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pope francis

Your friendly reminder that the Pope is still an awful human being, and that if you were hoping he’d reform the Catholic church and finally make it LGBT friendly, you are a gullible fool taken in by PR hucksters (remember: the Pope has a PR guru, just like every other major league celebrity and politician).

Pope Francis: spanking your children is okay (so long as you aren’t gay, obviously).

Pope Francis has endorsed a rather ghastly anti-gay campaign in Slovakia. His face now fills billboards asking people to vote to an amendment banning same-sex marriage, adoption by same-sex couples and mandatory sex education.

Which is perfectly understandable: he heads a church that is institutionally anti-gay and he has repeatedly acted in opposition to gay rights. Despite all the many predictably craptastic things that Pope Francis has actually done, people will still continue to believe he is a breath of fresh air, a reformer, someone who was going to finally welcome the LGBT community into the church. The huge gap between the reality of the Pope’s actions and the wishful thinking of those who are enamoured with him is spectacular. Cognitive dissonance is a scarily powerful force.

Guess who the Pope has appointed to the job of policing sexual abuse in the Catholic Church? A priest who helped cover it up.

I’m sure the mainstream media will cover this given how it doesn’t at all contradict the saintly reformer image that Pope Frankie’s spin doctors and PR agents have created.

The best thing about the otherwise pretty horrible Humanum conference: the mainstream media are reporting what should have been fucking obvious—namely, that the Pope isn’t the radical they sold him to be. Told you so.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni calls on church leaders to support the government in its fight against homosexuality.

Further proof that until the scourge of religion is defeated, LGBT people shall never truly be free—and any freedom they do have can never be secure. And, yes, that’s the same Museveni that recently met and was blessed by the Pope.

Guess who is coming along to an interfaith conference on the “complementarity of man and woman in marriage” organised by the Pope? Tony Perkins from the virulently anti-gay Family Research Council.

So much for the bullshit myth that Pope Francis really, really loves gay people. “Who am I to judge?” he said. Well, he doesn’t need to judge. He can outsource that to Perkins, who has said that the It Gets Better project—an anti-bullying project!—is a “concerted effort to persuade kids that homosexuality is okay and actually to recruit them into that lifestyle”, advocates ineffective gay-to-straight conversion therapy, compares loving same-sex relationships to drug addiction, blames paedophilia exclusively on gay people, and argues that man-on-horse marriage is the logical outcome of same-sex marriage. (No, really.)

The fact that Pope Francis will be making Tony Perkins welcome at his event will in no way prevent idiots from believing that the Pope is some kind of agent of drastic change for the Catholic Church.

Elton John seems to think that Pope Francis is Tinker Bell too. The Church was on the edge of saying that we had “gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community”. Then they decided that we didn’t.1

Pope Francis is an amazing PR spin machine (in fact, the Vatican has external PR consultants), but his actions are so discordant with the progressive mood music. It is quite sad that Elton John can’t see through the spin and see that Francis doesn’t represent meaningful progressive change at all.

  1. Because fuck Michelangelo and his fucking Sistine Chapel—and fuck John Henry Newman too. Neither of those two men gave any “gifts” to the ungrateful Church.

Exorcism is coming back.

Remember: Pope Francis is a nice, liberal reformist. He’s reforming the Church back to the middle ages.

When the teenager being exorcised of his gay demons looks up at the priests looming over him performing their voodoo psychodrama, he can think “good thing we have a nice liberal reformist pope making everything better!”

Pope Tinker Bell turns out to be against feminism

Pope Francis thinks things about feminism.

What I would like to add is that feminism, as a unique philosophy, does not do any favors to those that it claims to represent, for it puts women on the level of a vindictive battle, and a woman is much more than that. The feminist campaign of the ’20s achieved what it wanted and it is over, but a constant feminist philosophy does not give women the dignity that they deserve. As a caricature, I would say that it runs the risk of becoming chauvinism with skirts.

Funny, because I thought feminism did things like fight for more equal access to jobs and education, and to help victims of rape and domestic violence and give people sexual autonomy to sleep with whoever they want to and plenty of other awesome nice things.

This is the guy everyone thinks is a progressive. He opposes abortion, opposes gay marriage, thinks feminism “does not give women the dignity they deserve”… but to the true believers in Tinker Bell, nothing as boring as evidence will change their mind. This is religion after all.

Tinker Bell II: Francis appoints an anti-gay bigot edition

Cardinal Fernando Sebastián has lots of nice things to say about gay people, like: “Homosexuality is a defective manner of expressing sexuality, because [sex] has a structure and a purpose, which is procreation. A homosexual who can’t achieve this is failing. Our bodies have many defects. I have high blood pressure.” Sebastián also said it is “possible to recover and become normal with the right treatment”.

The idea that homosexuality is treatable is a view that every mainstream psychological organisation rejects as being both scientifically inaccurate and harmful.

The Cardinal has been appointed by Pope Francis, a man who—if you believe his press—is a hippy-dippy queer-loving atheist-respecting reformer. As I’ve said before: Tinker Bell only exists if you continue to believe in her. Idiots seem willing to continue believing that Francis is a progressive in spite of the ghastly things he seems to be doing.

How gay adoption caused the Catholic Church to lose their shit completely and become utilitarians

I’ve noticed an interesting inconsistency recently over public moral reasoning over anti-discrimination laws. Every so often, religious groups will flare up over the requirement to not discriminate against gay and lesbian people. Under the previous government, Catholic adoption agencies decided to shut after they were not exempted from laws forbidding discrimination by adoption services towards same-sex couples seeking to adopt.

