In an official apostolic exhortation on holiness issued Monday morning, Pope Francis, Vatican City’s original bad boy, decreed that issues of poverty, migrants’ rights, and the elderly and infirm are just as important as the “defence of the unborn,”—a righteous subtweet of America’s allegedly Christian (but not Catholic!) Republican party, which will surely be triumphantly mangled, misinterpreted, or outright rejected with a #NotMyPope.
“The other harmful ideological error is found in those who find suspect the social engagement of others, seeing it as superficial, worldly, secular, materialist, communist or populist,” the 103-page teaching document entitled “Gaudete et Exsultate” or “Rejoice and Be Glad” (i.e., lengthy blog post posted on his blog, Vatican.va) reads. “Or they relativize it, as if there are other more important matters, or the only thing that counts is one particular ethical issue or cause that they themselves defend. Our defence of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm, and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development.”
“Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection.”
The Pope immediately loses me with his full-throated, iconically Catholic defense of the unborn, sure, but that second part feels good. He continues:
We often hear it said that, with respect to relativism and the flaws of our present world, the situation of migrants, for example, is a lesser issue. Some Catholics consider it a secondary issue compared to the “grave” bioethical questions. That a politician looking for votes might say such a thing is understandable, but not a Christian, for whom the only proper attitude is to stand in the shoes of those brothers and sisters of ours who risk the lives to offer a future to their children.
Drag them, Papa!
Since Pope Francis ascended to the highest throne in Christendom in 2013, he has pushed to broaden the realm of actions deemed “forgiveable” by the Catholic Church, leading to a reputation as the relatively Chill Pope: In 2013, he said it is “not necessary to talk about [abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods] all the time;” he’s urged priests to be more accepting of divorced, gay, and lesbian Catholics, and bestowed priests with the ability to “absolve” people involved in an abortion. (Like I said, relatively chill.)
But he’s been unwilling to completely blow up the intolerant bedrock upon which Catholicism has been built wholesale. Of homosexuality he’s said, “One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies,” while upholding a policy that bans “persons with homosexual tendencies” from becoming priests. And while he has brought up the need for “the feminine genius” within the Church, he doesn’t think women should become priests either.
Anyway, Monday morning he tweeted this:
Okay, shady legend!