Politrix: The Pope is Coming to America…

…and he’s “very happy to be here!” (Don’t front: you know you love Eddie Murphy as much as I do.) Yup, today marks the first day of Pope Benedict XVI’s whirlwind six-day tour of, um, America I guess, if D.C. and NYC count as the best representation of this country. So get ready for Popemobile sightings and taking over both the Nationals’ and Yankees’ stadiums for Mass.

The thing is, I don’t give a damn. It’s not that I’m anti-religion, or anti-Catholicism, or even anti-old-white-guy-dressed-in-funny-robes-and-pointy-hat. Hell, my mama is Catholic, and I’m saved (shouts to the Protestants chillin’ here at Parlour!). It’s just that I can’t muster enthusiasm for the arrival of a man who, as the face of the Vatican, seems to be deeply out of touch with the realities of life in the 21st Century. There’s something to be said for religious guidance that is relevant and realistic, and this pope, with his deep roots in academia and extra-literal reading of the Bible, just isn’t delivering the goods.

Prime example: When he visited Brazil last May, Pope Benedict XVI told 185 million Brazilian Catholics that they will go to hell for using condoms to prevent the transmission of AIDS. What’s next—holding hands will give us cancer?

“The world needs clean lives, clear souls and pure minds that refuse to be considered mere objects of pleasure,” he said during Mass in Sao Paulo. “It is necessary to say no to the elements of the media that ridicule the sanctity of marriage and of virginity before marriage.”

Word? Did he look around even a little bit during his stay in Brazil? In a country full of hot boys and girls, how are folks supposed to resist the pleasures of the flesh? Even the most optimistic among us realists know that eschewing condoms is not the answer.

Then there’s the fact that he advocated for the excommunication of Mexican politicians who voted to make abortion legal. I’m not going to delve into the abortion issue right now, but I will say that this is a prime example of why Church and State need to stay in their own lanes. Personal religious beliefs should get absolutely no play in the realm of the law (and vice versa)—just look where mixing the two got us in this country…

And have you heard that the Vatican issued a new set of deadly sins, for which violators are doomed to burn in hell unless they confess and do penitence? Yeah, so in addition to avoiding pride, greed, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony and sloth, the pope and the Apostolic Penitentiary (a fitting name for the Vatican group that issues decisions regarding conscience and absolution) wants Catholics to abstain from amassing a personal fortune, having (or abetting) or performing an abortion, polluting, dealing or taking drugs, genetic engineering, being a pedophile and causing social injustice. Now I don’t necessarily advocate any of these things (hell, I abhor a few of them), but seriously? So now I’m condemned to the raging inferno because I forgot to toss my Odwalla bottle in the plastic bin?

This is not to mention his statements regarding Islam, which, sadly, are not at all out of sync with the way many Americans view the religion. During a speech at the University of Regensburg in Germany, he quoted Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus who famously said, “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” While there is evidence to backup the prophet Mohammed’s conquering tendencies, isn’t that like the pot taunting the kettle when history is filled with overwhelming evidence that Christians also like to unsheathe their swords in the name of God?

But it’s whatever. The pope will come, the pope will lecture a few bishops and seminarians, the pope might even kiss a few babies, and then the pope will hightail it back to Rome. It’s up to us whether we want to heed the lessons he leaves behind.


Writer and editor Kenrya Rankin is the very opinionated daughter of a Black Nationalist and wife of a metaphysician (can you imagine what her family dinners are like?!). When she’s not duking it out at home, she’s doing it in print, writing on the shortcomings of American education, how to work inside America’s sucky political system and why we can’t all just get along. She also enjoys telling people what to do, so she publishes pieces in realms as disparate as health, travel, finance, career growth, family and entertaining. Yeah, she’s a busy chick, but she’ll be hanging around Parlour giving you her 13 cents on everything vaguely sociopolitical. Stay up.

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