There have been incidents since with hoteliers and cake manufacturers and dating websites and so on, but let’s stick with the adoption agency for now.

When faced with a law that would require adoption services to not discriminate against same-sex couples, the Catholic Church seeked exemption on the basis that greater good would be provided to society by Catholic adoption services continuing even if they engaged in discrimination against same-sex couples. That is, the harm of discrimination against the same-sex couples is outweighed by the benefit of helping opposite-sex couples adopt.

What’s interesting about this is the moral theory behind it is purely utilitarian. If the government were to have granted an exception to the Church, the happiness of society would have increased: the closure of the adoption services would have reduced the societal good done by ensuring that children are adopted (albeit only by heterosexuals) and this is not outweighed by the good of reducing discrimination in society.

Despite my antipathy to religion and to the Catholic Church, as a good utilitarian, I ought to give that argument some consideration. (Of course, I wonder whether we would give similar credence to the Mormons before 1978 wishing to have an exemption from laws forbidding racial discrimination. Because, lest we forget, the Mormons only started believing black people were actually people in 1978.)

What I think about the merits of the utilitarian case that the Church made is irrelevant though. The astounding thing about it is that the Church—in order to protect their desire to discriminate against gay people—were willing to advance such a utilitarian argument.

The Church and utilitarianism do not go together. On topics like embryonic stem cell research, abortion and euthanasia, the Church loudly objects to utilitarian moral arguments. Indeed, utilitarianism is frequently decried by Catholics as one of the causes of a ghastly society like ours where the unborn are routinely aborted and the elderly forcibly euthanised etc. etc.1

Another point here: the Church is dedicated to the doctrine of double effect. The doctrine of double effect is used as a justification when some harm is done but with a noble end in mind. The theory goes that the harm is not intended even though it is perceived as an inevitable consequence of the action. Double effect reasoning is used most notably in end-of-life care. When you have someone at the end of their life, a doctor cannot euthanise that person, but they can prescribe them very strong pain reduction drugs that have as an inevitable side effect the shortening of their life. The doctrine of double effect says that so long as the intention is to reduce pain, the secondary consequence is acceptable.

But the Church seems unable to accept that governments might also avail themselves of the double effect principle. In passing equality legislation, the government’s action is morally good: it intends to reduce discrimination on the basis of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation etc.—which even the Catholic Church deems to be morally good (§2358 of the Catetchism says that with regards to gay people “Every sign of unjust discrimination should be avoided”). The secondary effect of passing the legislation is that organisations that do good work but which engage in discrimination (like Catholic adoption agencies that do not serve clients that are in a same-sex relationship) may face legal issues and/or choose to stop operating—that is foreseen but not intended. It seems strange that the Church would prefer to apply a utilitarian rule to the affairs of their adoption agencies than accept that their closure is an unfortunate secondary effect of an intended moral good.

When the Church—indeed the current Pope—says that they “love the sinner, hate the sin” when it comes to homosexuality, and point to §2358 of the Catechism and its call to accept gay peple with “respect, compassion, and sensitivity”,2 consider the case of the adoption services. The Church was willing to throw a fundamental piece of their moral theology—their non-utilitarianism—under the metaphorical bus to continue discriminating against gay people. As we saw with Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, when one is in a war, one is sometimes willing to throw away one’s stated—even sacred, axiomatic or foundational—moral principles. Despite the Catechism and the Pope’s call to the contrary, this is what we saw: the Catholic Church in Britain was so enraged by the demand that they obey the same anti-discrimination laws as the rest of society that they were willing to throw away one of their moral principles in the fight.

The horrifying spectre of Heather having two mummies managed to turn the Church into utilitarians. This should tell you how much stock the Church places in the Catechism’s call to avoiding unjust discrimination against gay people. Remember that next time Pope Francis mouths some widely-reported, pious PR horseshit about how the Church really loves gay people.

  1. This, of course, ignores that these days raw Benthamite utilitarianism has been tempered into a preference utilitarianism of someone like Peter Singer, where the forcible euthanasia of an unwilling patient would go directly against their stated preferences and thus be immoral and rightly criminal. Of course, dealing with this kind of modified utilitarianism would require application of both the Principle of Charity and some understanding of the complexities and varieties of utilitarian thought.

  2. Although how much “compassion” is shown in saying when they describe gay sex as “intrinsically disordered” is an exercise left for the reader.

Parsing the Pope's new remarks on gays

The Pope said something nice about gays, and Twitter is aflame with excitement.

Here’s what Frankie-boy had to say (excerpted from the above article):

If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well

The problem is not having this orientation. We must be brothers. The problem is lobbying by this orientation, or lobbies of greedy people, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the worse problem.

Let me translate Pope-speak into plain language.

Nothing has changed. The catechism, which I said “explains this very well”, still says this:

Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

But that’s kind of mean and I sort of realise I’m on the wrong side of history on this argument. So I’d like to be seen as less of a dick. I’m emphasising the very next passage of the Catechism (gays “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity”) and pretending that something has changed, even though in terms of the actual policy of the Church, it hasn’t.

I’m pretending it is about my judgment rather than about the actions of the Church in supporting political structures that discriminate against gay people. We’ll tolerate you poofters so long as you don’t actually do anything to make your lives better by lobbying for political change.

(Also, Freemasons! Be afraid!)

For some reason, people are cheering this, even though nothing substantive has actually changed. By their fruits you shall know them. If the Pope starts actually rewriting the Catechism or puts out a statement ex cathedra, perhaps then it is time to start paying attention. This is just feel-good PR fluff and people are lapping it up.