In the interest of full disclosure, and so my bias seems a little more warranted, I’d first like to say that I was raised Catholic. My mom’s family is Catholic, my dad’s family is Catholic, my grandma is probably the most terrifyingly Catholic person I have ever met. She could out-Catholic the Pope himself (who, incidentally, this post is about). As you will ascertain from this post, I do not like the Catholic Church. I do not like its teachings; I do not like a good portion of its followers. (And let’s be honest, I’m pretty sure Jesus wouldn’t either). That is not to say, however, that good Catholic people don’t exist, or that I don’t love my family, or that it (in some cases) doesn’t do good work. But as an institution, frankly, it and those who retain inordinate amounts of power its upper echelons disgust me. I see the Catholic Church (based on research and my own experiences) as a paragon representing the issue of sexism, homophobia, racism and male supremacy/patriarchy as they are institutionalized within religions. And that takes us to the Pope.
As we are all aware, the Church has declared that ordaining women as priests is akin to pedophilia. Due to the fact that the Church also doesn’t appear to take pedophilia that seriously given its illustrious history of disgusting child sexual abuse, I’m not sure why we didn’t start ordaining women en masse the day they issued that statement. Anyway, the logic behind this stems from the usual religious sexist excuses—women are dirty and inferior; priests should be as close to God’s supposed image as possible and since somehow we have all this proof (that no one has ever seen) that God had a schlong, women simply can’t fill that role; women menstruate and that’s just icky, etc etc. So it follows that the Pope also must be a dude thus filling one of the most patriarchal power positions in history. John Paul II is probably one of the more famous Popes, and Catholics and non-Catholics alike often revere him for his “humanitarianism” and commitments towards “human rights.” And he did a great fucking job. Because he used his position of power to classify condoms as a moral wrong. Which makes Pope John Paul II a murderer. If you tell people not to use condoms, especially in places where there is a very serious public health crisis involving sexually transmitted diseases, namely HIV/AIDS, you are killing them. You are knowingly killing them. Followers of Catholicism (at least the very Catholic ones or those with little access to other mediums of education) follow whatever crazy shit the Pope says to the letter. If you tell people who believe whatever you say to be the word of God not to use condoms, then they won’t use them. But they will damn well still have sex, whether for pleasure or reproductive purposes, and they will damn will spread whatever STD they have to their sexual partner. And bam! one more person contracts HIV, which means that person will die because the Pope said no condoms. (Misinformation about medical issues seems to be a theme with Christians… see my previous posts on Crisis Pregnancy Centers. Charming stuff).
Up until yesterday, actually, Chancellor Palpatine, sorry, I mean Pope Benedict, followed very closely in his predecessor’s distinguished footsteps. Yeah, he actually said that condoms “increase” the issue of AIDS in Africa, where in 2008 a staggering 22.4 million adults and children were living with AIDS. Wise words. But yesterday, he did a not-quite-180. Pope Benedict has declared that condoms are perhaps not morally right, but “justifiable” in some cases… namely in the cases of male prostitutes. Yeah, that sounds just as fucking weird to me as it probably does to you. His reasoning is that using a condom in the case of a male prostitute (but apparently not female ones because, as we all know, women are simply baby-carrying vessels who need to get knocked up at any opportunity) using the condom can be morally responsible. Yes, and bears shit in the woods, the Pope is Catholic, etc. (sorry I couldn’t resist that one). He goes on to shit all over this genius revelation by regurgitating one of my favorite anti-choice lines: “How many children are killed who might one day have been geniuses, who could have given humanity something new, who could have given us a new Mozart or some new technical discovery?” Yes, excellent point, and how many murderers, rapists, and engineers of genocide were “killed?” We’ll never know, because women made the rights choices for themselves, their bodies, and their situations. Not to mention, the comparison of condom or other birth control use to abortion is completely fallacious. The two are not synonymous. Just like how Plan B is not the same as having an abortion.
Basically, this is a positive step. Well, it’s more like a minute, baby-like wobble than a fully formed step. But it’s something, right? Perhaps this initial relaxation in the Church’s antediluvian anti-sex, anti-condom policy will lead to other positive changes in the way they craft policy around women’s issues and sexual issues. But also let’s not hold our breath, because the chance of the Church ever hauling ass out of the Middle Ages and ending its patriarchal, Western, racist, homophobic, and woman-hating policies is slim-to-none. And with that, I can hear the letter containing my Order of Excommunication being signed, sealed, and delivered.