Il Papa Don’t Preach

By Bill Maher

Pope Frank continues to be awesome. And also frustrating.

A recent interview with His Holiness revealed that Francis estimates about 2 percent of priests are pedophiles, and he vowed to stop avoiding the problem and instead find a real solution. He even floated the idea that the Church has only been celibate for 900 years, and that maybe this needed some looking into. Ya think? 

But 2 percent? Sorry, but it looks really bad when you describe your organization’s pedophilia problem like it’s a dairy product. Like it’s cottage cheese or low fat milk. “The Catholic Church – now only two percent pedophile!”

Naturally, Vatican officials sashayed the Pope’s statement back, saying that Francis was misquoted. But here's the sad truth: the 2 percent figure has got to be a little low. Two percent comes to about 8000 out of 414,000 Catholic priests worldwide. Eight thousand pedophiles priests – now that’s a terrorist army. 

According to the BBC, “While the incidence of paedophilia as a psychiatric disorder in the general population is not accurately known, some estimates have put it at less than five percent.” But you have to ask yourself: aren't priests more likely to have those urges? We're dealing with a self-selecting group of people who opt to never marry and spend their lives largely among men and boys. I’m just saying -- if you’re a pedophile looking for a job, you might find yourself gravitating towards the cloth. 

Even worse, Pope Frank is avoiding the real solution here. Letting married people be priests is an excellent start, because it would open up the profession to people with normal adult libidos. But the Pope is still inflexible about the one thing that really could solve the problem: End the Church's institutional sexism and allow women to be priests, bishops, cardinals, and yes -- even Pope. As long as the priesthood remains a boys’ club, it will attract people who like boys. 

The Church of England just greenlit the idea of female bishops. A lot of the headlines about this use the word “finally.” And yet we blithely tolerate an ancient, discriminatory Church whose sexist practices enable child molestation. It would outrage us if we saw it in a less venerable organization. I like Pope Frank, but he runs the West’s last great explicitly discriminatory sexist institution, a multibillion-dollar organization that unambiguously denies women leadership positions. No amount of dress wearing can hide that.