Black Smoke, White Smoke, Same Old Bigotry

Moments after the papal decision, one of the first tidbits that surfaces about His Holiness is his active engagement in opposing same sex marriage.


Can’t I have just one small moment of optimism, that maybe this  new fellow will be a generous chap and not a bigoted asshole?

I guess not.

I  had been frantically trying to finish up a small watercolor I had begun last evening, working against CNN and its breathless coverage of the gathering of Cardinals.  Alas pretty Anderson Cooper beat me to the finish line.  

So now, several hours after the election of Francis, I post this little daub in honor of the new pope, hoping against odds he will shy away from the Church’s  traditional  stance of misogyny and homophobia and instead focus on what the Church does best, honoring the poor and the forgotten.

For Francis


Holy Smoke

watercolor on paper

13 by 19 inches


For Clive,


St. Ignatius of Loyola

Peter Paul Rubens

Norton Simon collection, Pasadena, CA

Author: babylonbaroque

I am a painter and printmaker working towards creating a body of work that reflects my own developing aesthetic. New work ,first link. The second link is an on-line portfolio.

15 thoughts on “Black Smoke, White Smoke, Same Old Bigotry”

    1. No I guess not!
      But this might be one of those exceptional moments when a racist stance might reasonably be justified; the Cardinals from Africa and Asia are even more conservative than their continental brethren. My fear was a new non-European pope intent upon appeasing a charismatic base who would wreak even more havoc. That at least was averted.
      I hope to see an old lady upon Peter’s throne, whatever color.

  1. It’s a shame. I thought the name he chose, and that there was no harking back to the past with his choice, showed a bit of promise. But no.

    1. I agree, I had visceral wave of optimism at his choosing the name Francis-the power of marketing.
      I do want to see something positive in this change, so, unlike Conservatives in the States he doesn’t view the poor as opportunistic pariahs but as brothers and sisters, that I am pleased with.
      I hope he can tackle Rome’s metrosystem and eschew the Popemobile.

  2. I think a lot of people have made the assumption that he’s named for Francis of Assisi, whereas as a Jesuit, it seems more likely the choice of name honours the founder of the order, Francis Xavier. Don’t expect the new pontiff to be preaching to the birds any time soon.

    Call me a cynic, but I fear your moment of optimism had about as much chance as the fluffy chick on the conveyor-belt to the mincer. Just saying’.

    Great admiration from here that you turned the occasion of waiting for the white smoke into an art opportunity. Fantastic image, Leonard.

    1. The talking heads, including NYT,keep asserting it is Francis of Assisi, which strikes a contrast to the founder of his order, Ignatius of Loyola. I believe that is the founder of his order, it is telling that I receive much of my knowledge of theology and church history from art, in this case from a beautiful portrait of the saint by Rubens. The painting is held at a local museum and I pay homage at every visit, it is a stunner . I have placed it on the post for you.

      I will, pronouncements of atheism aside, always be a Catholic at heart, I love the saints and want to see Peter’s chair filled by someone worthy. In Pope Francis’ defense he does seem committed to social justice, I can live with his doctrinal bigotry if he actually makes a change for the great masses of disenfranchised.

      In the end, I have a soft spot(so to speak) for Jesuits, I lost my virginity to a Jesuit priest UNDER a relic of blessed Francis of Assisi, Fate goes spinnin’ around!

      1. Of course-just the rather ordinary tale of a deeply depressed teenage gay boy who falls in love with a priest.
        My father was/is very conservative, a military man, Vince was his Army chaplain. They were the same age, both Italian and my father was very impressed by him; he suggested I seek counseling to “cure” my tendencies . Let’s just say Vince cured my anxieties concerning such tendencies. Vince was a great first “boyfriend”, he was a mentor really, but at 17 I fell deeply. He was in his late 40’s, handsome, drove a black Fiat, wore Members Only jackets (it was the 80’s after all). I was smitten.
        So often we only hear of the negatives concerning priests, and I understand fully that he crossed boundaries , I was after all seeing him for counseling. But is was delirious period, I am pleased he crossed those boundaries, I was often suicidal, morose; Vince brought me to life again, my shame dissipated.
        I eventually moved on to young men my own age, but Vince was often in the background, often in company of other young men.
        Many years later I searched Vince out, he is of course much older, I now fear, extremely conservative and sadly, closeted. I sent him an email, but with the whirling scandals I understand why he is hesitant to respond. I’m saddened by that, saddened he may spend his final days in the very place he saved me from.

    2. increasingly more interesting as I dig deeper , Francis Xavier, student of Ignatius, co-founder of the order. So much to uncover, perhaps a painting is in order. Thanks for the prompt.

  3. Weird how the church is so homophobic and yet so full of gay men. Anyway, love that painting though, those spooky masks and the whiff of smoke, surreal, and a touch of horror, just like the church can be!

    1. Hi Phil,
      It is a strange contradiction. Here in the States at least, I think it is a result of Vatican II, at least indirectly. I mentioned that my first “boyfriend” was a Jesuit priest( as was my second).
      Evidently from what they told me the seminaries were full of gay men, after Vatican II there seemed to be an element of optimism for some radical change. The conservative tide of course erased progress and it seems from my very limited experience that these fellows became embittered. My first paramour retreated deeply into the closet, unwilling to be contacted;i assume for fear he would be reprimanded.
      Unfortunate. I love the Church in many ways, but this creepy hypocrisy is troubling to say the least.

      I really like your description of my painting, wonderfully evocative, thank you.

Leave a Reply to babylonbaroque Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: