Just last week, Pope Francis said, ‘One cannot insult other people’s faith.’
I agree that it is not nice to do so, and that so long as no one is getting hurt then there is no good reason to do so. But people are getting hurt.
Pope Francis is the head of an organised religion that decries women as evil, or at least inferior, and rants with terrified wails about erosion of ‘traditional’ marriage. He uses language like ‘disfigure God’s plan for creation’.
There is a small minority of the world’s population who have a number of shared beliefs. They believe that men and women should be treated equally, and indeed that people of all genders – or lack thereof – should be treated equally. They believe that if two or more people love each other and wish to get married, then nothing else matters. Of course, these are ideals and there will inevitably be special cases that people will argue over, but the core beliefs are nonetheless valid.
Let us, here, call this misguided minority, this quasi-religion, ‘the Fools’.
Ignoring the Catholic Church’s long history of abuses, and imagining, for the sake of argument, that the Church has got its house in order, what gives Pope Francis the right and impunity to insult the Fools’ faith?
Are we to understand that Pope Francis has a direct line to God? That God has basically said, ‘Francis, those Fools will disfigure my plans for creation if you don’t get out there and put a stop to it,’ which would imply, of course, that God’s plan for creation includes getting Pope Francis to rant about the Fools – in which case I would really have to question the intelligence of His design. It is difficult, if not impossible, to have faith in a God who integrates child prostitution into His design but regards loving unions as ‘disfiguring’.
At this point I feel I should state that I believe in God. Sort of. But God, for me, is vast, the size of the universe, spanning time from Beginning to End… A baffling expression of the soul of all existence that the human mind cannot even begin to comprehend. God is certainly not some anthropomorphic entity that sits in judgement, tutting over the height of a woman’s heels or the length of a man’s beard.
No, Pope Francis does not have a direct line to God. He is the human tasked with divining God’s wishes based on hundreds of years of accumulated teachings and writings, and based on his own human heart. The correctness of those teachings and writings cannot be established; one must choose to believe in them. And the correctness of one’s personal beliefs… well, I can listen to my heart too, Fool that I am.
The right to insult the Fools is a self-given right, whereas the right to be a Fool… is divine.