Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Amoris Laetitia Pt. 6: "Women and Women First"

After the historical confusion with the autobiographical introduction in the last article, the Bear has decided he must put his memories into some sort of reliable chronology to save further embarrassment. Or at least more than is necessary by publishing this disreputable ephemeris. So we shall get right back into Amoris Laetitia.

Another Laundry List of Problems

Paragraph 50 and following are under the subheading "Some Challenges." Of course, AL has already been mostly discussing "challenges," but it is not very well organized. As before, "challenges" are listed almost in bullet fashion without elaboration.

  • parents come home from work exhausted and not wanting to talk
  • families do not share a common table
  • many distractions, including an addiction to television
  • stressed-out families looking to tomorrow, instead of enjoying today
  • drug use
  • gambling
  • other addictions
  • families not helped by "society and politics"
  • violence within families
  • lack of communication
  • defensive attitudes

Pope Francis spreads his hands and asks rhetorically:

There is a failure to realize that only the exclusive and indissoluble union between a man and a woman has a plenary role to play in society as a stable commitment that bears fruit in new life. We need to acknowledge the great variety of family situations that can offer a certain stability, but de facto or same-sex unions, for example, may not simply be equated with marriage. No union that is temporary or closed to the transmission of life can ensure the future of society. But nowadays who is making an effort to strengthen marriages, to help married couples overcome their problems, to assist them in the work of raising children and, in general, to encourage the stability of the marriage bond?

The answer is apparently no one. Unfortunately, this includes the Church. Pope Francis has many ideas in his head, but each seems to be sealed off from one another, and so he cannot see the relationship between one thing and another. It is easy to compile a laundry list of problems, but takes vision to see the connection and propose a solution. Which is always, "make better people," which was once considered the job of the Church. Now it is to "strengthen institutions."

Note that same-sex unions "may not simply be equated with marriage." Things that make the Bear go hmmm... But, then, Bears are paranoid. (It may have something to do with being shot at with rifles all the time. But people do shoot at him with rifles all the time!)

We are still early in the document, however, and the Bear is certain Pope Francis will disclose a sound, Catholic solution to the problems families face. Anyway, to continue:

  • polygamy (not the cute Chloe-Sevigny-in-a-prairie-dress-Big-Love kind)
  • arranged marriages (Dads, completely crazy? Be honest.)
  • living together, either before, or instead of marriage

Francis the False Prophet

Then Pope Francis tips his hand and tells the world what he really thinks:

Surely it is legitimate and right to reject older forms of the traditional family marked by authoritarianism and even violence, yet this should not lead to a disparagement of marriage itself, but rather to the rediscovery of its authentic meaning and its renewal.

Where did that come from? So, the Bear has to ask. Was little Jorge beaten as a child? The Bear doesn't know, but has to wonder how screwed up Argentina really is.

If you always remember what the Bear says, you will never misunderstand Francis: he sees himself as a Prophet, not a Pope. He is not here to preserve and teach from the rich fund of the Catholic Faith. Francis' motto is, "Behold, I make all things new." The past is only provisional, and mostly defective. It is the prophetic office of Francis to bring all things up-to-date according to his personal vision.

The problem is, he may be a true Pope, but he is a false prophet. This is obvious, because by now we know how Francis operates, and it is not the way God operates; in fact quite the opposite. Real prophets are usually reluctant, and they are held in contempt, not lauded. Their message transcends their personal histories, their psychology, and their personal goals. Think of Jonah, who was so reluctant it took a great fish to get him to Nineveh. He half-heartedly delivered God's message, then wanted to die when the city actually paid attention.

Real prophets repeat what the Lord tells them to say. They are careful. They do not talk too much, or speak carelessly, saying things like "who am I to judge?" and "like rabbits." God sometimes requires them to do humiliating things like marry a prostitute (Hosea) or walk around buck naked (Isaiah).

Francis proclaims the end of the "traditional family marked by authoritarianism and even violence." Do these things exist in some families? Of course. But it is not because they are traditional families, it is because they are dysfunctional, or even non-traditional families.


