The Pope’s Smoking Gun

Papal MitreI have been touched by the passionate defenses of the Pope during his visit here, by sincere believers who desperately wanted not to see what was going on. If only Pope Francis respected his supporters enough to live up to the ideals they projected on him, which included insisting, against all evidence, that he was merely talking in broad, moral generalities to Congress rather than lobbying for progressive policies, like making illegal immigration legal.

He was, we were told, only showing us where “true North” was according to the Church. I guess he just forgot to bring up abortion, which the Church regards as murder (and Joe Biden too, when he’s not playing politics) as he was lecturing our legislators about “human rights.”

The second he returned home, the Pope threw gay couples under the Popemobile, stating that Kim Davis’s position as a government official refusing to obey the law was a “right.” Again, his defenders insisted that this was just an abstraction. Now we hear from Davis’s lawyers that she had a secret meeting with Pope Francis. Davis says that he hugged her, gave her a rosary, and told her to “stay strong.”

“That was a great encouragement. Just knowing that the pope is on track with what we’re doing, it kind of validates everything to have someone of that stature,” Davis said.

Naturally, those who can’t handle the truth will say she is lying. There is no evidence that Kim Davis is untruthful, and her lawyer would be facing discipline if they falsely reported what did not occur. This really happened.

Got that, Popophiles? While a guest in this country, while progressives were tripping all over their usually Christian-mocking selves to proclaim him as a moral exemplar for setting U.S. policy, while he was being honored by the President and treated with more deference by the news media than any foreign leader, Pope Francis was surreptitiously encouraging an anti-gay zealot to defy the U.S. Supreme Court and the rule of law, while withholding the human right to be married from gay Americans.

I have already pointed out that the Pope is a hypocrite and a coward. With this conduct, he showed that he is a sneak as well, and blatantly disrespectful of the laws of the nation in which he was an honored guest. This was a breach of manners, protocol and a betrayal of trust on a massive scale.

It will be interesting to see how many of those who twisted themselves into ethics Escher landscapes to spin the Pope’s words and conduct have the integrity to admit that he has proved Ethics Alarms right, and them wrong. My guess is “not many,” but I will be happy to be surprised.

61 thoughts on “The Pope’s Smoking Gun

  1. American presidents have met with dissidents in foreign countries before – including those charged with “crimes” by the regimes in those countries. Notably Reagan in Moscow in 1988.

    • Dissidents don’t address Congress, and dissidents are openly political, not disingenuously non-political. Nor is the Pope a dissident. American Presidents who meet with dissidents are doing so openly and as a political statement, as a political leader. When they do so, it is still poor guest behavior, and Obama, for one, refuses to do it.

      Otherwise, good comment.

      • I think he is more saying that the Pope meeting Kim Davis is like the President meeting someone like Solzenitzhyn when he visited the USSR. I hesitate to put KD in the same category with someone like a genuine advocate for human freedom like Solzenitzhyn. Now, I can see the Pope meeting with American prisoners as a gesture of the corporal acts of mercy, in keeping with the Christian idea that even the incarcerated have some kind of innate worth as people, but at least someone like JP2 would do it openly, just like Francis openly embraced a disfigured man the day of his inauguration (which in turn leads me to believe he knew that meeting with KD was going to produce bad photo-ops and hid it). It isn’t for the Pope to get involved in the justice systems of other nations, and it isn’t for him to give artificial legitimacy to open defiance of the law. JP2, Paul VI, and John XXIII never met with or gave artificial legitimacy to someone like a Philip Berrigan, who, for all his devotion to peace, was nothing more than a vandal and petty criminal. This is no different.

        • “It isn’t for the Pope to get involved in the justice systems of other nations”

          I would limit that to nations that actually have systems of justice that are reasonably classifiable as just.

            • Well, I would consider us a nation that has “a system of justice that is reasonably classifiable as just”.

              Steve-O made a blanket statement that he should keep his nose out of country’s systems of justice. I don’t think that universal is appropriate. I would have no issue with foreign leaders from advanced nations imploring 3rd world hell-holes and despotic regimes NOT to wantonly punish their citizens after kangaroo courts or other egregious systems of “law” like you see employed in some places.

