There’s been a hullabaloo about Pope Francis meeting with Kim Davis, the Kentucky official jailed for refusing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Many progressive people were disbelieving. This pope had said, “Who’s to judge?” when asked about condemning gay people. This pope had expressed compassion for the earth’s downtrodden and blasted big business. They thought, “Someone must’ve duped him!”
It’s probable that an unholy alliance of billionaires and bigoted bishops set up the meeting. Davis’ lawyer is funded by wealthy Protestant Christians who are rabidly anti-gay and also promote anti-contraception, anti-abortion “pregnancy-counseling centers.” Some prominent Catholic bishops have joined Protestant right-wingers to sign a declaration comparing liberals supportive of same-sex marriage to Nazis.
Next to these attack dogs of animosity, the pope’s public pronouncements of caring and concern made him seem almost angelic. But the New York Times and a Vatican press release confirmed the pope’s private audience with Davis.
A wave of outrage from people whose hopes for more compassion had been dashed made the Holy See backpedal rapidly and deny the meeting’s significance.
Millions of people crowded the streets to see Pope Francis on his U.S. visit. Their outpouring was an expression of deep longing for leadership and direction out of the spirit-crushing weight of capitalism and the community-smashing hatreds cultivated by big business to divide people along lines of national identity, race, religion, sex and gender, sexuality and dis/ability.
The euphoria of hope raised by the pope was expressed by one observer who exclaimed, “He’s everybody’s pope — even the atheists.”
Actually, nope. Not everybody’s pope.
Pope Francis heads up a multibillion-dollar global institution that’s historically and inherently anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-lesbian, anti-bisexual and anti-transgender. His statements and his actions continue to uphold those bigotries.
Besides Davis, the pope also met with nuns suing the Obama administration over required birth control coverage in health care. In his recent encyclical “Be Praised,” the pope condemns “techno-science” that provides contraception, obtains abortions for women and enables sex-confirmation surgery for transgender people. He compares those actions to “the nuclear bombs dropped in the middle of the twentieth century.”
Where hope can be found
We who want justice and liberation don’t have to stand on the curbs of city streets to look to a pope for hope.
There is another kind of hope everywhere in the streets and workplaces of the U.S. nowadays.
The dreamers and the doers of the immigrant rights movement raised a tide of hope with nationwide strikes in 2006 against deportation and Homeland Security terror. That struggle continues today.
Now the Black Lives Matter movement has stopped trains in their tracks and shut down superhighways at rush hour across the country to say #NotOneMore lost to racist police and state terror against Black people.
Militant worker organizing is rising — by communication workers from Maine to Virginia; by first-and-second-tier autoworkers uniting in the plants of the Midwest; by low-wage cooks, home-health aides, child-care workers in Birmingham and Atlanta; by women jailed in a Pennsylvania immigrant detention camp launching a work strike for freedom for their children; by teachers in Seattle and school bus drivers in Boston.
On Nov. 7-8, Workers World Party is bringing our hope for a socialist future to a national conference open to all.
We are fighters for a world where the wealth is owned by the people, not by the bosses and ruling class, where work and production is planned to meet human need, not corporate profit. We struggle for international working-class solidarity and the right of every nation to self-determination. We militantly oppose imperialist interventions and wars.
We say, “Workers and oppressed peoples of the world, unite!”
Join us on Nov. 7 and 8 at the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Education Center in New York City.
As the poet June Jordan said, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”
We look to ourselves for hope.