You better watch out; you better not cry. Better not pout;
I’m telling you why. The Pope is coming to town. He’s making a list and checking it twice. He’s gonna find out who’s naughty and nice. The Pope is coming to town.
He sees with whom you are sleeping. He knows when you’re using birth control. He knows if you’ve been bad or good so pray to the Virgin Mother for Christ sake!
O! You better watch out! You better not cry; better not pout, I’m telling you why. The Pope is coming to town! The Pope is coming to town! Yeah! One more time…
Never mind, that song sucks anyway. But the Pope is coming to Philadelphia and that just happens to be town where I live… near. It is a pretty big deal and they are pretty much shutting down the city for His Excellency.
When I was at the Religion Newswriters Association conference last month, I asked several informed Catholics and a Vatican Priest about this Pope and every one of them told me pretty much exactly the same thing. Pope Francis is no different than Pope Palpatine on any of the actual issues. The only difference is really just on the style and focus. Old Pope Palpatine focused on the evils of condoms, gays, and atheists while Pope Pious focuses on climate change, wealth inequality, and poverty. It’s a welcome change to be sure, but neither have focused on the child sexual abuses by Catholic priests and the Vatican cover-ups of those abuses.
Despite the fact that this Pope said he would punch people for mocking his faith, I think atheists can actually work with the Pope on at least a handful of issues. Most atheists understand the enormous importance of talking about and acting on the serious problem of global climate change. If this Pope is able to talk about this issue and get Catholics and other religious believers to take this issue seriously, then that’s a win. As an atheist, I am reasonably certain that there is no afterlife and that this planet is the only one we have available to us at this time. So we have to make sure that it can sustain human life. I know the Pope believes in a do-over in Heaven, but if he is willing to help with our problem here on Earth, that would be great.
As far as wealth inequality and poverty, I think the Pope is just talking the talk. If he really wanted to help deal with wealth inequality and poverty, he would give a lot of the Vatican’s vast fortune to the poor. As Sarah Silverman put, “Sell the Vatican; feed the world.” Eating lunch with a bunch of poor people makes for a great photo op, but it isn’t particularly helpful. Maybe the Pope can put the Church’s money where his mouth is and tell Congress that effective immediately Catholic Churches in the United States will no long seek or accept tax-exempt status and that he would suggest that the increased revenue be directed toward social programs for the poor. Oh, but it would just be easier to take some photos eating a meal with some poor people.
While I welcome this Pope’s change in focus, he still has a lot to answer for. A few words from him could literally save millions of lives. There is an AIDs epidemic in many third-world Catholic nations and if the Pope came out in support of condoms and comprehensive sex education, it would make a huge difference. All he has to do is say that using condoms isn’t a sin and you won’t burn in Hell for all eternity because you used protection. Forget the third-world, saying that would save lives in the City of Brotherly Love and all across the nation and the world.
The Pope wants to be friendlier toward gays but just telling Catholics to treat them better isn’t enough. Pope Francis has to tell the world that being gay isn’t a sin. It isn’t an abomination against God. Again, all he needs to do is say a few words and people’s lives would be measurable better. But he won’t say those words. He won’t tell women that they should have equal opportunity within the Church either. Personally, I couldn’t care less if there were women priests or not. In my opinion there shouldn’t be any priests at all. However, from an equality standpoint, the Pope should stand up for women and allow them to be Catholic priests. It’s a matter of principle.
Again, the elephant in the room is still the fact that countless numbers of Catholic priests have molested children and have been moved around all over the world in an effort to avoid prosecution. It is time for this Pope to acknowledge that and to hand over those priests to the local authorities where crimes or the accusation of crimes have occurred.
These are all things that the Pope can do this weekend that would make the world a much better place and save lives and livelihoods. But he won’t do any of them. He won’t say these words or do these simple actions. Despite the smile and talk about peace and love, he is still just like the last Pope.
So while I started this post with the lyrics from one song, I will end it with a different song entirely:
- Pew Research: Catholics Edition (skepticink.com)
- Churches Are A Close’n (skepticink.com)
- Pope invites atheists to desire peace; atheist responds (examiner.com)
- RNA Conference: Interviews With The Religious
- RNA Conference: Conversation With Opus Dei Vatican Priest