              • It’s one thing to speak of concepts of justice. It’s another to tell other nations specifically what punishments they can impose or which laws they can enforce and how. The US Constitution contemplates capital punishment, as set forth in the due process clause. Some states have decided by democratic consensus not to impose it. It is a political question and it should be allowed to work itself out without a hypocrite in a white robe calling those who support it barbaric. What’s barbaric is murder for hate’s sake, or murder for hire, or the killing of emergency services people who are just doing their jobs (often capital punishment is imposed for killing a cop or corrections officer engaged in official duties, I’d like to see that extended to firemen and EMTs/paramedics to further protect those who have to enter dangerous situations unarmed). Anyone who acts like capital punishment is “ick” has has priorities wrong.

      • I may pass the test, but I’m a little miffed that the Pope didn’t. I want all religious leaders to say that no matter what country their members live in the official church position is that their members should obey the laws of that country, or work within the law to change them.
        I’ve been told (but I haven’t researched it, because I only care a little bit) that Kim Davis is OK with a marriage license being issued, just that she doesn’t want her name on it. If that’s true it seems like an easy call for the issuing agency to either change the regulations so her name doesn’t appear or for her to resign. I think both sides are being ridiculously stupid about a big nothing and I’m completely disgusted with her grandstanding. I almost gagged when I heard she came out of jail to the Rocky theme. She’s not a hero, but nor is she completely wrong.
        It seems reasonable to excuse her from having her name on the license. If that was offered and she rejected it she needs to admit that it’s more about the attention and the issue than her conscience and leave quietly.

        • This whole business of what the Pope said, and what he meant, and the situation with Kim Davis is like an archaeological dig through train wrecks on top of train wrecks. I wish Kim Davis would go away. There. I said it.

        • I agree, in part. But there is the possibility of having a truly ugly government (think dictators) — so I can see why a religious leader may stop short of it. The statement regarding the right to be a conscientious objector is good enough. She’s an elected official–that alone tells me she needs to use a bit wiser judgement. If her conscience deems it’s not a good idea to issue the licenses, she can step down or as you said, have someone sign.

          What I don’t get, and what is irritating me here is I don’t see the pope as being unethical or even being a hypocrite. He IS following his own teachings. He has no jurisdiction over civil marriages, they aren’t religious covenants inside the Catholic Church. So he’s silent on that issue. What I am finding wholly unethical about this situation is how Kim Davis is playing up her “visit” with him (and I somehow think it never really happened). She’s a media whore. The Vatican is sidestepping the entire thing, like they’re smelling dog poop and they don’t want to be embroiled in this woman’s media circus. Kim Davis is a nutcase.

  2. “There is no evidence that Kim Davis is untruthful, and her lawyer would be facing discipline if they falsely reported what did not occur. This really happened.”

    This is Liberty Counsel, remember? Had it been any other law firm, I’d say the odds of you being correct are so high that the chance of you being wrong is negligible.

    But it’s Liberty Counsel – who spend $4 on direct mails raising funds for every $1 spent on legal matters.

  3. The Pope can’t have it both ways, supporting the traditional stances the Vatican has taken and in addition, being “cool” and “progressive”. Why doesn’t he realize this?

      • I’m no catholic, but one of the go-to methods of ridiculing Catholics — the notion of “papal infallibility” — is kind of a dead horse. The pope ISN’T infallible and no catholic who knows church teaching will assert that he is…

        When the pope makes a defining statement on morals or faith, that is to say, further discusses doctrine that is to be held by all Catholics as “true”, then the Pope’s words are to be taken as Infallible.

        He doesn’t just walk along and say “I sure like vanilla ice cream” and suddenly it’s a matter of salvific importance that we all enjoy vanilla ice cream. No, before a pope speaks ex cathedra that is to say in an “infallible” way, it is after much study, much prayer, much consultation with OTHER church experts & theologians, then after careful document crafting to ensure no error enters into the new teaching and to ensure that no aspect of the new teach contradicts prior ex cathedra teachings or ecumenical councils.

        BUT, like I said, I’m no catholic, and all the Catholics are really saying is “the Pope is as fallible as you or I, but after he’s really really really really considered a topic and weighed all options and eliminated all the apparently wrong ones and has distilled a solution down to the correct one, he’s right.”

        Sort of like saying “No one is right all the time, but everyone is right some of the time”.

