Pope Francis Is A U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Public Relations Creation

Pope Francis

Over the past week there were hints and suppositions that Republicans were quaking in their boots at the thought of Pope Francis addressing a joint session of Congress due to his advocacy for the poor and message on climate change. However, it was Speaker of the House John Boehner who invited the “Vicar of Christ” because Pope Francis is not, in any universe, the shining progressive many Americans believe he is. In fact, Francis is closely aligned with conservative Republican ideology; particularly in his position on addressing poverty and social issues such as homosexuality, same-sex marriage, birth control, and women’s rights.

There is a gross misconception that Pope Francis is exceedingly more progressive on social issues than his predecessors. That is just not true and it is a mistake to believe otherwise. However, where he is most insincere is speaking like an advocate for the poor. As leader of the extremely wealthy Catholic Church, he is not remotely leading according to, or following, Jesus Christ’s example or teachings.

In fact, as a few who are not mesmerized by his Jesus-like messages have noted, there is a monumental disconnect between what the pope says, and his strict adherence to the same archaic Vatican policies he perpetuates; particularly about wealth. What Pope Francis represents is a finely-honed, friendlier, and more progressive public relations image that belies longstanding archaic Vatican policies; not unlike the much-touted new and friendlier Republican Party was supposed to be.

One thing is perfectly clear; once the luster and image of a Jesus-like Pope is stripped away, as the Vatican says while people praise Pope progressive; “no Church policy has or is going to change.” What is a certainty is that this new Pope’s ‘progressive’ act is smoke and mirrors to “reverse the incredible decline in fundraising under the last pope from the U.S. Catholic Church.” It is why regardless the gnashing of conservative teeth over the Pope’s rhetoric condemning conservative’s embrace of income inequality, he is no different than every Republican in Congress and conservative in America; he talks the talk about reducing poverty and helping the disadvantaged, but does not walk the walk.

It is true that at first blush many, many observers were rightly stunned that here, at long last, is a Pope actually “talking like Jesus about” the plight of the poor and condemning the filthy rich who hoard their wealth the peasants have provided them. The Pope could just as well have been talking about the extremely wealthy Catholic institution. He also said it was not his place to pass judgment on people that longstanding Church doctrine says are immoral, and yet the dogma stays firmly in place without a hint of change in the offing.

Francis is wildly popular according to polls conducted by The Washington Post/ABC and CNN.  The Pew Research Center revealed that “Seven-in-ten U.S. Catholics now say Francis represents a major change in direction for the church” according to recent surveys. But when the Pope’s public image is compared with his adherence to harsh Catholic dogma, he is perfectly in sync on social issues with his “wildly unpopular predecessor” Pope Benedict XVI. Why the change in the pope’s “image” but not Vatican dogmata? As usual it is about bringing money in to the Catholic Church; the “biggest financial power on Earth.”

Even before Pope Francis was elected, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) were planning a PR campaign to soften the Church’s image and attract the younger generation. The Vatican hired a former Fox News correspondent, Greg Burke, as a senior communications adviser reporting directly to the Vatican. The New York Times noted that Burke met with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, and “confirmed that being known by the Fox-favorite cardinal helped him get hired.”  Burke is a celibate, traditionalist, and member of the conservative Catholic alliance Opus-Dei. The Vatican also hired the consulting firm of McKinsey & Company to “study the Holy See’s communications, with an eye to creating a more effective media operation.”  The ultimate goal in hiring a phalanx of public relations firms was simply to reverse the “declining view of the Church” caused by public relations miscues (accurate reporting).

Apparently, because of the high level of funding from America, the American Cardinals wield a great deal of influence over the Vatican’s public relation policies; especially when it concerns halting declining member donations due to church policy. One recurring comment in several surveys of American Catholics was that the church is harsh and out of touch. One oft-stated sentiment from American Catholics surveyed was that “I would like them not to be so quick to condemn people because of their sexual preference or because of abortion, or to refuse priests the right to get married or women to be priests. I don’t think the church should ever get involved in whether or not people use birth control.” According to polling, that sentiment typified the responses of American Catholics, and it was crucially important to improve Americans’ image of the Church to keep American dollars rolling in.

