I very much imagine Pope Francis is going to go down in history either as a fringe figure or a turning point for the Catholic Church. While this pope still has many socially conservatives positions — he’s very pro-life and strongly defended Kim Davis — the amount of liberal positions held by an over eighty-year-old Catholic is unbelievable. He is not a big fan of free market capitalism (which is not uncommon for Catholic leaders, but still quite a bit shocking for Americans who view Catholicism as just American Conservativism), he has said that atheists can go to heaven, and he’s very pro-gay.
Mind you, not all the positions liberals went crazy over were all that massive. Pope Francis has endorsed evolution and the big bang model, however Catholics have never rejected either of those ideas (they found denying science didn’t go all that well when they tried it last time). As mentioned above, while his criticism of capitalism might also be impressive to an American audience, it is not uncommon for Catholic leaders to be skeptical of the free market.
Most recently, Francis has gotten on the map for saying in an interview that he supported same-sex Civil Unions. As quoted from Associated Press:
Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God. You can’t kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this. What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.
This statement received a large amount of backlash from the few remaining strains of the religious right. Of course, Civil Unions are basically an existing legal relationship, and the only major difference between it and marriage are what it’s called, from a legal standpoint. However, that did not stop some from trying to either dilute or condemn the Pope’s statement, which is much more pro-gay than anyone else in the history of his role.
The Archbishop of San Francisco said in a statement:
I would add that a civil union of this type (one which is not equated to marriage) should be as inclusive as possible, and not be restricted to two people of the same sex in a presumed sexual relationship. There is no reason, for example, why a brother and a sister, both of whom are unmarried and support each other, should not have access to these kinds of benefits.
Of course, Archbishop Cordileone has long been a critic of marriage equality. In 2008, he raised over $1 million in favor of the failed Proposition Eight — working for Mormons before Billy Graham took them off his church’s list of cults, how progressive.
However, I find the fact that this Pope has any different positions from the last one — or that he had any different positions from the one before him, and so on — to be kind of odd. Every Pope is trained to lead the same religion, preach the same book, and yet none of them can actually figure out what it says.
This is the thing that I have always found funny about Christianity, they demand I worship a being with no evidence of its existence (although of which the literature around him is still quite impressive) when they can’t even figure out what it says themselves. When an Atheist asks the vast majority of Christians why evil exists, the response is that we have free will — to which Calvinists respond “we have free will?” I’ve seen articles from Christian populists arguing we should close all businesses on Sunday — basically making it a worship day in everything except name, which Seventh Day Adventists believe would be the start of the end times. And then there are the Mormons — but they’re only a branch of Christianity when Christians need to vote for Romney.
Personally, I think it says something when the most devoutly religious candidate for President in 2020 was Pete Buttigieg — an openly gay man with socialist leanings. As well known social conservatives Pat Buchanan put in back in 2019:
Yet, Mayor Pete’s assertion — that God made him gay, and God intended that he live his life this way, and that this life is moral and good — is another milestone on the road to a new America. For what Buttigieg is saying is that either God changes his moral law to conform to the changing behavior of mankind or that, for 2,000 years, Christian preaching and practice toward homosexuals has been bigoted, injurious and morally indefensible. If Pete is right, since the time of Christ, Christians have ostracized and persecuted gays simply for being and behaving as God intended. And if that is true, what is the defense of Christianity?
For once, Buchanan is right when he says if Buttigieg being gay is “just what God intended” then it would be really bad news for the public trust of Christianity. Imagine that, people studying the same book, a book they are told is the source of all wisdom, for two thousand years, and only just now they not only find out they were wrong, but need to do a complete one-eighty in order to actually do what they always claimed they did.
Personality, as an atheist I have no dog in this fight (in fact, as a bisexual, I prefer the Pope’s new position), however, the fact that he can change the message so radically proves that the men of this position are not as on top as they’d like you to think.