No Stranger to Fiction #19: Pope Matters

“To me, religion is like Paul Rudd. I see the appeal, and I would never take it away from anyone. But I also would never stand in line for it.”

– Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), Community episode 1×12 – “Comparative Religion”, written by Liz Cackowski

This weekend saw an anti-Pope march in London, the capital of England. Protestors took issue, and rightfully so, with everything from the Pope’s stance on the pedophiliac cancer that is destroying the Catholic Church from within, his disparaging anti-gay rights position (odd, coming from a man who, according to his job description, isn’t supposed to even have the most basic sexual thoughts, so who is he to trample on other’s desires?), the Church’s stance on birth control-related issues and, of course, his presence as a head of state in a nation where freedom of religion is a basic right, yet his presence was paid for by taxpayers’ pounds.

Wait. Hold the phone a minute. An Anti-Pope march?

Was this whole protest cooked up by the Pope’s evil arch-nemesis, the demonic Catholic Bizarro known as the Anti-Pope, in an attempt to draw the former Cardinal out of his protective Popemobile so that he can finally strike him down once and for all? Were all these poor, helpless, liberal sinners merely brainwashed, as if by Mastermind or Gorilla Grodd, to help take down the just and righteous Pope in the name of Satan and his children, Jodie Christiansen, Damien Thorn and Adrian Woodhouse?

Would the protestors, realizing the error of their ways, return to the side of the Pope, renouncing their homosexuality and agnosticism, and help stem the tides of the End of Days? Would Matt Murdock, Kurt Wagner, Anita Blake, Dum Dum Dugan and Michael O’Sullivan form a Jesus League of Anglo-Saxon England to save the day (Uh, probably not, seeing as how Murdock is now a murderer, Wagner is a filthy degenerate mutant and also dead, Anita Blake kills vampires and who knows if that’s a sin or if the Church lets that go, and I’m pretty sure O’Sullivan’s status as a mob hitman doesn’t qualify him)?

Ah, but you see what I did there.

The silly phrase “Anti-Pope march”, bringing to mind the idea of a papal leader facing down his Antimatter Universe counterpart, says a lot about what actually happened in England this weekend. The protest was all about the darker aspects of what we, as a race, have allowed to happen to us in this ten-year-old century. Yes, everything that was being protested is, inarguably, a holdover from the dawn of mankind, when First Man Fred (or Cain, to you religious types) said to his brother Second Man Ted (Abel, I guess), “You know, I find your tie offputting and your demeanor appalling on far too many levels. I challenge you to fisticuffs on the field of honor.” Ted, not wanting to look dishonorable, showed up at the appointed time, but Fred went and bashed his head in with a giant stone anyway because, hey, he wasn’t exactly a man of his word. Ideology has always been a killer, and conflicting ideologies have always been the birthplace of killer instincts.

As a human male in his twenties, I’d be lying to say that sex isn’t a favorite pastime of mine. If I was less cautious — or, you know, Catholic — I’d probably have an unfortunate load of Little Brettauers running around, asking to go to the circus or the mall or SHUT THE HELL UP WHY DO I HAVE YOU I CAN’T AFFORD YOU ANYWAY GOOD GOD HEMINGWAY HAD THE RIGHT IDEA.

If I was even less careful, I could also could have Chlamydia. Or gonorrhea. Or herpes. Or AIDS. But I guess that doesn’t matter to the Pope. That only happens to the filthy deviants.

Oh, yes, Your Eminence, I haven’t forgotten about the Church’s stance on homosexuality. I know for a fact that my gay friends’ relationships don’t undermine Fred Phelps’ marriage (no one in their right mind would marry that clown) or Mel Gibson’s (he did that on his own). I find it hard to believe that their relationships could somehow sap your chastity away. If they are truly happy, then what’s bothering you? Happiness is a beautiful thing, especially when it comes from a place of love.

Your visit to England should not have been at the expense of the delightful civilians of that nation. Most of them are probably unaware of your trip there and a large percentage of the ones who do know you’re there probably don’t even recognize your alleged “Earthly power”. The ones who do care, though, are vocal, direct and most of all, right.

The Jews, Muslims, agnostics, athesists, Buddhists, Gnostics, Jains, Sikhs, homosexuals, liberals, artists and the like who populate Brtiain should not have to pay for your visit and your protection. It’s asinine to ask someone who doesn’t believe in the same god as you (or even a god of any kind!) to pay for your chance to spread vile, hateful propaganda like a state-selected Charles Coughlin.

You have faith, right? Step out of your bullet-proof Popemobile. Your God will protect you.

And then there’s that whole sex scandal thing, where the well-respected ordained men of the Church, perfectly godly in every way, find it perfectly acceptable to do unspeakable things to young children, scarring them for life, doing who knows what to their minds in the process. I assume if one of these children grows up to be an unhinged mass murderer, mowing down fourteen people in Trafalgar Square or Grand Central Station, that it’s just God’s will, that it was those people’s time, that this violence is officially condemned by the blah blah and so-and-so will be brought to justice, that the method of their delivery to God was etc., etc., etc.

What if three of those victims were gay?

What if one was an unmarried pregnant woman?

What if one victim was a priest?

I know the Catholic Church isn’t big on psychology, so I think it’s prudent to break this down just a little bit.

When a young child — let’s just call him Job, because he’s about to go through some massive tribulations — learns to feel comfortable around someone, to trust them, it’s a watershed moment in his life. When he finds a mentor, Job feels like he has guidance. When his mentor takes him behind the pulpit to “show him something”, Job’s world is shattered, destroyed, ruined.

From that one moment, any number of scenarios could occur. Job could feel he’s a disgusting pervert, that he’s the one to blame, and may act out accordingly. He may bully younger children, possibly molesting them as well. He may suppress the memories, rendering him incapable of normal romantic relationships until it all comes boiling to the surface in a cathartic, tearful moment, just days before he stabs thirty-two people to death in the Sydney Opera House.

That’s what happens, Your Eminence, to your Church’s young.

People are angry about this, and understandably so. They are angry that children — not even their children, necessarily — are having their lives destroyed by men protected from up on high, and that you just let them get away their crimes. Your organization’s inability to speak out about Hitler’s genocide or even the African slave trade has reared its ugly head again, this time in the mass rape of the world’s children. Oh yeah, I said it, and I’ll say it again: Pope Benedict, you are responsible for the mass rape of the world’s children and you are allowing these criminals to be wear the uniform of Godly men. There’s something inherently wrong there. And by “something”, I mean everything.

It’s a shame that my “Anti-Pope” jokes above aren’t indicative of reality. When it comes to justice, long-term readers of my articles will note, I firmly believe life should be more like a comic book. Molestation in the clergy? Batman, Superman and the Flash are on the case! Institutionalized homophobia? Not a problem, here come Cyclops and Captain America to tell you why you’re wrong in long, impassioned speeches! Individualized choices about when you let a child into the world bothering His Holiness? Well, here come Sue Dibny and Black Canary to tell you about what it’s like to get raped, and why the future of any child resulting from said rape should lie solely in the hands of the rape victim.

I mean, Jesus, Your Eminence…the world has never just been about you guys and what you believe. There are more of us out here. Many more. But, hey, we all have our own beliefs. In the end, though, where does that get us? What does that leave us with?

As a great man you’d probably want to pray for once said, “All we’ve actually got is each other. You decide what that means.”