Catholic League president, Bill Donohue, who “demagogically conflates progressive and liberal dissent with hate,” met with Pope Francis yesterday following his prayer service with the US bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.
Also not shown on his public schedule, the pope visited the Little Sisters of the Poor,
the religious order that is involved in a contentious legal battle with the Obama administration over the order’s refusal to comply with an accommodation to provide contraceptive coverage to its employees …
One, it showed that the pope is behind the bishops in their battle with the Obama administration, support which the pontiff signaled in his talk at the White House earlier that day. [“Pointedly, Francis turned and looked at Obama as he delivered the line” about religious liberty.]
And two, it demonstrated how the pope likes to address contentious topics in a low-key, behind-the-scenes way.
Yesterday, Pope Francis canonized Fr. Junipero Serra, “who has a large degree of responsibility for the death of approximately 100,000 California Indians and the complete extermination of many Native tribes, cultures and languages.”
In his sermon, the pope claimed that Serra “protected and defended Native Americans from mistreatment and abuse.” Jeb Bush was in attendance.
Two days ago, three former US ambassadors to the Vatican appointed by President George W. Bush endorsed Jeb Bush for president. Among them was Mary Ann Glendon who was appointed by Pope Francis to his board of the Vatican bank. Glendon also served on the board of several theocon “think tanks” and is probably most famous for refusing an honor from Notre Dame University because the school awarded President Obama an honorary degree. Glendon is just one of the many plutocrats appointed by this pope to a Vatican position.
“I like Jeb Bush a lot,” the prelate of Wall Street, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, said. “I especially appreciate the priority he gives to education and immigration.”
The most immediate danger from this pope is to children around the world. Yesterday, Pope Francis praised his bishops for their response to the clergy sex abuse crisis. He noted their courage in facing “difficult moments in the recent history of the Church in this country without fear of self-criticism and at the cost of mortification and great sacrifice.”
By failing to commit to any action to protect children, the pope put all prelates on notice that they can continue to leave them exposed to dangerous pedophiles as the pope himself did with his ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Archbishop Josef Wesolowski. The US bishops can continue their lobbying to allow all American child sexual predators to avoid apprehension and prosecution.
“His remarks today confirm what we’ve long said and suspected: this pope, like his predecessors, is doing and will do little if anything to bring real reform to this continuing crisis,” Barbara Blaine, president of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said. “Those who care about kids must focus on secular authorities, not Church figures (however popular they may be).”
“The hurt and desolation that this pope of mercy has heaped on the survivors in this one miscalculated section of an address is jaw-droppingly stunning [and] a slap in the face to all the victims,” said Barbara Dorris, victims outreach director of the SNAP.
“This tin ear towards the victims of sexual abuse is a resounding rebuke to survivors and its damage is heavy,” wrote Kristine Ward of the National Survivor Advocates Coalition.
Members of SNAP are holding a vigil in New York to remember the hundreds of victims who have committed suicide. They decried how the pope’s “callous defense of bishops opens new wounds [and] provokes pain in hundreds.”
A broader danger is to our democracy. Most progressives have relied solely on the very corporate media they claim to distrust for their papal information with no skepticism.
When the conservative Jeb Bush made a statement about the pope’s encyclical on the environment similar to JFK’s famous “I believe in an America … where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope” – Bush said, “I don’t get my economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope” – it was reported as further proof of the pope’s liberal credentials.
Right-wing bloviators are dismissed as “clowns” by the liberal press except when they criticize Pope Francis. Then they are relevant commentators.
Progressives don’t remember that two and half years ago they scorned Church leaders for “banning contraception and sterilization worldwide, criminalizing abortion globally, endangering women workers’ contraceptive coverage under Obamacare, barring LBGTQ rights and marriage equality, halting stem cell research, overriding the right to a death with dignity [and] protecting the Church over her victims” – all positions embraced by Pope Francis.
If those who consider themselves to be sophisticated and knowledgeable accept without question the mainstream media’s carefully constructed image of Pope Francis and have lost their historical memory, what can we expect of the general electorate in future elections?
(Betty Clermont is author of The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America (Clarity Press, 2009))
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