Pope Francis


Official Greeter
Staff member
This is a spin-off from Insert slew of expletives! It's not quite a fit for "Spirituality *and* Polyamory," and although rather bloggish still not directly related to poly, so I am putting it here.

To wit, I was sitting on something until after Christmas was over, a handful of quotes by Pope Francis that should stir up trouble amongst my old Utah friends. The quotes were burning a hole in my text files, so I sent them out today.

Said friends and I were all raised Mormon (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), in the sleepy farmlands (sleepy and farmlands no longer) north of BYU, so Catholic matters are technically of secondary concern to us. However, many of us have strayed from the strait-and-narrow Latter-day Saint path and so, non-LDS matters are of greater concern than they might have been.

In hopes of protecting the privacy of non-Polyamory.com persons (i.e. the whole gang except myself), I'll codify their names and summarize their emails in my own words.

It begins with the following:


From: kdt26417
To: the Gang (7 guys)
Sent: Thursday, December 26, 2013
Subject: Pope Francis

It would appear that Pope Francis is something of a flaming liberal ...

"The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! 'Father, the atheists?' Even the atheists. Everyone! ... We must meet one another doing good. 'But I don't believe, Father, I am an atheist!' But do good: we will meet one another there."
-- Pope Francis, #13 @ http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/12/11/pope-francis-quotes/

"When we talk about the environment, about creation, my thoughts turn to the first pages of the Bible, the Book of Genesis, which states that God placed man and woman on earth to cultivate and care for it. And the question comes to my mind: What does cultivating and caring for the earth mean? Are we truly cultivating and caring for creation? or are we exploiting and neglecting it?"
-- Pope Francis, #15 @ http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/12/11/pope-francis-quotes/ (June 2013)

"Fighting poverty, both material and spiritual, building peace and constructing bridges: these, as it were, are the reference points for a journey that I want to invite each of the countries here represented to take up. But it is a difficult journey, if we do not learn to grow in love for this world of ours. Here too, it helps me to think of the name of Francis, who teaches us profound respect for the whole of creation and the protection of our environment, which all too often, instead of using for the good, we exploit greedily, to one another's detriment."
-- Pope Francis, #16 @ http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/12/11/pope-francis-quotes/ (March 2013)

"This is happening today. If investments in banks fall, it is a tragedy and people say, 'What are we going to do?' but if people die of hunger, have nothing to eat or suffer from poor health, that's nothing. This is our crisis today. A Church that is poor and for the poor has to fight this mentality."
-- Pope Francis, #18 @ http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/12/11/pope-francis-quotes/

"If a person is gay and seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge him? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says they should not be marginalized because of this (orientation) but that they must be integrated into society. The problem is not having this orientation. We must be brothers."
-- Pope Francis, #10 @ http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/12/11/pope-francis-quotes/ (July 2013)

Your thoughts? Anyone ... anyone ...
While stirring up trouble here, there, and whereabouts,


From: Astronomer
To: kdt26417
Cc: the Rest of the Gang
Sent: Thursday, December 26, 2013

[In kdt26417's words:] Astronomer wondered what a Pope should do, considering the Pope is faced with a rather flawed Bible and primitive traditions, which have promoted the following:

  • genocide,
  • human sacrifice,
  • incest,
  • execution for innocent things like
    • breaking the Sabbath,
    • homosexuality,
    • non-Hebrew membership,
    • etc.
Yet in spite of it all, a Pope ought to lead the world in a better direction than all of that stuff.

So what role should the Pope play?

Pope Astronomer would draw up a list of great world evils, such as:

  • child abuse,
  • sexual abuse,
  • physical abuse,
  • murder,
  • torture,
  • etc.
He would turn away from the Bible, or at least change a lot of it. Then he'd put on the trappings of his office, so as to gain credibility in the eyes of the world, then orate as Pope Frances is already doing.

So how can a Pope make the most of his office? Gender orientation should be one of his least concerns.