According to The Economist, “The American church accounts for over 60% of the global institution’s wealth; and it is huge money. The National Catholic Reporter revealed that American Catholics provide more than $150 million a week, or about $8 billion annually that is not going to the poor Francis pretends to advocate for.  Forbes reported that American Catholics are responsible for almost a third of the charitable contributions that directly fund the Holy See, and that contributions declined from $82 million in 2009 to $70 million in 2011. In fact, that Forbes article noted that “as of the last Vatican financial report from mid-2012, the Holy See is in the red.”  So a new Pope emerges talking about the poor like Jesus; not because Church policy is changing whatsoever, but because it is crucial to pacify American Catholics who are central to funding the Vatican.

What is telling is that while Pope Francis talks about the poor like Jesus, he or the Church does not put any of Christ’s teachings into practice. Every Catholic, and Christian devotee for that matter, is familiar with Jesus Christ’s commandment to the rich to “sell all their belongings and give the proceeds to the poor.” Regardless of the Vatican’s accounting, it is obscenely wealthy and yet like the corporate wealthy Pope Francis criticizes, the Church hypocritically hoards its money instead of divesting its wealth and giving it to the poor like Jesus commanded his followers. Poverty is not a concern for the Pope or the Church and the glaring hypocrisy was called out by the National Catholic Reporter.

It complained that the Vatican could not care one iota less that the “lack of access to birth control and comprehensive family planning” traps poor people in a perpetual cycle of poverty. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) reported that “Family planning is a powerful tool in combating poverty. However, universal access to family planning is not a reality and that worldwide, 200 million women would like to delay or prevent pregnancy, but they are not using effective contraception.” This is particularly true in Africa and predominately Catholic South America where adhering to the church’s prohibition on contraceptives is followed religiously. It is important to remember that the Vatican’s Humanae Vitae and Pope Francis consider “unnatural birth control immoral and a mortal sin against god.”

This past week Pope Francis confirmed the Vatican’s prohibition on “unnatural birth control” the USCCB is attempting to ban in America. He told devotees suffering in poverty that to prevent unwanted pregnancies and more children they will struggle to feed; just “don’t breed like rabbits.” If married couples do enjoy and practice regular conjugal sex, they are restricted to “Church-approved natural birth control methods.”  It is a typical religious edict meant to control its devotees’ sexuality and prohibit “consequence free sex;” something American evangelical fanatics promote.

When the new Pope began talking like Jesus and won new admirers who were not even in the church, it seemed too good to be true and it was. It is a public relations scam to attract new devotees and their checkbooks to the church. It is likely why the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops supported President Obama’s immigration reform action because retaining 11-million Hispanic Catholics in the country is crucial to maintaining church membership and increasing funding levels.

If the Pope followed Christ’s teachings, he would instruct the worldwide church to immediately begin selling off its considerable wealth and assets and give the proceeds to the poor. The least the Pope could do when he addresses his Republican cohorts in Congress is call for eliminating tax-exempt status for his Catholic churches, or at least pass a law that they open their tax-exempt buildings to the homeless. But that is something Jesus Christ would advocate and one thing is exceeding clear; Pope Francis may talk like Jesus, but he walks like a conservative Republican.

29 Replies to “Pope Francis Is A U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Public Relations Creation”

  1. He’s a prettier, sweeter version of Benny the Rat. Like bad cop, good cop type of stuff, this man seems to say the right things but the real test is in what he does. So far not much. I haven’t seen any real cleansing of the pedophiles, no reinstatement of the US nuns’ autonomy, no apologies for bank fraud, drug money laundering and the other nefarious shit this crime syndicate has done.
    Any one who buys this dude’s schtick, well you are naive as a newborn babe. I was a catholic and suffered abuse at the hands of their holy clergy as well as saw the absolute greed of their priests in refusing to visit my dying mom because she hadn’t sent in her money filled envelopes for a year.
    This organization and EVERYONE who supports it are evil. Right down to the silly old ladies who shovel their SS checks into the collection box. Ignorance and tradition are no excuse for funding child fuckers and the evil that is the RCC.

