Tag Archives: Roman Catholic Church

Religion, Politics, and the Catholic Church in 2012

This is just going to be a quick post. The New York Times recently published a piece in the wake of the 2012 US Presidential Election entitled Christian Right Failed to Sway Voters on Issues. It’s a worthwhile read. A few things jumped out at me.

For one, this quote:

“I think good Catholics can be found across the political spectrum,” Bishop Soto said, “but I do think they wrestle with what the church teaches.”

Yep, we have seen this before, when I wrote Being Catholic, Believing Whatever. The idea of a Catholic who believes and acts just as the Catholic church wants is not an accurate one.

Despite this, Mr. Obama retained the Catholic vote, 50 to 48 percent, according to exit polls, although his support slipped from four years ago.

That’s a really weak margin.

In a development that highlighted the diversity within the Catholic Church, the “Nuns on the Bus” drove through the Midwest warning that the budget proposed by Representative Paul D. Ryan, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, would cut the social safety net.

That’s the first I heard of it, but good for those nuns. Lately Catholic nuns have been drawing some ire from the Vatican for taking positions different than the old Italian dudes’. It’s exciting, really; it would be a long time if we had for wait for the funny hats to move the Church forward. Thankfully, every couple hundred years, someone forces the issue.

The younger generation is even less religious: about one-third of Americans ages 18 to 22 say they are either atheists, agnostics or nothing in particular.

Huzzah!

Women’s Suffrage and the Catholic Church

★ Fun fact: With Saudi Arabia giving women a vote in 2015, Vatican City will be the only nation where only men vote.
@mr_atheist
Mr_Atheist

It’s true. According to Wikipedia, there are only three countries that do not let men and women vote equally.

  1. Lebanon requires women to show proof of elementary education before voting, unlike men; men are required to participate in elections.
  2. Saudi Arabia does not allow women to vote, but plans to let them do so in 2015 (this is the latest in a series of delays).
  3. Vatican City (which is its own country, geographically but not legally within Italy) only permits Cardinals to vote. As women are not allowed priesthood, much less allowed to be bishops or Cardinals, they’re out of luck, denied a vote.

There you have it. Pending changes in plans, come 2015, Vatican City will be the only country on planet Earth that only allows men to vote.

So Yes, That Is Why

Women are not allowed to wear bikinis in public in the Vatican. Paper burqas — I mean, paper clothes with sufficient coverage — are available for purchase on the streets.

Do Female Catholics Care?

A tangent, if you will.

Restricting the priesthood to men is an old tradition. Yet the question of gender and priesthood has been discussed by the Papacy at least as recently as 1994, when Pope John Paul II officially declared the Church does not have the authority to ordain women.

Given enough political pressure, these things can change. Consider the recent revocation of the dogma of limbo, for example (the idea of a baby-hell for infants who died without baptism, dropped in, what, 2009?).

So I wondered, do women in the Catholic Church care about their denial of priesthood?

I am not aware of any poll data on parishioners in general. If you are, do please contact me.

But I am encouraged to see some sites cropping up to further the cause.

On the flip side, however, consider Ann Widdecombe, a Catholic, female member of British parliament. When asked in a fantastic Intelligence Squared debate (opposite the brilliant Messrs. Fry and Hitchens; viewable on YouTube) if it bothered her that she was permitted a role in government but not her own Church, her reaction was, to me, unbelievable. She seemed almost shocked or affronted by the question. Quoted below (thanks to a transcript; PDF here).

Zeinab Badawi: Ann Widdecombe, one specific question to you, why not women priests in the Catholic church?

Ann Widdecombe: Well, no, the specific question was, why is it not alright for a woman to be a priest but it is for a woman to be an MP, that’s the specific question. And I have to say to you, that really does betray a vast ignorance. A Member of Parliament, male or female, does not stand in persona Christi at the point of consecration. But I don’t believe that it is any more possible for a woman to represent Christ at the point of consecration than for a man to be the Virgin Mary.

Um, I was raised Catholic. I understand that Mary required a uterus and other reproductive plumbing to, you know, give birth.

But somehow I missed the day in Sunday School they must have explained why a penis is required to consecrate the Host. You know, praying over the crackers to make ’em into bits and pieces of Christ.

How on Earth does one’s gender matter then?

But, whatever. That’s religion for you.

What’s the Harm? Installment #3033: Exorcisms

Exorcisms, which are incredibly still practiced by the Catholic Church and by some Protestant churches, hurt people who are either

  • In need of serious medical or psychological attention, or
  • Gay, and in need of nothing more than being left the fuck alone about their orientation.

I don’t know which is worse.

Craig James has more on this incredible Medieval vestige.

Is it excusable to still be Catholic?

I recently read an opinion piece by a Catholic woman, Elizabeth Scalia, on how she is still Catholic even with her Church in the news almost daily regarding new revelations regarding how so many bishops, archbishops, and the Pope himself have actively covered up and enabled child-molesting clergy.

Before I even respond to her piece, I need to point out that I could never consider it moral to be an active Catholic — one’s donations, in part, are used to pay the families of abuse victims to be quiet, keeping the truth under the rug and the youth in danger.

