Rules are for Schmucks: Talk is Cheap; Praise Abounds

Photo by Edgar Jiménez via Wikimedia Commons

Imagine a politician who makes gorgeous promises about all the reforms he’s going to implement. But, ten months later, look at his record, and see that he hasn’t lifted a finger to do anything at all that he promised. In fact, he’s caught red-handed doing exactly the opposite.

Does the press treat this fellow as a hero, or a bum?

Well, it depends. Normally, he’d be scorned as just another hypocrite. Unless he wears a tall pointy hat, and calls himself Pope Francis. That’s because the rules for God experts are different from the rules for the rest of us.

When Jorge Bergoglio was elected pope last March, he mounted a brilliant PR campaign that the church would become a kinder, gentler institution more concerned about the welfare of the poor than about what consenting adults do in bed. A change that might actually help make the world a better place.

Talk is better than nothing, without a doubt. Especially for those who lack the power to act. Bergoglio, though, is one of the few people on the planet who has the power to actually accomplish change, all by himself, with the stroke of a pen.

Ten months in, what’s the number of canon laws, catechism elements, or other church doctrines that Bergoglio has actually changed? Zero. Obama at least can blame Congress for not letting him do what he wants, but Bergoglio doesn’t have a Congress. He’s an absolute monarch – even more than that, an absolute monarch who holds himself out as God’s mouthpiece on earth. If he were to say “Homosexual activity just isn’t a sin, period – sorry we misled you all these years,” then positive change in the world would actually happen.

Instead of doing that, he plays the typical politician’s double game. While basking in the glow of Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” award for doing precisely nothing (as opposed to someone like Edward Snowden, who believes in action rather than words), Bergoglio was secretly instructing his bishop in Malta to do everything he could to block legislation permitting gay couples to adopt children. The welfare of children stuck in orphanages be damned – official Catholic doctrine is at stake here!

The astonishing thing is that any of this comes as a surprise. The most cursory examination of Bergoglio’s record would reveal that he was head of the Jesuit order in Argentina all during the horrendous rule of General Videla and his band of sadists. The Jesuits, both historically and still today, are not just run of the mill clerics. They pride themselves on being the “tip of the spear,” the intellectual elite of the entire church. If you believe that the head of the Jesuit order in Argentina was clueless about all that was going on – the torture, the mass murder, the theft of infants to place with loyal Catholic families – then I’ve got a hot penny stock to sell you.

In fairness, that’s just speculation, with no direct evidence linking Bergoglio to any particular atrocity. What’s not speculation, though, is that after Argentina’s humanists finally kicked out the generals (with a big assist from the British navy), they put together a “truth commission,” the “National Commission on the Disappeared,” to put as much as possible about what happened out in the open so that future generations can learn from it.

What did Bergoglio tell this commission? Nothing. He refused to talk. Probably a smart move, career-wise.

A decade later, after the fury immediately following the fall of the generals had died down, a Canadian historian elaborately compiled oral histories of the period from leaders on all sides. What did Bergoglio tell her? Nothing. He refused to talk. Loose lips sink ships.

None of this fazes Time Magazine, the press in general, or other opinion leaders. As Gregory Paul points out, “the news media is as it often does is buying into a storyline that boosts ratings, so they conveniently stick to it without checking the objective facts that is supposed to be their job.” The rules of conduct that apply to God experts are different than the rules that apply to you and me. Rules are for schmucks – God experts do what they want.

Click here to read all of Luis Granados’ Rules Are for Schmucks series.