  2. You are absolutely right at this stage of the game. But the only reason Pope Frances is so convincing is he as an individual walks his talk, he just can’t get the church to be Christian.

  3. But his words do matter…..making people think about climate change, being stewards of the earth! Yes………please?

  4. Really intersesting!

    He had me fooled, but I’m not a Catholic and have just been watching the Pope headlines. I guess the “breeding like rabbits” talk was off script, lol.

    So Greg Burke is celibate? Do we believe this?

  5. Is it hateful or is it fact? Do you think the pope will be any different then the rest? He will make changes for the better?

  6. CNN just had a priest spokesperson on to “explain” the “rabbit breeding” statement. He said the Pope gets “loosey goosey” the plane rides home and says stuff. Cue the lock down on plane ride media access.

  7. I will wait and see. As far as not seeing anything. Then some must be blind. The Pope on his birthday had 400 sleeping bags given to the homeless in the area. I have never seen any other Pope speak out and show compassion for the poor. Change takes time and the Pope has not had the time needed to effect real change. See that comes from the heart when dealing with people.

    By the way folks Speaker Boehner invited the Pope in March of 2014 longer before the Pope started speaking out against the TP/GOP policies against the poor.
    http://www.speaker.gov/press-release/speaker-boehner-invites-pope-francis-address-joint-meeting-congress. Timing is everything folks and I for one am betting that the Speaker wishes he had never invited the Pope.
    So say what you will I will sit and hold judgement until more concrete FACTS are seen by all, not opinions. Remember the truth sets us free not opinions.

  8. This article is Baloney; Change is slow especially in an ultraconservative environment so some liberals as they are want to do, want the whole thing changed immediately. look closely at his appointments as cardinals for the future.

  9. Just another ¨airbrushed pope¨ to sell the nefarious cult that is the catholic church…Too bad their sheeple buy into this carefully crafted marketing sceme…

  10. I’m sorry, but this article is 100% complete, unadulterated BS, written by someone with an axe to grind against the Catholic Church in general. And the “people” agreeing with this article are no better.

    As someone else said, some people who call themselves “liberals” want everything changed all at once, right now, and anything that does not conform that that desire is considered “whitewashing.”

    I am liberal, and a baptized (but lapsed) Catholic. If you can’t immediately see the vast differences between this Pope and the ones who immediately preceded him, then you’re either blind, or willfully and deliberately ignorant.

  11. Yeah. I’m a liberal Democrat too. I could see right away this article is kneejerk anti-Catholic, and I’m not even Catholic.

  12. The Church is wealthy! Could anyone immagine how wealthy the Vatica is? I say that no-one could be capable of computing Vatican’s wealth. If you have ever been to see the Vatican museum in Rome you may have a faint idea of what I’m speaking of. What should the Pope do? Sell all of it! May he could sell it on the open market and send all the states of the earth bankrupt, then give everything to the poor. The revolution to end all revolutions! How about it? No, Pope Francis is living in Casa Santa Marta the same hotel that has hosted the cardinals and himself coming from abroad for the Election of the new Pope. He has a Renault R4, that was given to him by another priest who owned it. Does not want anybody carry his document case for him. And has fired his Secretary of State Cardinal Bertone, that lived in a luscious 700 square meters apartment, and named cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran instead. He has helped President Obama thaw relations with Cuba!

  13. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at this pope’s humanistic, Jesus-like personna so far and I suppose I’m paranoid. But I’m bracing myself in case RMuse is right and the Pope is involved in some sort of GOP “gotcha!”
    A double whammy of Pope and Netanyahue would leave a sore spot that would be long in healing.

  14. I don’t understand why people thought this guy was going to be making radical changes in the area of contraception, abortion, or homosexuality. He has taken care to remove from power many people placed by the man who rebuked his order, and were just a little too vocal or profligate in their spending, sacking bishops and cardinals. What people seem to forget is that this guy is a Jesuit. Jesuits are very sincere, and straightforward. They will not go against the word of God, but as he said “natural” family planning is ok, God doesn’t expect us to breed like rabbits. That’s what a Jesuit would be expected to say!

    Also, Jesuits do genuinely care about the poor. They pulled this guy out of South America, and I have no doubt he had a higher standard of living than many there, but I also believe that if you put him back there as a priest he wouldn’t object to ministering to the poor.

