The blatant dishonesty of Pope Francis posing as an apolitical moral authority while engaging in outright political advocacy before the U.S. Congress, as he accepted accolades from manipulative partisans who have no interest in religion but who nonetheless were delighted to exploit his influence for their own purposes, was nauseating. Nearly as nauseating was the furious attempts by Catholics as well as these Pope fans-of-convenience to spin his comments and his conduct in support of Kim Davis, and by extension, her rejection of gay Americans and the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.
After several days of stonewalling, the Vatican decided on a strategy that should be familiar to anyone who follows U.S. politics: make a lesser official the scapegoat. The difference, of course, is that because this is the Pope, we are supposed to accept such standard duck-and-cover strategies as (heh) the gospel truth. I was preparing to write a post about the furious spinning going on to excuse the Pope’s inexcusable conduct when the Vatican spoke up, and Rich in Ct did an excellent job analyzing the ethics carnage.
Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, The Pope’s Smoking Gun. I’ll be back at the end:
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 Papal Nuncio, the ambassador [Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò], 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 Nuncio invited Davis, without giving the Pope adequate preparation, that would be 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 rightful confusion on both sides, give a credible 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.
I’m back. Ugh is right. Before the Vatican’s PR repair work, I was already wallowing in ethics ugh dealing with the whiplash inducing U-turns by progressives who suddenly embraced the Pope they didn’t believe is as the decisive authority on climate change, about which he knows little, and illegal immigration, about which he is irresponsible and a meddler. Informed that the Pope was officially endorsing the actions of a gay marriage foe, those who had been praising his moral authority when it backed their partisan agendas suddenly remembered that the Pope is Catholic. “Did we expect him to go to the Sunday Matinee of Hedwig?” a Facebook hypocrite joked. Cute. If Francis is so wise and wonderful, his opinion on gays has exactly as much credibility as his belief that the U.S. should open its borders. Take your pick, my gay progressive friends, but you cannot have it both ways. Another insult to our collective intelligence was delivered today by Washington Post film reviewer Ann Hornaday, who concluded her review of “The Martian” by writing, ” [A]t a time when … even the Pope can’t win over global warming skeptics, the problem-solving valorized in “The Martian” provides a simultaneously stirring and spirited example of how cool science can be.” Even the Pope? EVEN the Pope? I don’t believe what the Pope claims to believe about himself, and I’m a science denier for not accepting his word as final on climate change? Tell you what, Ann: “I’ll accept the Pope’s wisdom on illegal immigration being good for the soul if you agree that if he’s the authority on climate change, he’s got to be right about gay marriage, especially since that topic is a lot closer to his official areas of expertise.
While I am clearing out my Pope file, and the less I have to pay attention to the man after this fiasco, the happier I’ll be, I might as well mention this, a specious defense of the Pope’s Kim Davis support by James Martin, S.J, a Jesuit blogging priest. I read smart, rational Catholics who I respect praise this weak effort as persuasive, which once again shows how, like all bias, confirmation bias leaches IQ points. The priest’s “seven things to keep in mind” were rationalizations or worse:
1. “Pope Francis met with many individuals.” Yes, well he didn’t meet with anyone he didn’t choose to. Nothing good could come from enhancing Davis’s prestige, unless the Pope felt that her cause deserved enhancing.
2. “Such meetings are arranged in several ways.” Are we seriously supposed to believe that the Pope has no veto power over who he meets with? If he was unaware of Davis, why was he so obviously referring to her episode in the exchange with the ABC reporter?
3. “It’s hard to know how much the Pope Francis knew about each individual who was introduced to him during his long trip to the United States.” No, it’s not. Ask him. The Vatican, even while spinning, hasn’t answered this question. In its statement, it said that the Pope Francis’s “brief” meeting with Kim Davis “should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects.” How does the Vatican know the “particular and complex aspects?” It it’s so complex, how was the Pope briefed sufficiently in the supposedly short meeting? If he wasn’t briefed, why did he allow himself to be involved?
4. “His words to her, “Be strong,” and his gift of a rosary seem to be the kind of thing the pope might do for anyone presented to him.” He is the Pope, he needs to use his prestige and influence responsibly, and saying “Be Strong” to Kim Davis was obviously going to be taken by the media and the public as approval of her stance. If he met with Pamela Geller and said “Be Strong!” would that be interpreted as benign? How about Cliven Bundy?
5. “For those wondering what all of this means, it’s probably best not to interpret a meeting that the Vatican will not speak about, and also to be careful about swallowing wholesale the interpretation of those who would use this meeting to support their own agenda. “Uh-uh, he can’t claim the Pope gets to play by different rules than others who stick their noses into political issues. If the Vatican won’t explain, then others can and should make their own judgments. The implication that Davis can’t be believed because of her agenda is risible. The Pope also has an agenda, and he chose to advance it by meeting with Davis. After the Vatican’s dubious tap-dance, I view Kim Davis as the more credible of the two.
6. “It’s ill advised to use a private visit with the pope to make political point.” Why? It worked. She’s not a Catholic, and everyone else was using the Pope to make political points. It may be wrong to do this, but it isn’t “ill-advised.” It is ill-advised, however, for the ope to use a private visit to undermine the laws of the United States and further the cause of withholding basic rights from gay couples.
7. “Most of all, despite what Ms. Davis said, a meeting with the pope does not “kind of validate everything.” This excuse is hypocrisy beyond belief. The Pope allowed himself to be used by political advocates of climate change legislation and illegal immigration to validate their positions before Congress and to the American public, but Kim Davis cannot claim the same support.