Despite all his public protestations of goodwill to all gays and his desire to reform the Catholic Church to make it more kindly, tolerant, loving and forgiving and willing to embrace even women and homosexuals - or to at least acknowledge their worth as human beings, though not letting them anywhere near the centres of power, obviously, ‘Uncle’ Pope Francis has let slip the mask.
He has revealed the nastiness and sense of privilege and entitlement to hate and persecute that is still hiding beneath this cloak of affable inclusivity.
He revealed his campaign to show the contrast between the ‘new’ people-friendly Catholic Church and the old condemnatory, judgmental, hate-filled one of Popes Ratzinger and Wojtyla to be nothing more than a PR campaign designed to fool the masses into believing that the Church that was driving people away in droves, disgusted at its hypocrisy and sheer hatefulness, has learned the errors of its ways and is reforming itself.
The implications of the clandestine meeting between Pope Francis and Kim Davis and her husband can’t be over-stated. The Davis's were apparently smuggled into a private audience with the Pope, hugged and given gifts and whisked off again afterwards. This doesn't happen by accident but with careful planning. Pope Francis was privately and surreptitiously encouraging a Christian fundamentalist to break the law and subvert the constitution in a constitutionally secular, democratic, sovereign nation in which he was a guest.
Now, why would he try to keep this secret with all this cloak and dagger stuff? Because Pope Francis, or at least his minders, were fully aware of the implications. This was not the clumsy gaff that we've come to expect from 'innocent' Pope Frankie, but a carefully-planned act behind the backs of his hosts. This was an act of discourtesy equivalent to going to dinner at a friends house, then sneaking out the back, nipping over the fence to the neighbours and encouraging them in their dispute with your hosts over parking rights on the street outside.
Serial divorcee, Kim Davis, as readers will no doubt recall, is a fundamentalist Christian town clerk employed by the state, who, despite same-sex marriage being declared lawful by the US Supreme Court and despite the ‘Establishment Clause’ in the US Constitution forbidding the State or its employees from promoting any religion, refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples on the grounds that she disagreed with their right to marriage because of her Christian ‘faith’. She continued with her refusal despite a court order and was sent to prison for disobeying the court.
The right to marriage of divorcees, which her fundamentalist Christian 'faith' also forbids and classifies as bigamous and adulterous, justifying stoning to death, seems to have gone unnoticed by Kim Davis whilst cherry-picking her excuses for hate and persecution just as it seems to have done for Pope Francis who made not a mention of it.
By due process under US Law, Kim Davis is a convicted criminal, yet Pope Francis, as a guest of the American people, gave her clandestine moral support and encouragement on the grounds that he too feels that Christians are above the law and entitled to persecute and deny full human rights to gays and, one assumes, to anyone else of whose lifestyle they disapprove. According to Pope Francis then, Christians have the privilege to disregard the law when it clashes with their bigotry and to persecute others as and when they feel so entitled.
By his action, Pope Francis has shown that he believes the US Law and Constitution do not apply to Christians; that Christians in the USA live in some parallel world, not bound by democracy and collective decision-making by free people, and not subject to the rule of law. Presumably though, the law would apply to everyone else if it were Christians in charge like they used to be before we took their powers away, when witches and heretics were burned, hanged and decapitated en masse as a form of public entertainment and as an act of terrorism intended to bully a cowering and fearful people into compliance.
There appears to be no reason either that this principle should not apply in other sovereign nation states. In effect, Pope Francis is claiming the right for Christians to ignore the law anywhere and everywhere. In the Pope's Eutopia, Christians are not subject to the law; the law is subject to Christians. The interests of democracy and the principle collective decision-making do not outweigh the right of Christians to disregard democratic decisions, ignore accountable governments and flout the law whenever they can find an excuse to do so in their holy books or in the teachings of long-dead theologians.
Imagine for a moment the reaction to any other head of state or head of government on an official visit to the USA giving clandestine support and encouragement to law-breakers, or even to a radical political group campaigning to subvert the US Constitution and seeking to overthrow the secular republic created by the Founding Fathers in 1776.
Given the recent announcement by Davis that she is joining the increasingly extremist, fundamentalist Christian Republican Party, and their public support for her subversive criminality, the Pope's support was tantamount to an endorsement of the Republican Party and an interference in the internal politics of his host nation. The arrogance and contempt for democracy and the rule of law by Pope Francis is just astounding. And this is a man who is the absolute ruler of his own petty state who was appointed not by the democratic vote of members of the Church he heads but by a small, self-selecting cabal of similarly autocrats and, officially if not in private, homophobes.
It is clear now that the Catholic Church, even with the human face being painted by Pope Francis, can't change it's homophobic, anti-democratic spots. It is certainly not an organisation that can be supported by democrats, humanists and anyone who believes in human rights, the rule of law, and basic human decency. Nothing has changed in the Catholic Church under Pope Francis, other than the disguise under which it is now try to hide for fear that we see the nastiness festering underneath.