Monday, 28 September 2015

I might agree with you, but you are wrong...

Here's an article about Pope Francis. In it, he gives a vague answer about whether Kim Davis was right to refuse to give same sex couples a marriage certificate. 

The headline states that Pope Francis agrees with her behaviour. The actual quotation from the Pope doesn't.

Terry Moran, ABC News:Holy Father, thank you, thank you very much and thank you to the Vatican staff as well. Holy Father, you visited the Little Sisters of the Poor and we were told that you wanted to show your support for them and their case in the courts. And, Holy Father, do you also support those individuals, including government officials, who say they cannot in good conscience, their own personal conscience, abide by some laws or discharge their duties as government officials, for example in issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. Do you support those kinds of claims of religious liberty?

Pope Francis:
I can’t have in mind all cases that can exist about conscience objection. But, yes, I can say the conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right. It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right.Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right, a human right. Otherwise we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying ‘this right that has merit, this one does not.’ 

It (conscientious objection) is a human right. It always moved me when I read, and I read it many times, when I read the Chanson de Roland when the people were all in line and before them was the baptismal font and they had to choose between the baptismal font or the sword. They had to choose. They weren’t permitted conscientious objection. It is a right and if we want to make peace we have to respect all rights.

One conservative commentator takes this to mean that Pope Francis is implying support for Kim Davis, but admits it is likely that he is not familiar with the details of her behaviour. 

However, I'd like to focus on his reference to the Chanson. In it, he is recalling the most aggressive approach to evangelism - convert or die - and is condemning it. Rather than comment on the failures of a secular system, he evokes Catholicism's darker chapters. 

The Pink News piece does give plenty of context which reveals a homophobic world-view within the Catholic Church, and expresses a disappointment that the early, progress statement of Francis have not yielded tangible change. It's not unfair to think he would defend Kim Davis: both commentators share this assumption. 

However, he seems to be encouraging a dialectic approach to the issue, and presenting a justification for civil disobedience. And by pointing to the antics of medieval Christianity, he links it directly to the importance of challenging the church itself. 

He's such a Jesuit. 

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