Thursday, 14 March 2013

His Popeliness

Spare me the moaning about how homophobic the new pope is, or his opposition to abortion. This is news? I have a different question: is he as obsessed with people’s private parts as the last two guys, or isn’t he?

It’s conceivable that a new papacy might turn its collective celestial gaze toward other issues rather than continue the relentless fixation on whether people are screwing too much. (It might also be prudent for these guys given their not-all-that-hidden and hypocritical lives—but I digress.) So let’s have a look at who this guy is and if there’s any room for optimism.

First of all, the Argentine Catholic hierarchy is a real horror: it’s one of the episcopates where any intrusion of actual Christianity was most successfully excluded for decades, culminating in its truly shameful performance during the slaughter of that country’s own citizens by the neonazi military in the 1970s and 80s. It suffered no consequences from this complicity with mass murder, which is entirely consistent for an institution that also did piss-all during the Nazi Holocaust, as exemplified by its canonized former pope, John Paul II, who spent the war years within a day’s drive of Auschwitz. There are virtually no records of the Polish church doing anything, ever, to report to the Vatican that 2 million citizens were being rounded up and slaughtered, and there is a lot of evidence that the Polish population, inspired by one of the more reactionary forms of Catholicism, basically thought it was a pretty cool idea. See the recently published Golden Harvest as well as the classic Hannah Arendt account, Eichmann in Jerusalem, for details—they’re beyond disturbing.

That said, Francis NĂºmero Uno is a Jesuit and apparently pretty uninterested in luxury and wealth, both potentially positive signs. Jesuits actually read books, and not just prayer books; the guy could turn out to be not a dope. He’s made some interesting gestures around HIV/AIDS, like washing the feet of patients—gimmicky, but I don’t see Mitt Romney doing it—and has even waffled on condom use.

The voluntary poverty thing sounds even better given the hugely corrupt ambiance around Vatican banking and other church wealth. If he’s for real on that score, he should get a food taster fast.

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