Pope Francis delivers his "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and to the world) blessing from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Dec...
Pool photo by L'Osservatore Romano

This Week in God, 7.2.16

First up from the God Machine this week is a look at Pope Francis finding a brand new way to annoy social conservatives who are offended by the more progressive aspects of his ideology.
Pope Francis said on Sunday that Christians and the Roman Catholic Church should seek forgiveness from homosexuals for the way they had treated them.
Speaking to reporters aboard the plane taking him back to Rome from Armenia, he also said the Church should ask forgiveness for the way it has treated women, for turning a blind eye to child labor and for “blessing so many weapons” in the past.
The pope is known for having frank and lengthy conversations with journalists traveling with him, and that was apparently a doozy. One reporter, for example, noted the recent massacre in Orlando, leading Francis to stress his belief that gay people “should not be discriminated against. They should be respected, accompanied pastorally.”
He went on to say, “I think that the Church not only should apologize … to a gay person whom it offended but it must also apologize to the poor as well, to the women who have been exploited, to children who have been exploited by (being forced to) work. It must apologize for having blessed so many weapons.”
A day later, Bill Donohue, the president of a conservative group called the Catholic League, and himself a fierce critic of the LGBT community, insisted that the pope’s comments had been misconstrued.
“If a Catholic or Protestant or Jew or Muslim has offended a gay person, or anybody, of course they should apologize,” Donohue told CNN on Monday. “But the idea of a blanket apology because you are a member of some demographic group, I mean, I don’t know what church teaching is it that you have a problem with that maybe the church should apologize for?”
Asked if he’d apologize for his repeated criticism of LGBT Americans, Donohue responded, “No. As a matter of fact, I want an apology from gays.”
Also from the God Machine this week:
* Satanists tend to have this effect on local governments: “The city council in Pensacola, Fla., will consider ending the traditional practice of inviting local clergy to deliver an opening prayer at meetings in order to thwart an invocation planned for July 14 by a representative of the Satanic Temple West Florida. City Council President Charles Bare said he will propose that regular meetings begin with a moment of silence instead.”
* NYPD: “A Muslim policeman who sued the New York City Police Department after he was suspended for refusing to shave his beard has been reinstated and the department has agreed to review its ban on beards, his lawyers said on Thursday.”
* And the Supreme Court’s ruling bringing marriage equality to all 50 states was one year ago this week. To mark the occasion, Right Wing Watch highlighted several predictions the religious right made soon after the decision was issued, all of which were hilariously wrong.