[continued below]
Pope Francis (continued)

[continued from above]

From: kdt26417
To: Astronomer
Cc: the Rest of the Gang
Sent: Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hmmm, what would I do if I were the Pope. That, then, is perhaps our new topic? It would certainly be a challenging topic.

Technically, I guess the Pope can do darn near whatever he wants. He is, after all, the Pope, amirite? but how to maximize the effectiveness of his office in bringing about positive social change, that is the question.

The truth is, Pope Francis is probably a lot more limited in what he can do than he'd like to be. If he goes too far in eschewing traditions such as the Bible, he'll incite the wrath of too many Catholics (and even of people of other faiths). All that would accomplish is a bunch of contention. He'd probably rather lead humanity bit by bit in the right direction as the majority becomes ready and willing to hear a new message.

I'd probably start with a general statement something like, "We accept the Bible as an imperfect book as it has passed through the hands of many mortal scholars." I wouldn't even try to change (or subtract from) the Bible at first. I'd just leave that little gem of wisdom for the world to chew on for awhile. Later, if I was still around and a considerable number of people seemed ready to accept some specific changes, I might start issuing general advice to take certain specific verses with a grain of salt. If I really got lucky I might live long enough for people to accept a few physical edits to the most egregious verses.

Pope Francis seems to have a specifically Democratic/Left-Wing agenda. He isn't as concerned about which specific actions of humanity are the most grevious, as he is steering the Church away from a generally Republican/Right-Wing mindset. Thus, if it's a cause that the Democratic Party has adopted, you'll probably find Pope Francis adopting it too. Based on the website where I got those quotes, he seems to be especially intent on opposing corporations, consumerism, and the free market system, calling to replace it with considerable government intervention and control over charity and the marketplace. He seems to blame the lion's share of the world's poverty on the "natural marriage" of greed and capitalism.

I find economic matters to be too complicated to paint that much in black and white terms, and it's very possible that the marketplace needs some governmental controls but not too many. I'm also concerned about the environment but not to the point, for example, where I'd condemn all oil drilling, or where I'd cry out for all nuclear plants to be shut down. Instead, I am more pleased with the Pope's positions on the following matters (these are just the ones I'm aware of -- as I checked Wikipedia -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Francis -- to improve my knowledge):

  • more emphasis on tenderness, mercy and compassion;
  • more emphasis on helping the poor;
  • acceptance of homosexuals;
  • acceptance of atheists;
  • acceptance of non-Catholics in general;
  • promoting interfaith dialogue;
  • more equal rights for women.
Matters I wish he'd take a stronger stance on:

  • opposition against physical abuse;
  • opposition against the use of torture;
  • opposition against the overuse of prisons;
  • opposition against the sexual abuse of children by priests;
  • promotion of the idea of ordaining women to the priesthood;
  • promotion of the idea of re-interpreting/revising the Bible;
  • promotion of the idea that homosexuality per se isn't a sin;
  • promotion of same-sex marriage.
While admitting that abortion is as complex a matter as the economy, I'll note that "Pope Francis, while affirming the present Church teachings, has stated that Catholics have concentrated officiously on condemning abortion ..." In a word, Francis opposes abortion but not as vigorously as his predecessors. I should also note that while he supports equal rights for women more than prior Popes, he has no known plans for the Church to ordain female priests.

As Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, he said: "Dialogue is born from an attitude of respect for the other person, from a conviction that the other person has something good to say. It assumes that there is room in the heart for the person's point of view, opinion, and proposal. To dialogue entails a cordial reception, not a prior condemnation. In order to dialogue it is necessary to know how to lower the defenses, open the doors of the house, and offer human warmth."

As Pope he said: "We also sense our closeness to all those men and women who, although not identifying themselves as followers of any religious tradition, are nonetheless searching for truth, goodness and beauty, the truth, goodness and beauty of God. They are our valued allies in the commitment to defending human dignity, in building a peaceful coexistence between peoples and in safeguarding and caring for creation."

I'm sorry to say that he's opposed to same-sex marriage. He seems to have called for civil unions as a substitute. His views on homosexuality differ enough from those of former Popes that "the American LGBT magazine 'The Advocate' named Pope Francis their Person of the Year for 2013."

