We’ve been told to stop being so hostile to the Pope : Pharyngula

We’ve been told to stop being so hostile to the Pope : Pharyngula.

Like the Kings and Queens of old who forced the poor and even not so poor to put them up on their visits to the countryside, the Pope expects people to shell out money and rearrange their entire lives for his visits. Sell off a painting or something. Better yet, get your own all male “household” in order first.


35 thoughts on “We’ve been told to stop being so hostile to the Pope : Pharyngula

  1. Actually, you, and the author are wrong, though I’ll only address yours. The pope is not the one expecting the public to shell out money to see him. It’s the Diocese. And as for your option to “sell a painting, or something”, I guess you sell off the valuable gifts that have been given to you? So somebody gives you an heirloom diamond ring, and you’d just sell it for money? If you would, how crass. If you wouldn’t, then why would you suggest that the Vatican do so? Besides, most of the artwork in the Vatican is held, like any other artwork in any other museum, in the public trust. The Vatican is expected to protect and preserve said artwork for the visitation of the world public. You’d like to sell some, so it can sit in some private living room and be forgotten? If the Vatican was in the habit of selling off artwork or valuables in order to pay off her debts, you can be sure something like this could happen, but the Vatican does not, and will not. Besides, they aren’t Benedicts, by default since he’s the pope. They belong to the 1.6 billion faithful.

    • David

      Are the diocese meeting all the policing and security costs of the papal visit? That will certainly be a heavy burden on someone.

      Now as to being “crass”, I think the way the Roman church has handled its recent travails would provide a much better working definition of that word than anything I’ve seen on this blog. Only today, Benedict’s refusal to accept the proffered resignation of 2 Irish bishops, implicated in the game of priest moving, surely demonstrates total insensitivity to public anger about this matter. Crocodile tears and some rather half-hearted apologies to traumatised individuals and their families, surely shows us a fatally flawed human institution more interested in protecting its own than any example it might set “the faithful”. The message to them from the Vatican would seem to be that anything you can get away with is OK, as long as careers are safeguarded, and the institution preserved.

      Now, it’s possible I’ve totally missed the point, but those in authority within the Catholic Church should not be surprised at the angry incomprehension which greets its leaders complete failure to counter the widely held impression that outward piety trumps criminality.

  2. I believe the local Dioceses, possibly the Bishops Conference, is charging for people to attend, which is to help defray the costs. I am not saying that the people don’t have a right to be upset at the effect of such a visit (for example, I would hate it if ‘my’ president was to visit locally, it would upset everything).

    Reg, what ‘recent’ travails are you talking about? And please, define recent? If you’re referring to the priest’s sex abuse thing, practically none of those are defined as ‘recent’, as in in the past 20 years, and the way the Vatican has handled the problem ‘recently’ is about as effective as the way the US has handled terrorism ‘recently’. As in there are virtually no current cases of the problem, and those that have occurred have been dealt with very well.

    As for public reaction to the whole idea that priests could do such a thing, who’s surprised??? I’m with you on that one. I think the Vatican is a day late and a dollar short in what they’ve done to remedy this thing, and I am appalled. But I think it’s very possible to see how this scourge infiltrated the Catholic Church, and it has nothing to do with how the Church is operated. It happened because of the loosening of morals in the western world, beginning about the beginning of WWII. I won’t launch any long-winded exposition here, it’s not the place. Certainly, the problem, once identified, was dealt with poorly. But I can also say that the Catholic Church handles the problem now better than any large institution dealing with children, for example, the US Public School system, and the Protestant churches clergy in the US. The incidences, as a percentage, are vastly worse in those than they are in the Catholic Church.
    MysteryofIniquity, you’re not alone in being wrong about the church, much of your information is just wrong. I’m just trying to correct and inform, not to try to condemn.

    • David, Last I heard, an opinion is neither “right” or “wrong.” My post was an opinion, of which I have many and I’m sure you do too. I would never presume to say that your opinion based on your facts is wrong, because I don’t know what you think you know and you don’t know what you think I know. We all form our opinions from life experience and what we’ve learned and read and discussed with others. You aren’t privy to my facts just as I’m not privy to yours, thank God. But, I understand. I used to stop my ears at new knowledge once myself as a Christian fundamentalist and also as an Orthodox Catholic convert. And I know how awfully hard it is to admit that you may be wrong about your own thinking. I know how painful it is to be confronted with truth and refuse to see it especially if you see it over and over. And, more to the point, it’s not your job to “correct and inform” me. Save that for other women who believe that patriarchal line. You can give your opinion on this blog, but that doesn’t mean you’re right either. This isn’t a contest. But I appreciate the thoughts. Unfortunately, I’ve heard them all too often before. If you would like to argue points however, you should visit the DeConversion blog to which I’ve contributed. They would love to have you over there. Good luck.

