Look in my eyes, what do you see? The cult of personality.
It isn't like I hate the Pope, or anything of the sort. In fact, unlike most other Filipino Freethinkers, I actually outright like the guy. I just didn't think it was very smart to project what I think makes for a great Pope on a person who was still going to be irrevocably Catholic.
Was he going to approve of gay marriage? Of course not. Was he going to say contraception and family planning is the key to a good life? Dream on. However, it was good to know that for every single time he would reinforce these Catholic positions, he would talk about more pressing issues ten times first: corruption and opulence in lieu of sexual immorality. Compassion and understanding instead of denouncing contraception. It may just be me being optimistic, but that's the case of someone who's finding it in him to agree to disagree. Which, I realize, is sometimes the best way to settle things.
It's not going to happen, guys. The Catholic church will not sanction marriage equality, nor will they promote contraceptives as a way to manage a growing family. But you know what can be done? For them to not stand in the way of a secular society who wants it. Teach what you want to teach in church. That is your right. But to demand the government fall in line, lock and step with your values that are not necessarily shared by everyone else, even if the others are a minority? Then yes, we have a problem.
Notice that most of the time, when the Pope makes a statement that could potentially earn the ire of progressives, he makes it to the clergy? That makes a lot of sense to me. He emphasizes this for their benefit, but sees no purpose in doing the same in the general public. Some might say that's a cop-out for him to do. I say, on the other hand, that it's a good idea to do it that way.
I know your anger, I know your dreams. I've been everything you want to be.
It's high time we stopped projecting on the Pope, as progressives. This is no different from projecting on our leaders, be they PNoy or Obama, to do the things we want for us. It's nice if they could, but it does appear that a lot of the legwork still ultimately hinges upon our initiative, more than anything else. And when secular society has finally decided that the church is not to be listened to when it comes to family planning and who should be legally allowed to marry whom? Then they will be forced to re-examine themselves and ask themselves if these particular issues they have been holding onto for so long really matter in the grand scheme of things. Are they relevant, really? Or is the church simply risking irrelevance by turning a blind eye to these changes?
Is it really a deal-breaker to a Divine being if two dudes like each other enough to promise to live as one? Or two ladies? Is it really a horrific thing to consider that raising a child when the parents are ready is infinitely more responsible than the typical "lay and pray" method (and I don't mean the MMA thing.).
So no, I don't think that's his job. I do find that he needs to step up on being harsh on punishing members of the clergy who molest children, though, because while defrocking and laizing a priest as punishment may seem like a big deal to the Catholic church, the rest of the world hardly gives a damn, because what they are looking for is a way to send these assholes to prison. Not removing their priestly powers and privileges. Not house arrest. Prison. Where they certainly deserve to go if proven guilty.
It's also his job to tend to the poorest of the poor: a job that he has been doing fairly excellently, so hats off to him for that.
Ultimately, I like Pope Francis because he is willing to shelf an issue in favor of more important things. Sometimes, not fighting a battle is more important than trying to win it, and he has chosen his battles well, for the most part. Is this a calculated PR move? Most likely. That doesn't invalidate it, in my eyes, though.
If people hear less about condemning gay people and contraception and hear more about compassion for the poorest of the poor, then maybe we could actually be doing more positive things. If people focus on the more important issues the Catholic church has on its plate, then maybe these sticking points could gain traction in the secular world, where the Catholic church should, in theory, not dominate.
It isn't that progressives are trying to say that they know better, though admittedly, some could fall prey to that. It's simply an openness to the possible that there are valid options here that shouldn't be thrown away all for the sake of currying the favor of religion. I'm not here fighting for marriage equality because I don't think gay people can do it themselves. I'm not here advocating reproductive health because I think poor people shouldn't procreate and I find it my business to tell them what to do in their bedrooms. I advocate these things because it's the right thing to do. It isn't a special privilege to do the right thing. It's a categorical imperative.
I'm the cult of personality. Like Mussolini, and Kennedy.
And yes, we should heed the Pope when he reminds us that he shouldn't be worshiped. Because he really shouldn't. Nor should we worship the altar of SCIENCE! for that matter, as if it were a religion unto itself, either. It's simply about finding that sweet spot where we can all agree: we want people to be happier. We don't want anyone to get hurt. Isn't that where we should work towards, before anything else?
It's easy to fall into the cult of Pope Francis's personality. Regardless of his flaws, here's a man who genuinely means well. But it's also easy to just point at him and call him the devil. What isn't hard is to find that there is a nuanced tale in between, and that narrative is something I hope to find and follow.