As a bonus Pope Francis is also a plain-dressing Pope, eschews the relatively lavish quarters that former Popes have used, and is the first Jesuit to become Pope (if I understand correctly). He seems to be a remarkably humble man and has spoken out against the Church's obsessing over bureaucratic/dogmatic details.

Hypotheticals about what I'd do as Pope aside, the reality is that becoming a Pope is a highly involved and political process. In light of that, I think we're quite lucky to have the Pope that we now have. I'm encouraged by his relatively good health and I hope he'll be around to "stir up trouble in the Church and worldwide" for a long time.

Even a dedicated Latter-day Saint should be concerned about who the Pope is because the Pope influences so much of the mindset of the world at large. It's because of Pope Francis' acceptance of people of other faiths, for example, that the LDS church will probably enjoy an increased percentage of convert baptisms going forward. On the other hand, some of his liberal views may prove to be an obstacle to the conservative social causes that the LDS church champions.

Ultimately, it should be a concern of Latter-day Saints that the Pope use his office according to the dictates of the Holy Spirit, just as one would hope that a doctor, politician, or anyone else for that matter (but especially anyone with much power and responsibility) would act in accordance to the dictates of the Spirit. As an atheist and "Science worshipper," I hope that whoever the Pope is will carefully act in good conscience at all times.

I'll be thinking more about "what I'd do as Pope" as our discussion continues.
Kevin T.


Thus and so is the email conversation so far.

One of my old friends is a faithful and very conservative Latter-day Saint, and I am of particular hope that he'll be successfully prodded into joining in on the conversation. I know he would provide a contrasting point of view.

So, what do you fellow members here on Polyamory.com think of all this?

Kevin T.
Ha! The coincidences. I would say that you are far more courageous than I am. I was raised by one LDS parent, in a similar region of the country. We have decided that discussion of religion and politics is essentially off the table.

I will respond to this piece first. "Pope Francis seems to have a specifically Democratic/Left-Wing agenda. He isn't as concerned about which specific actions of humanity are the most grevious, as he is steering the Church away from a generally Republican/Right-Wing mindset."

What I would say is that we in the west may perceive it this way, but the notion that the Pope is somehow filtering his cognitions and informing his world-view through the American political system seems a bit...off. I don't see it as political as much as trying to adhere to a philosophy that seems to have been in existence through much of his time as a cardinal too - and that's just serving the poor. We just like to call that "socialism" in this country and label it as somehow unpatriotic. So far, he seems a breath of fresh air. Although...it won't have me running to church any time soon.
I agree that he's basically continuing the same message that he preached as a cardinal. But as Pope, I'm guessing he's a bit more conscious of the perception United States conservatives may have of his message. Doesn't mean he's going to change the message, just means he's aware that it has more far-reaching effects than it ever did.

I had to word my emails carefully so as to avoid giving offense to the conservative member/s of that group. I'm pretty pleased with the totality of Francis' message though, and agree that he's an unprecedented breath of fresh air.

Interesting that one of your parents was/is LDS. That always makes religion a hot-button topic.

Will continue to post here if/as new messages/emails trickle in.

Regards always,
Kevin T.
I saw a demographic assessment of Catholicism worldwide recently and from the looks of the gaps in membership, he is trying to reach out to young people who are the most disengaged segment of the demographic. They are joining in lower numbers and are not attending church. Given that, he has to have a more open philosophy.

I'm glad that your efforts at dialogue have remained cordial. It sounds like an interesting conversation - worthy of 3D. It's too bad you can't get together face-to-face with your group of friends and discuss it. over...not coffee. (We do lemonade at family gatherings.) ;)
Heh, I know at least one person (in addition to myself) who'd demand to have some kind of beer or hard liquor handy.

Yeah, without a cordial approach, the gang'd probably get disgusted and walk off. By polishing my performance, there's a better chance that they'll take it as a worthy challenge.

