In the last few days, along with the drowned Syrian boy, headlines over-joyfully reported how Pope Francis, a real revolutionary, has offered pardon to women who have had an abortion and have repented. The repented part was underplayed a lot, like the tiny clauses at the very end of a long contract (the ones that say that you can get fired if you get pregnant, or sick, which in the US is almost the same thing).
The first thing I thought, as a feminist was: how can you ask me to repent over a choice I made over my own body, if I want your pardon? There’s an adjective problem here: if it’s MY body, why would I want YOUR pardon for doing what I want with it? It’s like saying: I will forgive you for getting a tattoo/haircut/piercing if you repent about it. So, yeah, rationally it makes no sense whatsoever.
But then it struck me: the Pope is the President (or Prime Minister, if we can consider God the King) of the Vatican State, a highly political entity founded on Catholicism, a theocratic state. To be perfectly fair the Pope is a crossing between Khamenei and Rouhani: the Supreme Leader and the President of Iran. The only thing that changes is the religion (they are the evil ones), but everything else is exactly the same.
With one little exception: as limiting, narrow minded and misogynist as their policies may be, the duo Khamenei-Rouhani only rule over their country, and people who don’t agree with their (democratically elected) ruling are free to leave the country and live their life as they please, or oppose it.
Mr Bergoglio may be King in his (tiny) kingdom, but as a shepherd of souls he also rules over those souls who follow him. All over the world. And yes, “it is a free choice and I can’t force everyone not to be catholic because deep down it’s a misogynist religion, like most”, but I would really like to hug all the women who have had an abortion and believe they need forgiveness.
You don’t. You made a choice, and only you (and if you are very lucky your partner) can know if you are happy or not about it, only you can decide if you need forgiveness in the first place and eventually if you can forgive yourself. In most cases, I’d say the majority, you already went through your personal hell while trying to find an abortion clinic or someone who’d perform it withing the legal term, you had to get surgery when you could have taken a pill, you had to face stigma, judgement, nurses and doctors shaking their heads and trying to convince you not to do it.
In 95% of cases, if you had an abortion you are the one who is in the position to dispense forgiveness for how horribly you have been treated. And you totally don’t have to forgive, you have all the right to stay angry and fight for a better world where healthcare doesn’t prefer to help those who want a traditional family.
So, even though I understand how Pope Francis is trying to bang on every door to make sure he gets every little bit of love from all of those who see in him a saint, he is really just a high representative of his State, offering pardon for things that should even require it in the first place.
Fun fact: the “poor Pope” has just gotten his glass lenses changed, he was very clear “only change the lenses, the frame is fine as it is, we don’t need to waste money”. Most Italian journalists praised his gesture. Almost none mentioned that he went to the most expensive shop in Rome (in Via del Babbuino, the 5th Avenue of Rome), no one said if he actually paid for the lenses or got them for free -since the shop got a fair amount of publicity- and again, no one mentioned the massive crowd of curious tourists and photographers on the spot. Shout out to PF: the next time you want to follow the steps of Saint Francis go incognito to a cheap shop in a residential area, or better still, send someone who can’t be recognized. Because right now it look soooo much like this all “let’s save money on unnecessary things” was staged to show how good you are at sticking with your predicaments.