Earlier this month, Pope Benedict XVI joined Twitter in an effort to galvanize the faithful and modernize the Catholic Church for a younger, increasingly secular generation, making him the last person after your grandpa to join the social networking site. The Vatican also hired a former Fox News correspondent to bring their communications strategy into the 21st century, since that network did such an impressive job during the 2012 US presidential election.
The Catholic Church is foundering, and it’ll take a lot more than 140 characters and a rightwing "news" hack to put it on a modern track.
The pope is a social issues guy, more interested in themes like "traditional" family values, gay marriage and abortion than, say, helping the poor. And the Vatican is quick to slap down anyone – but especially any women, and particularly women who have the nerve to think of themselves as equal to men – who focuses on helping the most in need, instead of crusading against abortion and gay people. As far as the Church is concerned, advocating for the equal participation of women is "radical feminism" worthy of condemnation; pushing for legislation that kills gay people is worthy of a blessing.
Yes, that’s correct: just around the same time the pope was drafting his first tweet, he met with Ugandan parliamentary speaker Rebecca Kadaga, who had earlier promised to level the death penalty for gays as a "Christmas present" to the Ugandan people (minus, one assumes, the Ugandans who will be murdered because of their sexual orientation). She received a private audience with the pope, and a blessing.
Uganda has been a target for western evangelicals who see that they’re losing the gay marriage battle in their own countries. Religious leaders and rightwing groups, including Rick Warren and the National Organization for Marriage, have gone to Uganda for years to spread anti-gay propaganda and bolster homophobia. These religious leaders position themselves as experts, telling Ugandans that gay people sodomize children, spread Aids, destroy marriage, break up families and pose an imminent threat to society – and then they feign shock when Ugandan leaders decide that the legal punishment most befitting these child-raping, society-crushing individuals is death.
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