The question has come my way several times in the past week: “How do you maintain your faith in light of news stories that bring light to the dark places that exist within your church?”

Interesting phrasing; she seems to be quite fond of light/dark imagery. Anyway:

When have darkness and light been anything but co-existent? How do we recognize either without the other?

Ah, that explains the word choice.

It’s a poor analogy and a shameful argument.

Elizabeth seems to be making the argument that we could not recognize how brilliantly great most of the Catholic church is if we didn’t have a few pedophiliac child-rapists with black collars.

I wonder if she would like to explain this reasoning to the victims. I can’t imagine the family from the documentary Deliver Us from Evil Goons would find any comfort here.

Seriously, Ms. Scalia. Stop thinking in metaphors.

I remain within, and love, the Catholic Church because it is a church that has lived and wrestled within the mystery of the shadow lands ever since an innocent man was arrested, sentenced and crucified, while the keeper of “the keys” denied him, and his first priests ran away.

I approve of slavery because it has been practiced at least somewhere in the world ever since a supposedly innocent man was said to have been arrested, sentenced and crucified؟ (Yes, that’s the irony mark, perfect for sarcasm.)

This is your reasoning, Elizabeth? It’s a non-sequitur. The longevity of an organization does not affect the morality of being a member!

Through 2,000 imperfect — sometimes glorious, sometimes heinous — years, the church has contemplated and manifested the truth that dark and light, innocence and guilt, justice and injustice all share a kinship, one that waves back and forth like wind-stirred wheat in a field, churning toward something — as yet — unknowable.

Does this mean anything? To anyone? If anything, it sounds more Taoist than Catholic to me. Again, we have no argument, no reason, and no morality.

The darkness within my church is real, and it has too often gone unaddressed.

This is the core complaint the outside world has with the ranks of the Roman Catholic Church (and other religious organizations with recent sex abuse scandals). It’s not that some church members did horrible things. To err is human, after all. It’s not even that supposedly trustworthy authority figures abused their super-human images (doubt it? Catholic priests use magic to turn wine into blood and sin into absolution!) to the detriment of children. It’s that over and over the people highest up in the church did nothing to stop these crimes from being committed again!

So it seems Elizabeth, too, is aware of the evil of inaction at the top of her Church. Right? Let’s continue:

The light within my church is also real, and has too often gone unappreciated.

Too often for whom?

What real harm came from this supposed inattention?

A small minority has sinned, gravely, against too many. Another minority has assisted or saved the lives of millions.

Elizabeth is now arguing that the net effect of the Church is positive. As an atheist, I would tend to disagree — cough, Galileo; cough, the Crusades; cough, Nazi complicity; cough Northern Ireland — but the claim bears investigation. After all, there are those who work under the umbrella of the Church to do good works.

Like Mother Theresa, right? Except that she didn’t really help people — she was primarily an anti-contraception activist and self-promoter who caused more poverty and misery than she ever solved.

But surely the other missionaries Elizabeth alludes to have bettered mankind? Valerie Tarico has written a fantastic examination of this claim. It’s not so clear-cut as many would think. Missionaries’ main goal isn’t to help in this world. It’s to convert followers, which they do by tying aid to religion (the modern way) or killing those who don’t convert (the old way). Forced conversion. A direct violation of human rights.

Wouldn’t it be more ethical to give money to a secular aid organization? You know, one that doesn’t have a long history of forced conversions and child abuse cover-ups?

So now, Elizabeth has only successfully argued for trading in a Roman Catholic rosary for a Red Cross receipt.

But then, my country is the most generous and compassionate nation on Earth; it is also the only country that has ever deployed nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

Debatable! Ah, the arrogant patriotism of a U.S. citizen.

And does she really mean to say that we must support warlike activities if we want to be compassionate? Does she truly believe sending one’s taxes to a government that doesn’t bomb civilians to be no more moral than the alternative?

My government is founded upon a singular appreciation of personal liberty; some of those founders owned slaves.

And look at the progress we’ve made. She doesn’t have much of a point here, if we consider than any good of the Catholic church (e.g. aid) can be had without the huge negatives (e.g. child rape). And it can.

The rest of her piece is no better. She talks more about child abuse.

But she completely misses the point.

Until the cover-ups stop, it’s unethical to be a Catholic.

Pope Benedict XVI more closely tied with sex abuse

A lot of you know that Pope “Palpatine” Benedict “led Vatican investigations into abuse for four years before assuming the papacy in 2005.” You may know that he makes a habit of [p2p type=”slug” value=”pope-benedict-xvi-more-closely-tied-with-sex-abuse” text=”not addressing these issues”]. Pretty incredible, considering the intentional cover-ups and reassignments of acting pedophile priests that are revealed constantly. But now he is pretending to be unaware of abuses that occurred in his homeland, Germany.

“Nonsense,” said Father Doyle, who has served as an expert witness in sexual abuse lawsuits. “Pope Benedict is a micromanager. He’s the old style. Anything like that would necessarily have been brought to his attention. Tell the vicar general to find a better line. What he’s trying to do, obviously, is protect the pope.”

