If I had to describe the mass euphoria of the second living Pope reign, I would choose the phrase "sales marketing." Never in its modern existence, the Roman Catholic Church was so focused on deceit and ambiguities just to cater for a higher number of current and possible consumers. We used to know where the Church stands on certain issues which made a dialog with known heir. But there's now a shift towards a weird hybrid of Buddhist belief in vagueness that yet still maintains the overreaching top leader, who is undergoing midlife crisis.
Of course, most of the people do look favourably towards Pope Francis. What's not to like - a modern, non-hating, not judging man riddled with populist urban stories of being a bouncer at a nightclub and might actually having engaged into coitus since he had a girlfriend before getting his conviction. Bolivarian approach towards capitalism and the poor also adds a flavour of down to earth sentiment. It's the perfect pope for those dissatisfied with the old rule of Catholic nomenclature. We witnessed a historic change in acceptance of homosexuality, a reminder to everyone that Catholicism doesn't rally against evolution (something most of the educated ones already knew a long time ago) and a demotion of malicious Cardinal Raymond Burke which signals seriousness of aims to modernise.
Let's assume for a moment from what I've just said prove that the Pope is in fact a truly great man. I've never had a chance to become officially excommunicated thus meaning the channel of direct chinwag with the God, marrying in a Church, and getting salvation is still open for me. I ought to say, fortunately, only one of these privileges could be truly useful, so no real urge for now. But wasn't the incredible liberal pope sent to us just for the purpose of bringing godless heathens and bastards of the tribe such as myself back to the loving pastoral care? No matter what, I still don't want to embrace my inner Catholic, just as other devout people across the globe who are flying Roman Catholic Church even in deeply religious Latin America, not to speak about European counterparts. It's clear that the cult of tolerant Pope isn't delivering the change it anticipated.
All attempts to sell religion using smartphones' marketing techniques deserve to be treated with mockery. Creating a product with a thought that it will create demand by itself is plainly absurd when it comes to religion. Shift on homosexuality, as an example, mostly concern those who look the Church from political dimensions as something that should be universalised and transformed into big brother organisation with all followers ascribing to certain ideals yet retaining the right by the Dear Leader to change those principles. However, for a modern Catholic, shift on homosexuality isn't a big challenge to his faith - he most probably haven't even cared enough to judge it in the first place. For someone close-minded and one-step away from biblical literalism, even with change in the Church's attitudes, nobody prohibits to stomp the Bible and quote the contradicting passages and utter the unscrupulous American import "Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!"
The paradox of total supervision yet inability to swing the thinking of the masses brings me to palpable changes in Pope Francis papacy. Day by day, he's turning into a radical salesman of the religion who tries to manufacture inconsistencies in faith, use it, and sell it to as many as he can before expiration date. Recently, there was a huge flow of media statements by the Church claiming erratic visions of the future. Firstly, Catholicism became the original Jesus' religion - love thy neighbour and transparent type of creed, where victims of sexual abuse, at least finally, got an apology from the Pope himself. Later, it remembered the weird parts of the bureaucracy and faith, consequently giving a blessing to savage practice of exorcism. The peak of shifting sides reached tens of days later, on On 15th of November, when the Pontiff waived the self-coined value of no judging and gave the same speech as every of his predecessor did with a dulling message: abortion is wrong, strictly because it's a murder, therefore we should continue to deny the right to choose. He did almost identical speech last year in September to a number of religious doctors commanding them to refuse to perform abortions and repeating the mantra of "throw-away culture."
Now, what should we make of this? Where does this exactly Church stand? If it became a lair for lenience, how does one explain the stance on abortion then? If the Church is still a stronghold of traditions, what's the deal with accepting homosexuality?
I've always said, having the church with open and strict dogmas is healthier for all sides than vague, universal department store where everyone can choose a piece they prefer. A church that is self-reflective is admirable and should expect nothing less than a degree of respect. Then one tries to whitewash the past, it mustn't ever deserve any of such. Not only this wide-range of spiritual items ready to choose cheapens all the crimes committed by the church, it also provides a dreadful excuse for its misgivings. I can envisage a sound bite spreading among the line of "Look, we don't really preach that anymore, that's just a bad apple in a bunch. We are OK."
I dismiss the unfounded claim that there's a culture war in the Roman Catholic Church. A quarrel between reformers and traditionalists have existed since the early days, hence Martin Luther. Due to organisational secrecy, it's highly unlikely to know the extent of inner struggles between two factions right now, however, three points must be taken into account. Firstly, we all know at least few open-minded priests, bishops, and other high-ranking officials, just as we know those who we ought to rightly despise a bit more. Dissenting views are possible notwithstanding the whip of the Pope. Secondly, nobody even dared to propose under Pope Benedict's rule that there's a clash of cultures inside the church, thus reinforcing the first point of possible casual disagreement. Finally, the Pope himself utters the contradicting views on issues, not by power-hungry individual initiative of other officials. If such internal struggle does in fact exists, it's unlikely that both factions would speak through one single voice.
It's clear that the Pope is deliberately trying to turn to the most universal church in the world, giving the believers ability to choose bits they feel keen on. But it's a fraudulent, new-believers seeking, strategy which doesn't really pardon the Church for their misery caused by the dogmatic beliefs. And sorry to break it, but apology won't cut it.