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Dear Pope Francis…

Welcome to My Green Vermont - A Blog by Eulalia Benejam Cobb.
By Eulalia Benejam Cobb

I had not held out much hope for the election results, but for about five minutes after the announcement that you would be the new pope I felt a surge of optimism.  I liked it that you had named yourself after everybody\’s favorite saint, who despised the trappings of wealth and authority and got down to bare essentials.  I liked hearing about the small Buenos Aires apartment which you chose over the episcopal palace and where you cooked your own meals.  I could just see you riding the bus to work so you could give to the poor the money you saved by leaving the limo in the garage.  And I liked it that you are a Jesuit, which supposedly means that you know how to use your mind.

But with the second wave of news reports, my optimism faded.  I am willing to suspend judgment on your supposed silence during the military dictatorship in your country.  It can take a long time after such periods to decipher who did or did not do what to whom.  But I cannot get past your opposition to the legalization of gay marriage, nor your opposition to Argentina\’s president, Cristina Fernandez Kirchner, on the grounds that ”women are naturally helpless to exercise political positions….The natural order and the facts show us that man is the being for politics by excellence; the Scriptures show us that the woman is always the support of the thoughtful man and doer, but nothing more than that.”

Above all, I cannot stomach your supposed compassion for the poor on the one hand and your opposition to birth control on the other.  The poor have a lot of needs:  for food, housing, education, honorable work.  But one thing they do not need more of is children.

Can you not see that the Church\’s traditional prohibition against contraception is a remnant from a time when the survival of the species necessitated every woman to give birth as many times as her body could bear?  How can you not realize that in this century the very reverse is true, that the welfare of humanity and of the planet hinges on people having fewer babies?  What do you suppose Christ would say to the desperate mothers and their starving infants if He were walking around the slums of Lima and Port Au Prince these days?

The birth control prohibition, back when it had very personal implications for me, caused me to leave the Church.  I had been brought up too strictly to embrace cafeteria Catholicism, the kind that says \”I\’ll use contraceptives but still go to Communion when I feel like it.\”

I\’ve been trying to find a way back ever since.  I\’ve been looking for a chink, no matter how small, that would let me squeeze back into the cloister.  But from what I can see so far, Francis, the stone wall is thicker than ever, and all the chinks freshly mortared.

4 Responses

  1. Amen, Sister! My husband and I call ourselves Buffet Catholics, picking and choosing what we agree with, but ignoring what we dislike. We have visited many other churches, but always return to the comforting rituals of the Catholic Church. I look forward to this Sunday. To celebrate the new pope, Mass celebration will probably include the delicious incense. The clink-clink-clink (for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit)of the chain against the thurible brings more smoke and our sinuses burn, but it smells so good! It's kind of like the Pope…He's so good, once you get past the bad parts.

  2. I wrote a post about the new Pope. Then I read your post about the new Pope. Didn't post my Pope post after all. Your Pope post is too good a post to follow with my Pope post.

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