Monday, October 5, 2015

Sorry About That, Mr. Pope

I try to be good about avoiding knee-jerk reactions to events in the news, especially those concerning subjects that I may be prejudiced about.  But I get carried away sometimes.  Like last week with Pope Francis and his meeting with Kim Davis.

When I read that the meeting had happened, I did a little looking around to make sure that the information was correct.  The Vatican itself confirmed that the "meeting" had indeed happened, and the report that he had offered her some words of encouragement seemed believable.  So there I went, condemning the entire church, as is my habit.  They've been working hard for millennia to earn our distrust, and I'm not one to deny them.

By now it seems that there is much more to this story than initially met the eye.

There's a nice little article by Charles P. Pierce in this Month's (on line) Esquire Magazine with the wonderful title, "The Papal Chase: WTF Edition."  There is considerable evidence, anecdotal and circumstantial as it may be, that the pope was set up by culture warriors and political enemies within the church itself, and no evidence that the pope had anything to do with setting up the meeting or that he ever had a clue who Kim Davis was.  Mr. Pierce makes a persuasive argument that Ms. Davis was brought in for an assembly line meet-and-greet and that the pope's "words of encouragement" were general and merely polite.

Those doing the setting up may have had a dual purpose for the trick, to boost Kim Davis as an anti-gay-marriage icon and to dim the enthusiasm of Americans for Pope Francis.  Mr. Pierce seems to have a favorite word, or family of words.  He got many variations of it into this rather brief article. They were the verb, "to ratfck;" the adjective, "ratfcked;" and one of the noun forms, "ratfckery."  If his own red-capped devils are out for him in this manner, one can only hope that the pope keeps his own ecclesiastic stiletto handy.

It's worth recalling that Pope Benedict is still alive, and worth recalling two additional things about him.  For one thing, he was ultra, ultra-conservative, which Pope Francis is not; and for another thing, he had a thin skin and certainly doesn't appreciate all of the attention and glowing press that Francis is getting.  It occurs to me now that Benedict's last name was Ratzinger, which could be the linguistic genesis of all of that ratfckery.

So I'm leaving in place all of the nasty things that I said about the church itself.  This evident back-room dealing and internecine warfare only make them look worse.  But I'm giving Pope Francis a pass on this one, there being little or no evidence that he did anything in particular wrong.

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