So a little while ago when all of the news started coming out linking the current Pope to cover-ups of sex abuse in the Catholic Church, I posted “the Pope is an evil, disgusting piece of garbage” as my Facebook status.
A little while after that I got a response from my mom, who expressed her opinion that she didn’t think that name-calling fit in with my new philosophy of reason and critical thought. She said that I would have gotten farther with explaining where I was coming from, and that a dialogue would have been more constructive rather than typing words that might put people on the defensive.
I thought about it for a bit, and this was my response to her:
I guess I was pretty angry when I wrote that, as I had just heard about how the Pope was (allegedly) involved in a cover up of a priest who had raped 200 deaf boys, so that’s where I was coming from when I wrote that. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/25/world/europe/25vatican.html
But actually I’m not sure I would take it back now that I think about it…If I were involved in as many awful things as the Pope has been since he became the Pope and before that, I would expect people to call me much worse names.
He hasn’t been convicted of anything in the court of law, but it would be nice if he had to face consequences for the most recent scandal, in which a letter surfaced signed by him that explained that he wouldn’t defrock a convicted pedophile priest because he was looking out for the interests of the church: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/vaticancityandholysee/7573321/Text-of-1985-letter-from-future-Pope-Benedict-on-California-sex-abuse.html
Other more concrete examples of the Pope’s evilness:
-Opposing gay equality laws in the UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/feb/01/pope-condemns-british-equality-bill
-Spreads lies about condoms and AIDS in AIDS-ravaged areas http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/17/pope-africa-condoms-aids (the Pope is said to be infallible, but he he spreads lies that cause poor people to have children they can’t afford at the same time as condemning abortion, and that contribute to the spread of AIDS)
So although maybe I didn’t express my feelings in the best way in that Facebook comment, I honestly can’t say I feel bad about calling the Pope those things. He’s in a position that makes him trusted and respected by millions of Catholics, but he hasn’t earned that respect. He’s supposed to set a moral example, and before he was Pope he was still a church leader so his career should have been characterized by thinking about morality, yet time and time again he rejects reality in favour of doing the wrong thing as long as it conforms to the Catholic Church Dogma. And the worst part is that since he’s got that whole religion thing going on, people will allow him to spew nonsense, and he’ll never be held accountable for the consequences of his words and actions.
I try not to call names, but people have this unjustified respect for the Pope, so by calling him names on Facebook I’m protesting the idea that he should be shown respect by default because he’s a religious leader, and showing explicitly that he doesn’t have my respect.
I want to add a couple of things. The first is that I do often post links to stories that are damning for the Church, but I think this was one of the times where I just wanted to express frustration and didn’t bother attaching a link that supported my thoughts. And second, I grew up belonging to a Catholic Church and called myself a Catholic throughout my life until recently, so although my experience in my Church was a positive one, part of my goal in putting down the Catholic Church on my Facebook wall is to distance myself from the organization.
So what do you think? Am I putting people in a defensive position with regards to the Pope or the Church? Is it sometimes effective just to name-call? What do you think is the most constructive way to express an opinion like anger at the Pope in a social medium like Facebook or Twitter?