    Remember, he’s not going to radically transform the church, he’s a Jesuit not a liberal.

  15. It’s also important to note that he has been shifting people around in an attempt to break the stranglehold. That being said, like I said in response to another: the guy is a Jesuit, not a liberal. He isn’t going to radically transform Holy Mother Church, heck he couldn’t live the 500 years necessary to do it without divine assistance.

    Really people, don’t expect this guy to radically change the church. He’d be accomplishing a huge amount if he just drove them back toward the path of caring for the poor. That organization, like any business bureaucracy or government bureaucracy, has a huge amount of inertia. Heck even more than the other two, because appointments ares rarely changed allowing for power bases to be built over a lifetime. This guy even moving people out of their power base, or sacking a cardinal / bishop here and there, is ballsy. Just because he’s pope doesn’t make him all powerful in the church. He’s trying to undo centuries of idiocy, and it can’the be done…

  16. He’s trying to move a centuries old organizational bureacracy in a different direction. An organization that typically has lifetime appointments has a lot of inertia to overcome just to get it to change direction.

    Also, please remember this guy is a Jesuit. He’s not a Lutheran or a United Church of Christ guy, he isn’t making radical changes. The biggest changes, in his mind, he could make are likely trying to push the church to care more for the poor and less about fancy houses. Oh, and probably get rid of the most divisive people in power he can manage to push into other jobs. That being said, he isn’t all powerful even in the church, and he knows it. He’s probanly hoping if he can change just 5%-10% of the power structure it becomes self-fulfilling.

  17. I never thought he’d change on those major church issues. I’m just glad he seems more on point with the Sermon on the Mount.

  18. I think he really exposed himself in a number of ways on his trip to the Philippines. First with the ridiculous birth control statements. Second with the inability to answer the child talking about so many children being neglected and abandoned. He said to the child there is no answer and then he launched into a Mother Theresa-like discussion about suffering. He said that everyone should learn how to weep. It was hideous.

    The trip to the Philippines itself exposed him as hypocritical regarding all of his shunning of pomp and circumstance and his criticism of the cardinals (which was totally justified). Because the only reason to go to the Philippines in the first place is that it is a country that would give everyone a week off from work and would hide the homeless temporarily and would produce 6 million people to publicly adore him.

    The trip to the Philippines was a PR disaster despite the fact that 6 million people turned out like sheep. Next stop, Philadelphia. Hmm…

  19. Garbage. Rmuse is very incorrect in his assumptions about the real views expressed by Pope Francis. He has not read a breadth of the Pope’s work. He is a Jesuit, who is truly devoted to the people. Pope Francis is connected with the people about whom he speaks. Conservative bishops have been demoted and derided for living in contrast to christian values.
    Pope Francis has made substantial changes within the church. In particular he made one of his first duties to audit church funds and to reform its distributions.

  20. Re: “He also said it was not his place to pass judgment on people that longstanding Church doctrine says are immoral, and yet the dogma stays firmly in place without a hint of change in the offing.” – “Not passing judgment on others” has been grossly misconstrued to mean that Pope Francis agrees with immorality and will try to change the Catholic Church according to cultural trends and popular opinion. Pope Francis himself has said that he is a son of the Church, and thus, he adheres to God’s Word. No pope has the power to change God’s Word; Pope Francis will not, nor will any pope, ever go against church teaching. Of course, secular society fights against this. Christ said to St. Peter, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The efforts against the Catholic Church-the one true, apostolic church founded by Jesus Christ-will never succeed. The Holy Spirit will protect her.

  21. I’m not buying it. I don’t need to be taught how to cry by these assholes and I don’t need their sh!tty advice about sexuality. He’s said a few nice things and that’s about it. I’m sick of them. I want to see a little more about the enviroment and more talk about birthcontrol and that women are people with rights. There are 7 billion people, that’s plenty.

  22. You have it exactly backwards. The Pope is dragging the bishops kicking and screaming into prioritizing social and economic justice over culture war issues.

  23. But I thought the Pope was the voice of god so if the Bishops are not following him are they not disobeying god?

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