      • OK, excuse me. Your opinion, based on the ‘facts’ you presented are right, it’s the ‘facts’ that are wrong. When “kings and queens of old” visited the country side and expected their subjects to put them up, they were demanding that people who didn’t own the land, but used it at the good will of the king, pay homage, in other words, give them back what was theirs to begin with. Whether that form of government was right or wrong, it was the prevalent government system of the time. I already addressed your opinion that the pope should ‘sell some art or something’. As if the pope owns the art. We aren’t talking about ‘your’ facts or ‘my’ facts, we’re talking about ‘the’ facts. But just because you used to stop up your ears at new knowledge (which is given to us by the grace of God), doesn’t mean that I do. And I don’t. And when I’m wrong, it’s very easy for me to say so. So where am I wrong? Good luck to you, too, in proving that I am wrong.

        • Why David, you know better than I that I will never be able to convince you that you are wrong! Because like God, you are always right. Good luck with that, fellow Kool-aid drinker.

          • I am a man and make mistakes, and I admit them when I make them. If you show me where and how I’m wrong, I have no problem admitting it. God alone is never wrong. Even those who are in His church are fallen humans and commit errors. Fact is, I’ve already stated as much. Nope, no Kool-aid for me, thanks. That’s for you and your circle.

          • If you did something you never thought of…like actually going to the NY Times site and reading all the documents as I have, you will see that Cardinal Ratzinger is actually cleared, actually knew nothing of the incident, that it was actually Monsignior Bertone that dealt with Fr. Murphy’s case…and oh, yeah, this was 13 years ago.
            I speak of the recent past.
            The Catholic Church has done more to protect children than almost any other organization in the United States. Consider:
            Safe Environment training is taking place in 193 dioceses/eparchies of the country. Over 2 million adults have been trained to recognize the behavior of offenders and what to do about it. Over 5 million children have been equipped with the skills to help them protect themselves from abuse. Background checks are conducted on Church personnel who have contact with children. Over 2 million volunteers and employees; 52,000 clerics; 6,205 candidates for ordination have had their backgrounds evaluated. All dioceses/eparchies have Codes of Conduct spelling out what is acceptable behavior. This serves to let people know what can and cannot be done as well as letting others know what behavior can be expected. It encourages the reporting of suspicious behavior. All dioceses/eparchies have Victim Assistance Coordinators, assuring victims that they will be heard. In 2009, $6,536,109 was spent on therapy for the victims of clergy sexual abuse. All dioceses/eparchies have Safe Environment Coordinators who assure the ongoing compliance to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Bishops are meeting with victims. Dioceses/eparchies have Healing Masses, retreats for victim/survivors and other reconciliation events. There is a Zero Tolerance policy on abusers since 2002. When even a single act of sexual abuse by a priest or deacon is admitted or is established after an appropriate process in accord with canon law, the offending priest or deacon will be removed permanently from ecclesiastical ministry, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state, if the case so warrants (CIC, c. 1395 §2; CCEO, c. 1453 §1).4 Dioceses/eparchies require intensive background screening as well as psychological testing for those wishing to enter the seminary.
            The Catholic Church has worked hard to protect children. Much has been done but more needs to be done. Until child sexual abuse is no longer a part of society, the Church will continue its efforts to stop it.

          • 13 years ago or not, Ratzinger is still guilty of harboring criminals and covering up crimes by moving priests from parish to parish. There is no statute of limitations for that in my book. His popiness isn’t above the law as much as you might like to think so. Good try David. Not quite good enough. For every religion there are enablers like you David who create the atmosphere for more crimes to be committed and covered-up. Thanks for your help in furthering that particular “kingdom.”

          • Two words. PROVE IT. It’s just not what the documentation shows. Yet I suspect it will never be enough for you. But go ahead and keep drinking that Koolaid, and ignore the fact that every institution in the world that deals with children in any way has a higher incidence of child sex abuse than does (did) the Catholic Church. And it is a fact. Every public school system, every Protestant church, taken as a whole, is worse than the Catholic Church. Just yesterday an anecdotal incident where an underage girl was raped by a peer, then used to trap the rapist. That’s right, the principal of the school asked the girl to flirt with the guy so they could catch him in the act. No police were called, no authorities involved. And then the rampant incidents of teacher-student sex.
            Look, it’s individual priests that did the misconduct. Dioceses kept things under wraps as much to protect the victims as to protect the priests. Wrongly, I admit. Dioceses also, in many of the cases, informed the authorities of the problem, and what they planned to do about the issue, and were allowed to proceed. This is not to say that the dioceses and priests didn’t fumble the ball, but in most cases, there was no attempt at covering up anything other than the victims. Don’t just believe the media, look at the issue in depth and see.

