One Last Reality Check on the Pope and Kim Davis

By Betty Clermont | 4 October 2015
Daily Kos

(Photo: Franco Origlia / Getty)

The Vatican embassy in Washington DC is operated by the most experienced and oldest continuous foreign affairs department in the world. So, no, no one “duped” or “trapped” any official into having Pope Francis meet there with Kim Davis, especially when the pope specifically stated after their meeting that “conscientious objection” by “government employees” is a “human right.”

Today, the pope opened a synod for bishops: “This is God’s dream for his beloved creation: to see it fulfilled in the loving union between a man and a woman.”

The pope has consistently, since his time as cardinal primate of Argentina, shared Davis’ opposition to same-sex marriage. He has referred to such a union as “the work of the devil,” an “anthropological regression,” and “disfiguring God’s plan for creation.” He has called the movement in many countries to accept same-sex marriage as “ideological colonization that we have to be careful about that is trying to destroy the family.”

In his speech to the UN, Pope Francis “reminded the UN of their duty to recognize ethical limits, … ‘for carrying out an ideological colonization by the imposition of anomalous models and lifestyles which are alien to people’s identity and, in the end, irresponsible.’”

“Taken together with his unscheduled stop to see the Little Sisters of the Poor the Davis encounter means Francis has expressed personal support to leading symbols of the two most contentious fronts in America’s religious freedom debates – the contraception mandates imposed by the Obama administration, and conscientious objection on gay marriage.”

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia “has long been acknowledged as a leader of the Church’s conservative wing and a strong voice in America’s culture wars … Francis stressed the importance of religious freedom, one of Chaput’s signature issues, throughout the trip.”

“It was really good to know that Francis stands with us on this very important issue,” said Chaput.

Previously, Pope Francis granted a private audience to Steve Green, billionaire owner of Hobby Lobby, in March 2014. He “asked members of the Green family how their Supreme Court fight against President Obama’s contraception mandate was progressing.”

In June 2014, the pope met in private with Doug Coe, head of The Family, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and former U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne who served under Bush 43 amid unprecedented scandal. The Family is “the oldest and most politically influential Christian conservative organization in Washington.”

In November, the pope called for an ecumenical conference on the “complimentarity of man and woman in marriage” and gave the opening address.

In attendance were Rick Warren, “marriage can only be between a man and a woman;” Southern Baptist Convention’s Russell Moore, “marriage is culturally imperiled;” Nicholas Okoh, the Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria, “homosexuality is a manifestation of the devil;” and Alan Spears, president of the Alliance Defending Freedom, “the pope’s US visit could be the opportunity those fighting for traditional marriage have been waiting for.”

While in Washington DC, the pope also met with the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue,  who equated marriage equality with Apartheid.

Yes, the pope meets a lot of people but, except for Pres. Obama, he has never met in private with any US Democrat.

Yesterday, “Pope Francis called critics protesting the appointment of a new bishop in Chile, who has been accused of covering up sexual abuse crimes committed by priests, ‘lefties‘ in a video message” … “Think – with your head – and do not be swayed by the unfounded allegations of lefties,” Pope Francis said in footage broadcast Saturday by the Chilean TV channel Mega. Fifty one members of the Chilean Congress sent a letter protesting the appointment of Bishop Juan Barros to the Vatican. Parishioners had asked the Vatican for a message.

The pope previously decried an “economy of exclusion and inequality.” Yet finance executives such as a “billionaire investor,” the CEOs of Merrill Lynch & Co., Bank of America Corp, First Data Corp, the vice chairman at private-equity firm Blackstone Group and LP Jefferies Group LLC’s global head of equities, were “embracing his arrival in New York.”

Now that the 2016 campaign is well underway, of 14 speeches released to the press, the only omission the pope made from his prepared texts was, “If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance.”

The only “reform” Jorge Mario Bergoglio has brought to the Vatican curia was creating a Secretariat of the Economy under Australian Cardinal George Pell, friend of Rupert Murdoch, and a Secretariat for Communications – which shows where his priorities lie. (The Vatican Bank was forced to begin adopting standardized financial reporting and tightening up its loopholes for money laundering in 2010 or risk being excluded from international financial markets.)

The Secretariat for Communications should be proud of what was accomplished. After the pope had twice sympathized with his US bishops about how much they had suffered from the sex abuse scandal and praised their “courage,” a meeting with five victims abused by clergy or teachers or family members was arranged for the pope’s last day in this country so that that would be the final headline as he boarded the plane for his return to Rome.

On March 5, 2014, Pope Francis stated that, as regards the sexual torture of children, “The statistics on the phenomenon of violence against children are shocking, but they also show clearly that the great majority of the abuses come from the family environment and from people who are close. The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution that moved with transparency and responsibility. No one else did as much. And yet, the Church is the only one being attacked.”

News that the pontiff met with his former student who is gay along with his partner as well several other friends was withheld until after the brouhaha about Kim Davis had flamed out so this would be the final word.

But no matter how polished the PR, the pope’s trip was no comfort to children still being abused by priests around the world, women still being denied healthcare and gays still being persecuted.

Yesterday, a priest with a “high-profile role in the Vatican” who came out as gay on the eve of a big meeting of the world’s bishops was fired. Monsignor Kryzstof Charamsa had planned a press conference in Rome for midday on Saturday to discuss his sexual orientation and criticize the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for spreading ‘pervasive and blind homophobia,’ but was pre-empted by the Vatican action.”

Even though within six months of his election every Vatican official in an important decision-making position had either been appointed or approved by Pope Francis, the press always refers to unpopular judgments as being made by “the Vatican” and popular ones as “the pope’s.”

Betty Clermont is author of The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America (Clarity Press, 2009).

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  1. As much as I love my religion and always support the Church. Much of the writing above, give me pause. I hope I can be enlightened and believe all that I always have, pray for me.

  2. Conscientious Objection entails suffering the penalties associated with disobeying governmental laws. Tell us that the Pope agress that you can disobey and not suffer any penalty from the government. While he may support opposition to same-sex marriage, he could never be accused of placing religious belief over secular authority. The Pope needs to be questioned on that specific point. The moronic reporting on this issue needs clarification.

    • Moronic reporting? What about moronic commenting.
      I AGREE that the pope needs to be questioned on that point. The reporting raising objections to the pope's statements and actions in the absence of an answer to that question is no more moronic than the failure of the pope to address this crucial point.


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