It gets better, too: The super-conservative Catholic church is idiotically maintaining that its mandatory celibacy for priesthood has no influence on child abuse & child rape (AP).

I feel so ashamed that so much of my extended family places their trust, faith, and money in the hands of this evil, corrupt institution!

More here on the New York Times, which is where today’s quotes are to be found. Hat tip to @vjack for first covering this.

Pope Still Ignoring Catholic Child Rape

Absolutely disgusting, the callous insensitivity the evil Catholic Pope has.

If you haven’t seen the documentary Deliver Us From Evil Goons, do so. It makes the abuses of the Catholic leadership personal, as it documents, in particular, the effects paedophile priests have had on one family.

The following is an excerpt from Vatican heaps insult on injury for Irish abuse victims from the National Secular Society.

The Ryan Report found the Catholic Church and Irish government covered up almost four decades of sexual abuse and beatings by priests and nuns on thousands of children in State care. And the Murphy Report unveiled a catalogue of cover-ups by the Catholic hierarchy in Dublin to protect the Church. But in a Vatican statement, the Pope specifically failed to acknowledge the cover-up or formally apologise for the abuse. The Pope also failed to sack under-fire Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan – or even formally accept the resignations of other bishops, who were criticised in the Murphy Report for their mishandling of cases of sexual abuse. We understand no bishop or higher-ranking Catholic prelate has ever been laicised (sacked) for active or administrative misconduct over child abuse.

Ratzinger also ignored the failure of the Papal Nuncio to co-operate with the Murphy Commission’s investigation into abuse in Dublin.

[The] Pope had told the bishops the sexual abuse of children and young people was not only a heinous crime, but also a “grave sin that offends God and wounds the dignity of the human person created in his image”.

The … Pope had also told bishops that the “weakening of faith” was a significant contributing factor in the phenomenon of the sexual abuse of minors.

Maeve Lewis, of support group One in Four, said the Pope’s response was inadequate. “It is deeply insulting to survivors to suggest they were abused due to failures of faith, rather than because sex offending priests were moved from parish to parish, and those in authority looked away while further children were sexually abused,” she said.

Update: See also [p2p type=”tag” value=”pope-benedict-xvi-more-closely-tied-with-sex-abuse”]

We’re Hiring!

The last few decades, the Roman Catholic Church has been whining about a decrease in “the vocations,” or candidates for the priesthood (and sisterhood — gotta maintain equal opportunity!). I decided to help them out by “reposting” their newest job opening:

We’re Hiring!

What: A small parish seeks a full-time reverend.

When: As soon as you finish seminary.

Job Perks: The Church treats Her men well. Here are just some job highlights:

  • We provide tax-free income and a house.
  • Variable job pay — guilt your flock into putting more into that basket whenever you want. Just send 50% to your Bishop and our holy father the Pope.
  • Swing elections however you want to — you can’t officially endorse politicians or parties, but you can dedicate whole homilies (that’s what we True Christians call our sermons) to key issues of the election.
  • Listen as real people confess their darkest sins to you!
  • A “Don’t ask, don’t tell” pedophilia policy. Additionally, we can transfer you to another parish, should things get hairy (and your parishioners pay your settlements for you, should the filthy, underage, Satan-loving whores rat you out).
  • The comfiest chair in the building!
  • Little boys (and girls) hold your books, light the candles, and bow to you.
  • Hundreds to thousands of people will bow, kneel, chant, or sing when you tell them to.
  • Everyone thinks you can turn crackers into Jesus’ body … and you’re not an alcoholic, you’re a bloodaholic! Which doesn’t exist — you can’t get too much Jesus.
  • Goddess worship, kinda like the Pagans. And an alibi: Mary’s no god, she just intercedes for us.
  • A rock-solid, Constitutional excuse for your homophobia.
  • Wear essentially a dress without cross-dressing (no pun intended).

Necessary Experience: Most have an easy time meeting our humble needs:

  • An ability to alternately scare the death out of folks and convince them you’re their best friend
  • An ability to keep a straight face while invoking “magic” that never works
  • An ability to get up on time most days.
  • (No proof of two-way conversations with God required)

Inquire within… your soul.

Pope Palpatine

I recently noticed a distinct lack of a page with a comprehensive list of “Pope Palpatine” images, so I compiled this one. (If you know who created these, or if I missed a good one, let me know.)

And just so you Catholics don’t accuse me of being needlessly “militant” (ha) you should note that I have many legitimate beefs with this guy, his predecessors, and the religion of which he is the dictator (and in which I was raised).

Pope evil children.jpg


pope lackoffaith.jpg.jpeg


pope_looks_like_palpatine_02.jpg.jpeg


I find your lack of faith disturbing.


pope-benedict-palpatine.jpg.jpeg


pope palpatine 2.jpg


Sometimes illusions can be quite close to the truth!

Bonus: Catholic Cardinals heiling Herr Führer.

NaziPriestsSaluteHitler.jpg