No sooner did the waiting hordes of reporters spy white smoke rising over the Sistine Chapel than the media channels were overwhelmed with huffing and puffing. Sure, Pope Francis at least wasn't a European - but he was still a he. And white, at least to look at. And most definitely old. Bad, bad Catholic church!
What's worse is the fact that Pope Francis' views offer almost point-by-point continuity with two thousand years of dogma. Horror of horrors, the new Pope thinks priests should remain male and 100% celibate; that marriage is purely for heterosexuals, sex is only permitted in marriage, and contraception is a sin, to say nothing of forbidding abortion. Homosexuality is still the abomination that it was last week.
The underlying problem is that our modern media elites have no clue what religious faith is or means. To the extent that they recognize religion at all, they condemn and ridicule it. What sort of Pope would have pleased the punditry of the Puffington Host? None less than Rosie O'Donnell, the foul-mouthed atheist lesbian.
To everyone else in the world, that would be more than a bit odd. Rosie O'Donnell is not a Catholic in any meaningful sense of the word - which is precisely the point.
Why is the media surprised when the Pope turns out to be Catholic? Of course the media would prefer a non-Catholic Pope, because they despise everything Catholics are supposed to believe in and want them to have a leader who'll turn them into something else. It's common sense, just as we'd be happy if Iran appointed Richard Dawkins as Ayatollah or the Palestinians elected a Jew as president of Gaza, but the very idea is preposterous on its face.
We have absolutely no idea how Pope Francis will address the operational problems of his church - ineffective and corrupt governance in the Roman Curia, a clear pattern of homosexual depredations throughout the clergy, and any number of sordid connections between the two. He will also have to tackle a church polity that seems to accept that one can claim to be a devout Catholic while actively working against core Catholic doctrines, as do such famously "Catholic" politicians as Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden. Regarding those doctrines, though, we can confidently predict that official dogma will change not one iota.
How can this be? Because the Catholic leadership, by virtue of being in the Catholic church and leadership, fundamentally believe that their views are God's views and that they do not change. Ever. To the extent that they do on the ground, they are departing from God's documented commands and will, and stand to be punished by Him.
True Catholics are supposed to cling immovably to their beliefs even if the whole world stands against them. Throughout history, countless faithful Catholics and Christians of many other stripes have done exactly that, even unto death.
The Pope and genuine Catholics believe that their positions are ordained of God. Most conservatives don't believe that Thomas Jefferson, Adam Smith or Freidrich von Hayek wrote inspired Scripture, much less Ayn Rand. In that sense it's impossible for us to cling to our views as tightly as the Papacy can.
Still, conservatism's principles are solid, because they can be seen to work in the real world. Free market capitalism leads to wealth, not just for the super-rich, but a far better lifestyle even for the poor than they'd find elsewhere. Socialism leads not just to stagnation and poverty, but ultimately to tyranny and oppression as in the Soviet Union.
Do corporations do bad things? Sure they do, but customers flee and they go bankrupt, replaced by other firms that care more about their customers. Government agencies, in contrast, do bad things with total impunity. Nobody gets fired and you're still stuck having to deal with them.
The pages of Scragged are filled with hundreds of examples of why conservative principles are in fact correct. You don't need to believe they're ordained by God in order to believe they're worth defending and worth fighting for. In like fashion, Galileo was confident enough in his own observations of the astronomical world to resist the horrors of the Inquisition: "Nevertheless, the earth does move."
Why don't our conservative leaders hold to their beliefs as strongly as the Pope holds to his, or at least as strongly as Galileo did? The liberal media doesn't like the Pope but they pretty much have to respect him, which is more than they do for the pusillanimous pussyfooters at the helm of the Republican party.
A few media voices understand that a religious doctrine shouldn't change:
But for all of Catholicism’s problems, the Christian denominations that did not have a Ratzinger [Pope Benedict's name before his elevation] — those churches that persisted in the spirit of the 1970s and didn’t reassert a doctrinal core — have generally fared worse. There are millions of lapsed Catholics, but thechurch still has a higher retention rate by far than most mainline Protestant denominations. Indeed, it is difficult to pick out a major religious body where the progressive course urged by so many of Ratzinger’s critics has increased vitality and growth. [emphasis added]
This writer understands that religion has to mean something in order to be meaningful. The same holds true of a political party. A party has to stand for something before its members can stand for election.
Rand Paul, more power to him, came out grandstanding and fighting for a first-order conservative cause: the revolutionary idea that the President of the United States does not have the authority to order the targeted assassination of any American citizen. How dare any Republican not stand with him? Really, how dare any American?
When Paul stood up to filibuster, the media didn't know quite what to make of it. They really never did figure out how to report the matter, because any way they tried to talk about it made Paul look good, and rightly so.
The recent events in Rome have made one thing perfectly clear: the Pope is, in fact, Catholic. It's time we enforced a similar truism: that conservative leaders and Republicans are, in fact, conservative, and any infiltration to the contrary is as automatically beclowning as the idea of Pope Rosie.
Over the past five years, the editors have been secretly working on a book that summarizes the fundamental viewpoints of Scragged.