' and indulging in 'the terrorism of gossip'. He was met with stunned silence.
This was not supposed to happen. They forgot to put an effective leash on him.
It would not be surprising if his hint that, like Ratzinger, he might retire at some point rather than die in office, becomes a reality rather sooner than he had intended. It will be interesting to have two Popes being kept out of public view in the Vatican.
The Catholic Church is faced with an apparently insoluble dilemma: in an increasingly secular world as secular Humanism replaces religious dogma and intolerance in the civilised world, it has to modernise or become irrelevant. The problem is that to modernise it has to abandon the very dogma it exists to enforce. This is quite simply because human society is advancing and taking control of its moral and ethical development and leaving behind the increasingly irrelevant medieval bigotry and superstition the Christian Church represents. The grappling hooks and chains with which the Church is trying to restrain human cultural advance, will either break or the Church will be pulled kicking and screaming into the future.
This Pope doesn't appear to know whether to lead, follow, or get out of the way.
'via Blog this'