        • “He doesn’t just walk along and say “I sure like vanilla ice cream” and suddenly it’s a matter of salvific importance that we all enjoy vanilla ice cream.”

          Well, no. Not exactly. But if he drinks out of this glass, and you can get hold of the glass with some water still in it . . . .

        • [Reply to texagg04 Sept 30 at 4:01 pm]
          I was only speculating, in response to Wayne B. We all know the drill: If the Pope says something the left likes, he’s infallible. Leftist orthodoxy trumps all other orthodoxies – including other leftist orthodoxies as necessary, lest any leftist not be gotcha-proof.

      • No – I am not a Catholic and I am definitely not defending the Pope, but papal infallibility does not mean the Pope is never wrong. Papal infallibility only applies for things like the canonization of saints or other instances where it is specifically invoked, such as in 1950 where the Pope defined the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary.

  4. Jack,
    I don’t like the Pope either, but the day I accept the word of Kim Davis or whatever bottom-feeding, yet dedicated public servant she got to represent her is the day I eat my own head.

    I’m confused as to how something like this slipped under the radar?


  5. True enough, but I’m not all in with this, nor the way it was handled. A nation needs to have standards, and allowing individual’s consciences to become the paramount authority simply isn’t workable, especially when public duties are involved. It’s essentially saying that everyone must obey the law except when they would rather not. I remember the college hard-pacifist groups putting up flyers in which they said any member of the ROTC who decided to resign because he had a “crystallization of conscience” should be exempted from either paying back scholarship money or being put on active duty as an enlisted soldier. I also remember reading about activists performing acts of vandalism and asking the court to exempt them from punishment, because they were just following their consciences. I’m sorry, but a world in which contracts and laws can be broken simply on the grounds of conscience is a world of chaos.

    • Precisely, Steve. If your conscience will not allow you to perform the job, then do not take it. If the law changes after you take the job, such that you feel that you can no longer perform the job duties, you have an ethical responsibility to resign. I don’t think that is open to debate.

        • Don’t buy it. Going to jail is if you do not agree with a law, and aren’t charged with upholding it. Only choice if you are in a job effected by a court decision is to quit.

          • i ‘m not entirely convinced. I think there may be something ethically valid about taking a stance of “I will do/will not do X, and freely accept the penalties and consequences of that choice, should there be any.” That, combined with the little bit of wiggle room I’ll allow for the fact that the rules were changed on KD after accepting the position is all that keeps me from joining the hatefest against her. She’s still not an admirable person, though.

            • Agreed, she is not. But if the rules change, and you don’t like them for your job, then you are obligated to LEAVE the job before working to change the rules back to something you like. Going to jail makes you a martyr, and we all know where that leads.

  6. I hang my keyboard in shame. The Holy Father blew it on this one. I can’t for the life figure out why he would meet with her, other than to wave his finger at her and tell her to stop bringing scandal on Christianity for her stubbornness and cruelty to those whose lifestyle she condemns but, alas, I don’t think that is going to happen.

    As much as I am frustrated with this story, I am equally horrified that Kim Davis may have or is considering converting to Catholicism. Save us all!


  7. I had been hopeful that this one would be a net benefit to the world, and would usher in some internal change and growth. Religious leaders make general advice for people to be better, and leave out details, to the point where you just have to thank them mentally for pointless comments that only sound relevant. (Like thanking great-grandpa for their advice that would have worked fifty years ago)

    With so many issues that his church needs to address, he seems to have chosen… poorly. Encouraging individual people in Europe to help refugees, great. Saying there should be no limits to the influx is unrealistic. God has no limits, but humanity does and the cupboard is already bare from existing issues. Where’s his support for female catholics when they don’t agree with church edicts or want to be priests because of their consciences, or does this kind of back door politicking only apply to people not in his flock?

    Picking global warming as a major plank is an unneeded diversion from things of more immediate need. Advocating for refugees is immediate, especially with the Syrian refugees in Europe. Maybe he thinks global warming will warm up people and encourage young people to join the church, but that issue is too broad a movement and too diffuse to make the geriatric dogma any more attractive. But his church cannot survive in an interconnected world, where recruiting both members and priests depends on a whole that people are passionate about. American political catholics are not the only cafeteria people in this hoo-haw. There are too many things that are considered good that the church bans. That dissonance MUST be addressed in some way other than denial and diverting to some other approved issue like global warming.