"Portlandia's" Toni and Candace

What list would be complete without women's rights? (Not that this is unimportant, but... well, one has the feeling no "issue" is going to be left behind. (When do we get to Bears? Last the Bear heard it wasn't legal to hunt women with rifles in their own homes. Bear Lives Matter!)

  • unacceptable customs need to be eliminated, like
  • domestic violence and "enslavement" by men (Bear suspects he's talking about the West here)
  • verbal, physical, sexual violence against women

But then here's a gem that makes reading this B.S. worth it for the warm thrill of confusion.* In order to appreciate the word salad in context, the Bear will quote paragraph 54 in its entirety and indulge in some rare fisking.

54. In this brief overview, I would like to stress the fact that, even though significant advances have been made in the recognition of women’s rights and their participation in public life, in some countries much remains to be done to promote these rights. [Eva Peron did more dead than most women are permitted to do alive.] Unacceptable customs still need to be eliminated. [Men opening doors in a non-metaphorical manner.] I think particularly of the shameful ill-treatment to which women are sometimes subjected, [doors] domestic violence and various forms [chapel caps] of enslavement which, rather than a show of masculine power, are craven acts of cowardice. The verbal, physical, and sexual violence that women endure in some marriages contradicts the very nature of the conjugal union. [Sorry, but what do these pathologies have to do with the Sacrament of Marriage per se, which, after all, is your business, holy Father? This is like the transcript from a Stitch 'n' Bitch meeting.] I think of the reprehensible genital mutilation of women practiced in some cultures, [who, Baptists in South Carolina?] but also of their lack of equal access to dignified work and roles of decision-making. [Whoa! Some segue, there! It's like he logged onto a "feminist grievance generator" online and didn't edit it.] History [e.g. Old Testament] is burdened by the excesses of patriarchal [that's why they called them "Patriarchs"] cultures ["and thank you for not mentioning that I am the latest male ruler of a global institution whose every decision is made by men."] that considered women inferior, yet in our own day, we cannot overlook the use of surrogate mothers and “the exploitation and commercialization of the female body in the current media culture." [Surrogate mothers = models. Got it.] There are those who believe that many of today’s problems have arisen because of feminine emancipation. This argument, however, is not valid, “it is false, untrue, a form of male chauvinism.” [Long live Betty Friedan!] The equal dignity of men and women makes us rejoice to see old forms of discrimination disappear, and within families there is a growing reciprocity. [The Bear even hears that in some households, men are allowed to make some of the decisions!] If certain forms of feminism ["like I'm gonna touch that one with a ten-foot pole"] have arisen which we must consider inadequate, [the master of the understatement, no? eh?] we must nonetheless see in the women’s movement the working of the Spirit for a clearer recognition of the dignity and rights of women. [Who knew the Holy Spirit was behind the Women's Rights Movement? Actually, He happens to be behind whatever Francis wants.]

"Okay, Archbishop Fernandez, we've ticked the woman box, what's up next to buff our SJW cred?"

But first, the Bear has obtained the secret URL to Pope Francis' personal blog. This is how he describes himself:

16 / pangender / sex-positive womanist / atheist / animal rights warrior 
fighting hypermasculinity / fighting able-body supremacy / fighting uterus-bearer rights. 
if you're a traditionalist die in a fire. 
please don't talk to me about uterus-bearer rights, weight obsession & uterus-bearer feminism, it's incredibly triggering to me. 
my pronuns are zhe/zhim/zher or ze/hir/hir. 
i am part otherkin/demonkin with some rabbit [?] traits. 
feel free to write to me if you were bothered by some Apostolic Exhortation I issued.

Courtesy tumblr argument generator which you should NOT go to because of very bad language. As in foul, not just Pope Francis' type of bad language, which confuses the One True Church and contributes to the destruction of immortal souls.

Paragraph 54: "After due consideration, I have decided men may stay, as long as they take care of their wives and provide a suitable father figure for their children. But, by and large, guys, you suck." (Hey, better than Bear fathers who walk 100 miles for ten minutes of fun, then walk back home and never even see their cubs.)

