[Sometimes progress doesn't always last. His Holiness Pope Francis has issued another letter to women, and sadly, he's retracting the apology he wrote earlier.]
Dear women –
I am from Buenos Aires, and as everyone knows we Latin men are hot-blooded. I do not chase the ladies – I am a priest, after all - but I am quite excitable. I know this about myself, and so when I was a young man I made a rule that I’ve always tried to follow. Whenever I get excited about something, I try to wait for 24 hours before I act. This is to stop myself from doing anything stupid. Well, I was so excited, so thrilled when I heard the voice of God talking to me that I forgot my rule, and now I am having second thoughts. I am having doubts.
As you know, I thought I had a visitation from God, and He told me he wanted me to apologize to you and ask forgiveness. Which I did on my Facebook page, right away because of my excitement. Also because He gave me a very short deadline and I wanted to get started pronto.
But now I am wondering. What if it was all in my mind? Maybe I had a little stroke that caused me to think I heard the voice of God. The church has a long history of believers having visions, and we usually make these people saints. You have to wonder, though, how many visitations and visions are really the result of mental conditions, like strokes and schizophrenia, that have nothing at all to do with holiness.
There’s also the possibility that I hallucinated talking to God because I am an ambitious man, and what could satisfy the ambitions of a pope more than a visit from The Big Guy Himself, The Man Upstairs, the only One in the universe who has more moral authority than I do? A priest must have ambition to get anywhere beyond St Nobody’s Church in Nowheresville. How else do the right men climb the organizational ladder? But too much ambition can lead men to do really stupid things. And I very much fear that publishing an apology to you, dear women, was a really stupid thing for me to do.
To figure out what I should do next, I needed to understand if God did indeed visit me, and so I asked Him to visit me again, or at least to send me a sign to show me that His visit was real. You know what I got from Him?
The only thing for me to conclude is that either something happened in my brain, or my ambition was driving the bus. And knowing myself as I do, I’m thinking it was ambition, and that makes me angry. How can I be an effective pope if I do stupid things like hallucinate a visit from God to make me feel more important?
I need to rein in my ambition before I do any more damage. Lucky for me, the church has a long history with ambitious men who needed to dial it back. The favored method was self-mortification, and that’s what I’m counting on to get me back to being a good pope and not a megalomaniac.
Self-mortification can mean anything from skipping dessert to starving yourself, from wearing a shirt made out of horsehair to whipping your back with a scourge until you’re bloody. I want fast results, so I’m going to use multiple methods.
It used to be that finding a hair shirt or a scourge was easy, but not anymore. People are no longer interested in torturing themselves, and so the local stores don't carry such things. Lucky for me, the Vatican saves everything, and there are many, many such items in our museum. So I asked the museum director if I could see these items, and then I picked out several that I wanted to have displayed in my study. The director thinks I just want to look at them, but really I plan to use them on myself. To use the pain of whipping my back along with wearing a hair shirt, along with not eating, to help me find my way back to humility.
I want no more of these 'visitations.' It is enough that I serve God - I do not need to talk to Him.
And so, dear women, this is all to say to you that I retract my apology. There are so many Catholics who want change! Like homosexuals who want communion and marriage, and transgender people who want everything everybody else has, and celibate priests who want to marry, and nuns who want more autonomy, and married people who want to divorce, and divorced people who want to marry, and women who want birth control - you are just going to have to get in line and wait your turn!
I’m sure the church will change eventually, and then you will get your equality. But it’s going to take a while.