Which reminds me, I didn't just intend to make it cordial, I also wanted to spotlight the relatively "Democratic" bent that Francis seems to have, in hopes of getting the dander up of the one conservative person. Everyone can agree that we ought to help the poor, but not everyone will agree about how that should be accomplished.

Should be an interesting conversation if my friends can find the time to post some more responses. (And even if they don't, the responses on Polyamory.com help the conversation along, in my mind.)

Interesting that the Pope is (I'm sure) aware of the dwindling interest in the Church with the passing of generations. Brother-Husband (in the V I'm in) was raised Catholic but is no longer interested in following that path. He and Hinge Lady were very active in the Lutheran church for many years but have become disillusioned with that as well. And I have transitioned from a very active Mormon into a very Science-oriented atheist.

I'm sure the LDS church is experiencing some dwindling interest with the passing of generations. So far their answer seems to be to push harder for active members to have more kids. But I'm not sure how long that strategy will last.

As time goes on I think many or most churches (in the U.S. at least) are starting to realize that if they don't adapt to the increasingly progressive social atmosphere (spurred on by the passage of generations), they're going to be preaching to an empty church. Which may be the very reason why Francis was elected Pope. Can't tell for sure.
Hey, he's a cool pope and all, but if he doesn't address priestly molestation of children and young teenagers, it's all empty and shallow words.

As far as I know, Cardinal Law of Boston (responsible for so many child rapes) still has a job in the Vatican.
I can't wait to see how they reply to that aspect. I've never understood how "socialism" got co-opted/re-framed by the religious/fundamentalist right as a bad or unpatriotic thing. I just DON'T get it. And I have yet to hear somebody explain it without tripping over their own logic and doctrine.
I am glad the Pope is bringing back the Catholic's Church's focus on economic justice. I disagree on so many issues with the Church but the Church's critiques of economics, particulary unrestrained capitalism and socialism without democracy, is one where I largely agree with them. It's been a much missed viewpoint buried by all the anti-abortion, anti-gay rights focus.

I am also glad the Pope has changed the tone of the Papacy to a more welcoming, less judgmental one. That's welcome.

However, he is not changing any of the doctrines. The Church is still anti-gay marriage and anti-abortion and anti-birth control. That is unlikely to change anytime soon, even under this Pope. He's a tone changer, which is important, but he seems unlikely to challenge doctrine.

And I do not know how he can address the horrific abuse by priests, and the equally horrifying fact that their supervisors - bishops, archbishops and Cardinals - almost all universely protected the Church and not children without generating massive upheaval. That upheaval is necessary but it really needs a huge sweep out of current leaders all over the world. This was a universal problem for the Church. It' wasn't confined to the US. And I don't think they can address it without coming face to face with their generally negative views on sex. And those views are a cornerstone of Catholic thought. So between the political costs and the doctrinal challenges, I dont' see much substantive happening on the abuse issue.

I would love to be wrong though.
As much as I'd appreciate sweeping changes, changing church doctrine will take time and if he rushes things, he'll de-stabilize the whole system. Slow and steady... and I think he's heading that way. Hoping, hoping.
It seems hopeful to me.

I'm less than euphoric about the LDS church's recent retraction of its old racist doctrines. It was less a retraction than a denial, and it came conveniently on the heels of Nelson Mandela's death. Still it's a step in the right direction. At least the church won't be able to spew so much racist crap in the future, now that they've set this new precedent.

I'm not thrilled about Francis' failure to speak out against the molestations of children by priests. It seems like he's spoke out against every kind of child abuse (especially child labor and sex slavery) except the abuse spawned by his own Church. His failings were similar when he was a cardinal and I suspect that he was hand-picked for his current office in part for that very reason. The Catholic Church may be ready to loosen its grip on some things, but not on its denial about its most grevious sin in these modern times.

