Not That It Matters

But the Pope seems to think a lot like I do.  He doesn’t like hypocrisy, for one — and he doesn’t seem to think atheists are all that bad, either, at least as long as they try to do good.

“There are those who say ‘I am very Catholic, I always go to Mass, I belong to this and that association’… [but] my life is not Christian…’

“There are many Catholics who are like this and they cause scandal,” he said. “How many times have we all heard people say ‘if that person is a Catholic, it is better to be an atheist’.”

“‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

Of course some excuse has already been concocted to ignore what he says (probably, in essence, taking the form of “because I don’t like it”).

Never mind that this absolutely, unequivocally, goes against Catholic doctrine.  I mean, he IS the Pope.

Of course, a lot of people have spilled a lot of virtual ink trying to find convoluted intellectual ways around that doctrine — especially with OMG THIS POPE.  Finally here’s a pope who sounds more like Jesus himself than any pope of my lifetime, and HOLY SHIT WE CAN’T HAVE THAT.

It would be funny if it weren’t sad.

Just google, “Catholics obey Pope” and you’ll find more against the idea than in favor of it on the first few pages of results.  Most of it is wordy, obfuscating, and difficult to read or decipher.  Sometimes you can’t even tell which side someone is on right away.

It’s always been my conviction that the more complicated your reasoning has to be to defend your position, the more likely it is that it’s faulty.  Going with the simple version usually gets you to a healthier, more honest position — even if it’s one you find unpalatable.

In this case, he’s the Pope, so that’s that.

Or it should be, if you’re honest.

And who is to say that god didn’t send this pope specifically at this time because he has a message that you need to hear?

“They complain,” Francis said, “If he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good.” He explained that Jesus corrected them, “Do not hinder him, he says, let him do good.”

The disciples, Pope Francis explained, “were a little intolerant,” closed off by the idea of possessing the truth, convinced that “those who do not have the truth, cannot do good.”

I know where my siblings learned that they can ignore the teachings of the Church when convenient.  That pesky detail never mattered to Mom, either.  Somehow she was able to square a solid belief in fortune tellers and astrology with her brand of Catholicism.

I didn’t think you were supposed to have other gods, according to that very first commandment.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to ‘unveil’ the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2116

Mom also routinely claimed she had “had a feeling” about some occurrence or other, although this never quite extended to being able to figure things out ahead of time.

“God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints. Still, a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2115

How many times did I hear the story about the fortune teller at the fair who told a teen-aged Mom that she would give up her supposed piano playing career, and when asked for more info the woman said, “Cross my palm with silver and I’ll tell you.”  But she and her sister didn’t have any more money that day, so the mysteries of the future remained unrevealed.

This poppycock stayed with my mother the rest of her life.  My guess is that it resonated with her feelings that somehow she had been cheated out of happiness or success — even if it was by her own life decisions.

She told this story to show how much she had given up, to induce guilt, to be a martyr, to get sympathy — as narcissists do.

What kind of a mom tells her kids a story like this, over and over?  Reminding them about how much she had given up and the implied regrets she had about it?  A selfish, unhappy mom.

Because it goes without saying that she didn’t wind it up with a big hug and something like, “But I have you instead and I love you, and that’s worth more than any stage career.”

Of course, her life decisions were mostly made with regard for Church doctrine:  keep having kids even if it (almost) kills you, don’t get divorced no matter how unhappy you are — because god will provide, he never sends you more than you can handle — well, that worked out great, didn’t it?

If “putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future” is so dependable, how come my mom had to have electroconvulsive therapy?  Because they don’t do that until things get really, REALLY BAD.

How come my sister became suicidal?

Where was god for them then?  How come he wasn’t helping, like all the promises said he would if you did what you were supposed to?

To which the answer given is usually some form of “it’s part of his mysterious plan.”  Completely contradicting all those previous promises is just part of the mysterious plan, I guess.  What a nasty trick to play.

I’ll raise a glass to Francis, but I’ll stick with atheism, because at least it’s never lied to me.