Paragraph 56: “biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated.” Sexual differences are important, but just not in "the socio-cultural role of sex (gender)." Or something. The Bear thinks this might be about homosexual unions as promoted by governments and education, but there is some plausible deniability there. "It is one thing to be understanding of human weakness and the complexities of life, and another to accept ideologies that attempt to sunder what are inseparable aspects of reality." Complexities?

Pope Francis has not closed any doors on some sort of recognition of homosexual unions, but the Bear is certain he will do so decisively very soon.

And, finally, not all families are squalid dens of abuse and degradation!

Next time, Chapter Three -- Looking to Jesus: the Vocation of the Family. 

Pink Floyd, "The Wall," track, "In the Flesh," Columbia, 1979


  1. Since you're fisking the Pope, I feel empowerd to make a pedantic comment. It's "The warm *thrill* of confusion".

    I feel better now.

    1. Do you have the U.K. or the U.S. version? Or the promotional "ruby" vinyl version recorded live in Red Square of which only 100 were pressed? Of course, it is usually "thrill" in most, the Bear will grant. To prevent further confusion, he will change it to the more common one.

      But hey, glad that's what you got out of my fervid 45 minutes of typing LOL. Just kidding. Keep the Bear honest. Especially on important thinks like Pink Floyd or Roger Waters lyrics.

    2. US album and movie. I never realized UK was different.

      LOL, the article was funny as usual but since you're asking I thought the fisking in para 54 was a little harsh. Francis is a populist and can't say one thing without condemning something else. He can't praise one group of people without condemning another one. That's just how he thinks.

      If he's worked up about domestic violence, I can't find much reason to disagree. I don't know why he devotes so much time to it, but given that he's a known sports fan, maybe he's been following the NFL?

    3. Well, in the Bear's defense, he is a Bear, and shows incredible restraint. Is it really useful to women's problems in marriage to take the approach of listing "issues," swinging wildly from genital mutilation to greater role in decision-making in the same sentence?

      But, the Bear is glad you derived some enjoyment from it. The Bear never claimed to be anything but a disreputable old show-Bear. (Okay, spy, war hero, friend of Lombard nobles and Harry Houdini, student of St. Corbinian, etc., but you get what he means.)

    4. Re: domestic violence, the Bear sees it as a crime committed by a bad man, not anything having much to do with marriage per se. Wouldn't it make more sense to turn that bad man into a good man? A decent, Catholic husband will not beat his wife or kids. Where the Pope's voice is welcome is in speaking truth about things like same-sex unions, pornography, etc. where the Church is contra mundum. Another voice saying domestic violence is bad is weak for any Pope.

      Anyway, glad you posted, Bernard. The Bear takes his Roger Waters very seriously.

    5. I should also note, that had Francis quoted that song in a footnote, we'd be having a VERY different conversation about the exhortation. (Though "who let all this riff-raff into the room" would be appropriate for a populist.)

      I agree that listing all those ills in the context of a document on family is somewhat tacky. I guess the message is a girl has to take risks if she wants a family, because men will beat her up, or mutilate her or deny her the remote control. Sounds like it's written by a father prepping his daughter for her first date.

      It is true that it's way easier to list problems than solutions (which is why I sigh every time I hear some Catholic conservative start with another rundown of how everything went to hell after Vatican II). On the other hand, have you seen the solutions this Pope favors for other ills? We might be better off if he sticks to problems and general comments about values.

  2. Thanks Bear for bringing a little hilarity to Pope Francis' absurd utterances which most Catholics seem to greet with obtuse sobriety. To me this is clear evidence that there is something very wrong with most Catholics especially the clergy. This Pope of ours should have be run out of Dodge a couple of years ago.

  3. Perceptive and refreshing. Thank you, Bear. The humor does my soul good.

  4. Speaking of surrogacy, yesterday I heard a millennial female on our local public radio station breathlessly announce that "Oregon has become something of an international center for surrogacy. In this five-part series, OPB's Kristian Foden-Vencil explores why this is the case, especially for gay Israeli couples..." It goes into the happy detail that gay couples typically want the surrogate to carry twins, with one egg fertilized with one man's sperm, and another egg fertilized with the other man's sperm, so that each man will have his own genetic descendant.

    Women have sold themselves downriver.


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