    • I also think he, like the current president, lacks the bravery to meet difficult issues head-on, but glories in the adulation that goes with the position. He made at best an oblique reference to gay marriage when he addressed Congress, concealed the meeting with Kim Davis until he was safely back in Rome, and completely dodged the issues of abortion and the mistreatment of Christians by ISIS. He is quickly becoming the soft-issue pope, who likes to come out on issues that are not really that big or that divisive or that he knows has no power to really change, strut around, kiss a few people who will make a good photo-op, dispense some advice hat sounds good but can’t possibly work, and vanish.

  8. Liberals don’t love the Pope — Liberals believe that the Pope is more progressive in certain areas. His views on abortion and women’s issues generally were well known before this trip to the US.

    • Liberals are happy to have the moral boost of the Pope or other religious figures when they can get it, because in the end it’s about making sure the world knows they are RIGHT. To a lot of liberals the Pope is an apostle for peace and social justice, if only he’d ordain women, stop treating gays like they are diseased, and come on into the 21st century on that abortion thing. All the same, they are happy to have him talk about “good stewardship” (support burdensome environmental rules) a “consistent ethic of hope and life” (go soft on criminals), “welcome those in need” (open borders) and “the gospel of peace” (national non-action against threats), because they can throw this back at conservatives and say “see! see! the POPE says you’re wrong!”


    The Vatican claims ignorance, throws the ambassador under the bus.

    There are so many layers to this mess. Let us try to unsort them. Davis, who is not Catholic, probably should not have even gone. On the other hand, she was invited by some of the most powerful leaders in the world, so it was an unethical invitation that she could not reasonably refuse.

    The Popal Nuncio, the ambassador, simply should not have invited her, at least not without an explicit understanding between Davis and embassy that her situation would be addressed. Even so, it would reek of “beer summit”, where the worldwide leader of a billion Christians intervenes in the affairs of a single non-follower on another continent. There was simply no ethical reason for this meeting to have occurred.

    Further, if the Nucio invited Davis, without giving the Pope adequate preparation, that would be a resignation worthy. It places the Pope in a terrible position of potentially chastising an invited a guest who travel a hundred miles or so from home without warning to either party. It also would set up the whole church to look (more?) ignorant and inconsistent, should the Pope have truly had no idea with whom he was meeting.

    If the Pope knew to whom he was speaking, disagreed with her course of action, and did not deeply apologize for the invitation, encourage her to reconsider, and caution her that his public statements may or may not endorse her actions, then that would have been wimpy. If the Pope knew to whom he was speaking with, fundamentally agreed with her course of action, and demurred when asked point blank, that would be truly cowardly.

    Logic dictates that almost every possible scenario involved unethical decisions.

    What is worst of all is that the Davis incident is of little worldwide significance to the Catholic Church, yet considerable resources must be tied up to responsibly address the situation of their own making. It is no secret that the Church considers homosexual marriage to be a radioactive issue. Adequately addressing this issue within the medieval framework of Catholic law, theology, and discipline takes time. (Even the Supreme Court, when ruling that same-sex marriage must be recognized as a right, said that its ruling was only possible due to a decades long conversation that worked its way through the courts and society at large). Yet the choice to greet Davis without having adequately prepared, ensure that almost apology, even sincere one, will be rushed and have serious negative consequences.

    To create a level 1 apology, the Pope must acknowledge the great apparent hypocrisy and secrecy, acknowledge that deflecting on the plane was wrong, state that whatever private encouragement he gave Davis is not necessarily an endorsement, apologize to Davis for being made the subject of a Papal Statement (ordinarily reserved for great honors or infamies), apologize for the for the rightful and confusion on both sides, give of credibly promise that a full statement regarding the right of human conscience will come out, and apologize for the great resources expended to responsibly address the issue. Even then, it would remain to be seen what his views on conscientious objection truly entails.


    • Rich,

      You have concisely stated my thoughts on this whole debacle. Thanks. I can’t believe that the Pope walked or waded into this situation without knowing who this person was and what the issues were. If he did, then shame on him. If he didn’t, then shame on him. Either way, the Catholic Church looks bad, which is something it clearly does not need.


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