The "People's Pope"

This Is NOT a New Catholic Church

September 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On September 22, Pope Francis arrives in the U.S. Along with meeting with the powerful, he will have well-publicized meetings—photo ops, really—with immigrant workers from Africa and Mexico in New York and encourage their struggle for union recognition, along with other groups of oppressed. He comes to the U.S. having earlier issued a passionate critique of environmental destruction. In a world of extreme inequality, he preaches “the dignity of the poor.”

But despite surface appearances, this is NOT a new Catholic Church. This is a repackaged or re-branded church, a church refitted to both regain and bolster its waning influence, and—for all the pope’s supposed speaking out—to actually lull people into acceptance of the world as it is.

The Real Hell We Live In... and the Church

The fact is, most people on this planet do not need to read the lurid make-believe nonsense of the Book of Revelations to learn about hell—they live it right now.

The 10-year-old Paraguayan girl raped by her stepfather and forced to carry the fetus to term because of the Church’s power—that is hell. The parent who sends their child across the desert or onto a crowded smuggler’s boat on the high seas because there is no work or food, and their country is ravaged by either the gangs or the army—that is hell for both parent and child. The little boy or girl in Yemen who picks up a U.S.-made cluster bomb designed to look like a toy and gets blown apart—that is hell. The parent of the youngster blown away by police because he “fit the description,” or “seemed threatening”... the immigrant, desperate for work and barely surviving... the prisoner, whether innocent or driven into crime by a criminal system... the young gay boy or girl bullied and shamed into suicide, or even abused and killed by those acting out the moral code of the Bible... or the young wife in Africa or Asia dying of AIDS while her children watch and wonder what will become of them (and where a simple condom, the distribution of which is opposed by the Church, could have saved her life)... they all know hell.

In THIS hell that humanity lives in—some of which is directly caused by the Church and all of which it serves to sustain—Francis comes to offer a false solace—that if you fundamentally accept this order and work for modest reform, the Church will support you. Yet these reforms are nothing but paint jobs in hell—a real hell in which the Church is not only complicit, but one of the architects of a chief pillar.

Available now as an eBook! Purchase from your favorite online vendor:, iTunes, Barnes & Noble,, IPG, Kobo

Order the print edition now.
Publisher: Insight Press

Why should anyone applaud this? What is needed is revolution—doing away with this hell called capitalism and a world in the here-and-now where people could actually work and struggle together for the common good... for a world WITHOUT exploitation and one group of people oppressing another... for a world in which people are not kept ignorant and fearful but have access to knowledge and a means for really understanding and acting to change the world.

THAT the pope will not have. He has proved it through his complicity with a fascist junta in Argentina in the 1970s and 1980s, at best distancing the Church from those who were resisting. But that—emancipation, not consolation—is what we need.

Re-branding the Church in a World in Crisis

To understand the re-branding of the Catholic Church through Pope Francis, you need to look at why he was elevated to pope. The Catholic Church is an institution in crisis within a world in crisis. Today most Catholics live on two of the most impoverished continents: Africa and Latin America. These are regions of the world where the workings of capitalism-imperialism create the most hell for the most people. These are places where the imprint of slavery, genocide, and colonial plunder (in old and new forms) is an everyday thing. In sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, fully 40 percent of the people do not have access to the basic essentials of life: food, clean water, clothing, shelter, and the average person lives to age 46 (while people in countries at the other end of the spectrum of global inequality live decades longer).

At the same time, the Church itself has come to be seen as characterized by endless scandals over the sexual abuse of children, appearing to care more about the privileged elite than the oppressed, and looking and acting as if not much had changed since the Dark Ages. In the U.S. and Europe, where many Catholics also live, the sexual hypocrisy of the Church and its flagrant flouting of the law, alongside its draconian edicts against women who wish to control their own reproduction (whether through abortion or birth control) has undercut its legitimacy and relevance.

In the context of a church, and a world, in crisis, the Catholic Church made a call in 2013 to effect a radical makeover. The Church fathers fired the previous, widely hated, Pope Benedict and elevated Pope Francis to be the symbol and leader of a re-branded church.

And Pope Francis is being deployed to not just revitalize the Church, but to play a certain kind of role. First, to promote the traditional Catholic teaching that if people are obedient and humble, if they accept their place in the world and allow themselves to be demeaned as sinners responsible for their suffering, their lives will have meaning and they will live forever after they die. Second, to promote the idea that if people struggle for modest improvements in their lives, the Church will stand with them and speak out on their behalf. Third, that—in the case of those who the Church has almost literally demonized, including women who get abortions or use birth control, gay and lesbian people, and people who get divorced and remarry—there will be forgiveness and compassion... if they repent of their supposed sins.

The So-Called Mercy of the Pope on Women Is Degrading and Outrageous

The pope is being hailed for supposedly enlightened and merciful changes in the Church’s position on women and LGBT people. Space does not permit us to get into all the hypocrisy and misrepresentation involved in this myth, and all the self-deception in which people who believe it are engaging. In all these cases of his so-called mercy, let it be noted, Francis is still insulting people as sinners needing to repent—the only difference being that if they are sincerely repentant they will be welcomed back into the Church.

But let’s take one example: abortion. Recently the pope announced a year of mercy and said that women who get an abortion but sincerely repent and confess to their priest may, after a year, be allowed to take communion.

Mercy? Repentance? Are you fucking kidding?

In fact, 47,000 women every year die from botched abortions, in large part due to the Church’s relentless efforts to keep or make abortion illegal. 47,000. What if the Church were to line 47,000 women against the wall? Picture them, like women you know, from all the different countries, people with lives and dreams and work and love. Then think of them murdered, one by one, nearly a thousand every week. And not just one year, not even just one decade—but for centuries. This “people’s pope” is soaked in the blood of women, from his shoes to his scarlet vestments. His profession of concern is oily insult on top of raw, unspeakable, repeated injury.

Countless more millions of women are forced to bear children against their will, due to the Church’s opposition to birth control. Again—for centuries.

No woman, anywhere in the world, has anything to repent to the Catholic Church for. And no thinking person, anywhere, should fall for the sick hype about the “people’s pope.” Vindictiveness wrapped in professions of concern and mercy is still vindictiveness.

As for the Church itself? It can never atone for the suffering it has enforced and the ignorance it enshrines, every single day, vindictively and without apology. The day when all tradition’s chains on all humans—including the ideological hold and all-too-real chains of the Catholic Church—have been shattered and buried will be a truly joyous one.

People don’t need a makeover of the Church. We don’t need some guy in medieval pajamas alternately dispensing mercy and condemnation, telling us he is with us while he tries to smooth over and cover up the howling horrors of this system... giving consolation to the slave to make slavery tolerable, rather than leadership in a fight to do away with slavery... wagging his finger at the destroyers of the environment while legitimizing their right to power.

We need a revolution. And we need it as soon as possible.


Volunteers Needed... for and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.

REVOLUTION AND RELIGION The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion, A Dialogue Between Cornel West & Bob Avakian
BA Speaks: Revolution Nothing Less! Bob Avakian Live
BAsics from the Talks and Writings of Bob Avakian
Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal)
WHAT HUMANITY NEEDS Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism
You Don't Know What You Think You 'Know' About... The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation Its History and Our Future Interview with Raymond Lotta
The Oppression of Black People, The Crimes of This System and the Revolution We Need