Since yesterday morning, I’ve been tweeted and emailed and messaged hundreds of links to various stories reporting that Pope Francis says it’s better to be atheist than to be a shitty Catholic. With each new tweet, message and email, the temperature of my blood has risen and now, just a day later, it’s boiling.
But let me tell you why.
For almost a dozen years, there was a man who, using scripture from the Old Testament, convinced underage boys that they would go to hell if they didn’t have continued and repeated sexual conduct with him. His favourite place to manhandle their prepubescent bodies was in confessional. Fr. Mauro Izoli, who loved to own and drive fast, expensive cars so much, they nicknamed him ‘Don Mercedes’, raped, repeatedly, boys as young as 10 by threatening them with eternal torture. Using the fear of their own beloved god, he tormented them, exposing them to things no child should ever be exposed to.
It went on for years in the city of Brescia in Northern Italy. Day after day, these young boys would be sexually terrorized by an old man and suffer in silence for fear of the wrath of god. Their lives would be forever changed, the scars of their abuse hard to hide.
One day, though…. one day, there was a boy brave enough to step forward. He unloaded all that he had been carrying around with him, reporting the man of god who had been systematically raping him to police. He looked his fear of god in the eye, realized no god that wanted this to continue was worth worshipping, and told the police what had been going on.
The investigation that ensued turned up more boys who claimed similar treatment by the church leader. The evidence piled up, both inside the Vatican and out. There was so much of it, that Pope Benedict decided the best action to take would be to defrock Don Mercedes. Izoli was tossed out of god’s house in 2012. As he awaited trial in Italy, this was the best possible thing we could hope for: removing him from a position of authority over children.
As you likely already know, Pope Benedict resigned in 2013. In his wake, Pope Francis was elected, his supporters seeing him as the man who would reform the church and take a harder stance on the sex abuse scandals. Since his election, the Pope has certainly said and done a great many things that seem to be real people pleasers. He’s hugged 100 people in wheelchairs and said the faithful should not judge the LGBT community. He’s said hello to muslims and he tweets. Known to take a selfie now and then, the Pope has also denounced global capitalism and likes to talk a lot about how shitty poverty is.
This is all so much better than any Pope before him, right? The Franciscan hype train is running on truth, isn’t it?
Absolutely, if shallow publicity stunts are what you’re looking for in God’s representative down here on earth. It certainly is, if bold sounding deepities are the most you can hope for from the leader of the Catholic church.
If, what you’re looking for, instead, is a leader worthy of our respect, the answer is no.
In 2014, Pope Francis RE-frocked Don Mercedes. Reversing the decision by his predecessor, everybody’s favourite man of God let a child rapist don the holy robes once more. Though he did request that Izoli stay away from children and live a life of prayer and humility, what Catholic child won’t see a man in the cloth of god as an authority figure. You can bet your virgin ass he’s touched boy since then.
To add insult to injury, the the volumes of evidence against Izoli being held by the Vatican were requested by Italian law enforcement. The Vatican said, with the Pope’s awareness, a brutal and devastating, “no”.
As a result, Izoli, who faced a potential 12 years in prison, walked away with just under five years. For anyone counting, that gives a man in his mid-sixties a chance at seeing freedom again, and being around little boys again.
Now, you can argue that this is just one case – a case with many facts we aren’t privy to, thanks to the Vatican – and that maybe there’s something here that made sense to the big, cuddly, virtue-signalling Pope. But you’d be wrong.
In 2013, students from the Argentina/Italy Provolo Institute for Deaf and Mute began continued contact with the Pope, begging him to intervene on their behalf. A priest at their school, they claimed was sexually abusing them. For three years they continued to send videos and letters directly to the Pope. For three years they were ignored while the sexual abuse continued. Just a few months ago, after no attention from the Pope for these three years, civilian police finally stepped in and arrested Fr. Nicola Corradi.
There is also, of course, the concern surrounding the Pope’s intent on reversing reforms set in place not just by Benedict, but also John Paul II. These reforms, which saw the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith take over dealing with sexually predatory clergy, resulted in the Vatican taking much more swift and final action against priests accused of child molestation. Reversing them, we can only assume, will have the opposite effect.
So, Popester thinks it’s better to be an atheist than to be a shitty Catholic? Well, Franky, in the wise words of one Roger Dorn, I only have one thing to say to you:
Fucking prove it, you child-molester-protecting, scum-bucket, fuck jug.