I think socialism has been shown to be able to be carried out successfully, under the right circumstances, by a goodly number of European countries. It shouldn't be something that Americans quake and tremble over, but lots of older folks at least are living in the past where the Cold War was at its height and witch-hunts against communist "spies" were the featured paranoia of the day. When a conservative American hears the word "socialist," I think his/her mind translates it as "commie," with all the fearmongering that entails. Luckily I am not afraid of socialism, so I don't have to try to defend the opposing viewpoint.

But as Dana indicated, the Catholic Church is made less out of clay and more out of cement. It's brittle. Too much change in one sitting would end with the Church cracking and falling to pieces -- not necessarily a bad thing, but something that no entrenched Catholic would want to cause. To become Pope, one must be very loyal to the Church and its survival no matter what one's personal views. So I think it's fortuitous that the higher-ups chose a Pope who'd at least talk a milder talk, even if he's not ready to walk a milder walk. I don't think Francis has fixed the biggest problems by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm happy that he's beginning to point the Church in a direction that no other Pope ever did (not for all but 2000 years at least).

I'll have one eye on the Catholic Church going forward, I'll put it that way.
I know he's done some stuff regarding the child abuse in the Catholic Church. It's a more recent thing (earlier this month) and he has a committee working on ways to stop it, how to track down all the priests who have done these actions to actually remove them, and provide assistance to the victims.
Wow, that's good news. I hope he follows through and that we'll begin to hear more about that.
The Pope has made child abuse/ molestation illegal in the Vatican, where before there was no specific laws that they could hold and punish priests by, as the Vatican is basically a country of it's own. Now offending priests can get shipped to the vatican for investigation and actually punished.
I know he's done some stuff regarding the child abuse in the Catholic Church. It's a more recent thing (earlier this month) and he has a committee working on ways to stop it, how to track down all the priests who have done these actions to actually remove them, and provide assistance to the victims.

Thanks for the link! I see he's just made it a crime to sexually abuse a minor, or hire a child prostitute, in Vatican City. (It wasn't before?)

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) was unimpressed, saying his initiative might burnish the Vatican's image but "in the real world this changes virtually nothing (as it affects only) the 0.2 square miles of Vatican property."

SNAP urged the Church hierarchy to focus on having its personnel abide by long-established secular laws on sexual abuse and rooting out bishops who failed to protect children.

So, no plans to punish bishops involved in the cover-ups.
Let's just admit the Church was a convenient refuge for gay men and lesbians (and pedophiles/ephebophiles, which is different) for 1600 years, shall we?

One more hypocrisy of Christianity.

The Bible is a 2000 year old book of magic, for goodness sakes. The so-called Church Fathers and Saints wrote a bunch of bs according to modes of thought of ancient Rome, and the freeking Middle Ages.

Grow up and get over it!
Well I finally got the conservative guy to bite.


From: Conservative
To: kdt26417, Astronomer
Cc: the Rest of the Gang
Sent: Sunday, December 29, 2013
Subject: Papal Influence

[In kdt26417's words:] Conservative pretty much dismissed the Pope with a wave of his hand. After all, he said, the Pope is just some puny guy propping up a flimsy, dying church. Yusuf al-Qaradawi has much more power and influence. The Catholic Church is eroding into an insignificant status for rank-and-file Westerners.

Atheist socialism is no paradise. Remember the 20th century? Americans clearly don't remember that. They don't care about logic and clarity, just about political correctness. Therefore, the Pope's agenda is uninteresting to Conservative. But for argument's sake let's say the Catholic Church is true. Then why isn't the Pope standing up for traditional family values and worship of the Virgin Mary? Sounds like he just wants to serve the elite narcissists who enjoy free reign in America.

Vladimir Putin is much more interesting. You might be interested in reading his New Year's letter.


The letter Conservative spoke of (linked to above) is a scathing indictment against America for tip-toe-ing around liberal mogels, allowing, for instance, the courts to defy the will of the people and allow same-sex marriage. Knowing Conservative as I do, I know that he's passive-aggressive and would never speak out with such cutting words as Putin did. But the fact that he referenced the New Year's letter says it all. I am convinced that he was angered and offended by my Pope plugging, and aiming a stinging hard-line conservative letter at me was his bit of divine justice. Those who desire to have their feathers ruffled should definitely click on the above link.

