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Why should we be grateful for the Pope’s small mercy?

Religion
Women
Pope Francis caricature

Pope Francis recently announced that during the Holy Year of Mercy, priests can forgive women who have had abortions. DonkeyHotey under a Creative Commons Licence

The Pope has declared this to be a Holy Year of Mercy. Bad move, Francis: everyone knows you’d get more enthusiasm for Talk Like A Pirate Year.

Holy Year, which usually happens every 25 years, means the Catholic Church will make it easier to have sins forgiven for a 12-month period. If only I’d known I would have quickly got in some extra sinning last year.

The important thing to understand is this: only a just and loving God would vary on a year-by-year basis how sorry you have to be to break his special rules and get away with not spending eternity in the fires of hell.

Extra good news for women. Francis has thrown into Holy Year a special one-off opportunity to be forgiven for having had an abortion. So make sure you don’t find yourself knocked up after the deadline. You’d have to wait another 25 years for a shot at forgiveness and if you get run over by a bus before that happens, it’s a one-way trip to the lake of burning sulphur for you.

The offer is only open to those who seek forgiveness ‘with contrite heart’. Those who still think they should have autonomy over their own bodies should check their travel insurance documents now.
Hopefully this will all finally lead to a Die Hard film I actually want to watch. Bruce Willis in Die Hard: With Contrite Heart. One man has 24 hours to get the woman he loves (so hard the condom broke) to the abortion clinic and back to the confessional, making sure she’s really contrite before the last seconds of Holy Year tick away.

Spoiler alert: the ex-communication from the church normally offered for abortion doesn’t apply to murder, so if they do miss the deadline she can always have the baby, kill it and then be sorry.
Also I’m hoping for a big plot twist when it turns out Willis’ love interest (casting suggestion: Amy Schumer?) has come pretty close to committing one of the other ex-communicable sins like consecrating a priest without authorization from the Vatican or throwing away communion wafers. Freeze-frame shot as Willis dives across the vestry to catch the Holy Wafers* before they hit the swing-top bin lid.

As I am the official representative of womb-operators (as well as being a comedian I’m also the Media Spokesperson for Abortion Rights UK – you’d be amazed how much overlap the roles have) every journalist and radio presenter has been tripping over themselves to ask me if I’m PLEASED. One even went so far as to ask whether I couldn’t manage a ‘small hooray’.

But any transitory modicum of elation I might have felt at the news that his Holiness has taken one tiny step away from the misogynist medieval attitude that my uterus is any of his damn business is more than swamped by the fury I’m feeling that anyone is still listening to the guy.

He has as no democratic mandate. The Pope is ‘elected’ by a bunch of cardinals who in turn are appointed by the Pope. They’re not exactly a diverse bunch.

He doesn’t represent Catholics, thousands of whom have abortions every year and carry on calling themselves Catholics afterwards. Some have even organized to form a campaign group called Catholics For Choice.

He certainly doesn’t represent women. Everyone is entitled to a view on any subject they want, but seriously. Has he, or any of his cardinals, ever woken up and thought ‘still no period... oh shit, I really hope this isn’t... come on... start you stupid thing...’?

The only mandate he has is that, as several enthusiastic journalists couldn’t wait to advise me, ‘He’s God’s representative on earth.’

Draconian laws, the vast majority of them initially catapulted into force by the political influence of his predecessors, mean that every year over 20 million women have unsafe illegal abortions and thousands of them die. I’m sorry, but in 2015 I need a better justification for that than ‘He’s God’s representative on earth’.

*Sorry: actual body of Christ.

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