The election of a new pope — Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, who took the name Pope Francis — was greeted warmly by Middle Tennessee Catholics.
Here in Nashville, students at Saint Cecilia Academy and Overbrook School gathered to show their support, singing and praying for the new pope. According to Saint Cecilia Principal Sister Anne Catherine, “The rally for the pope is an international initiative we heard of over the weekend. It began with some young people in Denver that said they wanted to have rallies in major cities around the U.S. and the world, celebrating the new pope and also celebrating the common love for the Catholic Church.”
All around the world, the new pope is being praised for his compassion for the poor. Now, I hate to rain on everyone’s parade, but ...
What about poor people who are gay? Cardinal Bergoglio is a theological conservative who supported the Roman Catholic Church’s hard-line stance against gay marriage. Even worse, he led a crusade against gay marriage, calling it “God’s war” against a “plan of the devil.”
What about poverty-stricken girls and women who get pregnant, but can’t afford to bring more hungry mouths into the world? Cardinal Bergoglio also supported his church’s hardline stances against contraception and abortion.
What about poor women who want to become priests? Cardinal Bergoglio also opposed the ordination of women.
In 2001, Cardinal Bergoglio washed and kissed the feet of 12 AIDS patients. But according to Maria Rachid, the secretary of the National Equality Bureau of Buenos Aires, he opposed the distribution of condoms. Is it “compassion” for the poor to deny them access to condoms, then wash and kiss their feet when it’s too late and they are deathly ill?
Cardinal Bergoglio clashed with the Argentine government, particularly former President Néstor Kirchner and his widow and successor, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, on issues such as gay marriage and the adoption of children by gay couples. Mrs. Kirchner described his beliefs as being those of “medieval times and the Inquisition.”
I think the Divine Oscar Wilde was probably correct when he said that the only sin is stupidity. Stupidity can and does kill. While Pope Francis may have compassion for the poor, his ludicrous Dark Age ideas are going to cause terrible suffering and many premature deaths among the world’s poorest people — unfortunately, the ones most likely to listen to him. To cause the premature death of an innocent person is the definition of murder. To cause the premature deaths of many innocent people is serial murder. To mislead large numbers of innocent children into believing things that are not true — such as it being a “sin” to use condoms — will be a death sentence for many of them.
The Roman Catholic Church finally had to come to terms with the serial pedophiles in its midst. But when will it finally come to terms with the serial murderers in its midst — or at the very least, accomplices to serial murder — its popes?
Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.