But since Conservative took the time to respond to my email, I thought some sucking up was in order. After all, I want him to see that participating in the discussion will earn him a reward. (Damn I'm cynical.) So ...


From: kdt26417
To: Conservative, Astronomer
Cc: the Rest of the Gang
Sent: Sunday, December 29, 2013

Hmmm, interesting ... I didn't realize Putin was a staunch conservative. A conservative with pizzazz, if I may say so. But I don't think Putin and Fracis are in any danger of chatting over tea anytime soon.

I think Putin has given voice to what every faithful conservative in America fears: that the growing foothold of liberal policy is going to suck out the backbone of this once-proud nation and leave it to the buzzards to pick dry.

As for Catholicism, I am not prepared to say that it has become a weak and insignificant force in the world. As Putin said, the quiet majority is conservative, and that surely includes conservative Catholics. But, I think that Catholicism's hold is beginning to slip, especially in terms of the youth who are not attending (and contributing) as much as their parents were. Thus, the Catholic Church is trying to scoop up the youth by championing what the Church believes the youth want. I think that has something to do with why Francis was elected to be the Pope.

I am actually glad that Putin is embracing the values of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Russia is rich in that kind of history, and suffered culturally without it when communist rulers bade the people worship the government rather than the Church. I think that Russia needs to experience a time of religious loyalty in order to recover from that repression. Who knows, maybe Eastern Orthodoxy will supplant Rome as the dictator of original Catholicism in the West. Should be quite a showdown.

I think socialism can work if it's accompanied by honest democracy. Even Putin might agree with that. The problem is, America is too much controlled by special interests. I myself can see that. The system is rigged.

I asked Lawyer [another member of the gang] what he thought of Mars mission prospects and he responded that he's in favor of it as long as America fixes its debt problem first. At the rate we are going, he predicts the collapse of our nation in about fifty years. Not a very good legacy to leave for our children. So I am inclined to agree that the national debt is the one thing rank-and-file liberals and conservatives alike tend to underestimate. We're all busy fighting over homosexuality while the government runs our collective credit cards through the roof. I don't know if Lawyer's prediction is right, but maybe I'm kind of glad that I probably won't live longer than fifty more years. You see, there's my selfishness coming out ...

Well Conservative, I appreciate your posting your thoughts and I know I goaded you, which is why I consider it fair enough to receive a sophisticated taunt by Putin in return. I was just surprised that the current Pope is as liberal-minded as he seems to be. The fly in the ointment seems to be his failure to address the molestation of children by priests. But rumor has it that he's finally starting to address that issue. I hope it's true. Conservatives and liberals alike will agree that such sexual abuse is a terrible and onerous thing. It needs to be stopped and corrected with a strong hand.

I am interested to hear what any of you other guys would like to say, if you get time and opportunity to say it.

Kevin T.


Didn't the prior Pope resign? If so, perhaps that's another reason why Pope Francis was elected. A face-saving measure, if you will.


From: Programmer
To: kdt26417, Conservative, Astronomer
Cc: the Rest of the Gang
Sent: Monday, December 30, 2013

[In kdt26417's words:] Programmer only touched briefly on the Pope, saying he didn't know a whole lot about that topic and that he agreed with me that trying to change too much too quickly in the Catholic Church would do more harm than good.

With that, Programmer then transitioned into another topic he wanted to discuss. Or topic cluster:

  • Should we be donating organs when the recipients suffer terrible side effects from the body's tendency to reject the implant? Conservative once said the answer is no.
  • What happens to survival of the fittest when we prop up the weak with organ implants, life extension, and other modern luxuries?
  • What of life extension itself, what about all the problems it (would) cause/s?
Since the above-listed questions are out of scope for this thread, I'll not delve further into what Programmer said unless it be requested by you guys, in which case I'll start a new thread on the subject.


As far as I know, that concludes the gang's Pope discussion. The guys have moved on to other topics, I think.