          • Prove it David. You still haven’t submitted any “evidence” either but people who agree with you. Prove that “every Protestant church, taken as a whole, is worse than the Catholic Church.” Prove “every public school system” is worse than the Catholic Church. You can’t prove it, because you’ve committed a logical fallacy and you don’t even know it. But thanks for admitting what I was showing, Dioceses cover up crimes. Don’t just believe Catholic dogma David. Look at the issue in depth. I suspect it won’t be enough for you either. Why don’t we agree to be “ignorant” in each others’ eyes?

          • Also, regarding Crimine Solicitationies

            It was not with regard to sexual abuse by priests, but specifically with regard to the ecclesiastical crime of solicitation. You can read it here:

            Click to access Criminales.pdf

            It’s a document governing the ecclesiastical prosecution in ecclesiastical courts of priests who commit the ecclesiastical crime of solicitation. It stresses that someone who is witness to the ecclesiastical crime of solicitation is obliged to report it to the competent ecclesiastical authority so that this ecclesiastical crime of solication does not remain hidden. The ecclesiastical crime of solicitation relates specifically to the Sacrament of Penance where a priest in connection with the Sacrament seduces the penitent or allows himself to be seduced by the penitent. It’s not about the sexual abuse of minors as the ecclesiastical crime of solicitation relates only to the Sacrament of Penance and can involve adults as well as minors.

            Has little or nothing to do with the sex abuse crisis. Good try. Not good enough.

          • I believe the media when there’s a decent try at honesty and fact-checking. There’s too much Inquirer-style media out there, now. Too much laziness. When someone is fair and balanced, I’ll gladly give credit, even if it disagrees with what I think. The Catholic Church is simply the biggest organization, and the most honest, because it produces its own data.

          • I never said “everyone” else needs to be enlightened. Everyone needs to be open-minded. But thanks David for being open-minded and willing to be persuaded. I had been as close minded as you at one time and believed what religious folk said. But no longer. I tried it. Couldn’t do it honestly, especially when it didn’t jibe with facts. 🙂

          • See, that’s where you’re wrong, er, your opinion is wrong. I am not closed minded. I think everything is possible with God. I believe abortion is wrong, but that someone who’s had one or done one can be forgiven. I believe in forgiveness. That doesn’t mean someone shouldn’t be punished for doing something wrong. You believe Benedict is guilty, case closed. I believe he’s a man and is guilty of something, but God forgives us as we forgive others. I am a very pastoral person-I meet people where they are, when they’re ready to be open.

          • Sure David. Whatever you say. You are open to all things, except as your God commands. And who interprets that? Your church. Case closed for all who don’t agree. That’s great. Close the case on this David and move along. You’re not making headway here, so cut your losses and be “pastoral” somewhere else. Thanks for confirming a few things for me though. TaTa.

          • How hard is it to interpret “Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself.”? Oh, yeah we interpret it. Love God, Love everyone else more than yourself. The problem of Christianity is not that it has been tried and found wanting. It’s that it hasn’t been tried at all. Oh, again, you’re misconceived. The Church is not the final interpreter of Christianity. Jesus is.

      • By the way, I went over there. Looks like they’re inviting people to sit around the table and all drink the same Kool-aid.

  3. I think we have to be very careful in giving “facts” the status of objective knowledge. Since we can never be incontrol of the raw data, we will all tend to believe that information to which we are predisposed.. This is why scientists go to such length to try and get closer to replicatable objective truth. This is all opinion. My own predisposition is to distrust all human institutions, because their first instinct is to preserve themselves. If past crimes were not enough, the Catholic Church has managed to give the impression that it is making whatever efforts it is making, not because it is deeply ashamed, but because it was found out. This maybe inherent venality or a monumental failure to understand public relations. Certainly, any institution with a notion of infallibility at its centre is going to have a tendency to hubris.

    As a British non-Catholic, I can’t comment on the extraordinary transformation David describes, whereby a self-protecting celibate male hierarchy has suddenly become the safest place around for children. I only know that when the report on what happened in Ireland was published, the Irish Catholic victims interviewed didn’t seem to be feeling that their plight had been addressed in the spirit of a religion which is supposed to have the care of children at its very heart.

    I don’t think the Irish commission’s damning report was unduly influenced by some media witch hunt, and I’m not talking about old mistakes; I’m talking about how the victims of abuse in Ireland are going to feel right now when bishops guilty of concealment are not allowed to resign.

    I admit, I’m a bit phobic about institutions because of my own experiences at their hands. But, for all I know David may be the religious equivalent of a football supporter, believing what the organisation tells him. Kids in the school yard say “prove it”, and the other one says “no, you prove it”.

    I have no more reason to set more faith in some “facts” simply because of the self-defined sanctified nature of their origin. They’re not my team.

    Don’t get me wrong. Of course there are a great many sincere individuals within the Catholic church, but to put humans in an institution which tells them that divine judgment and infallible wisdom are available, is just scary. Haven’t we had enough evil wrought in the name of God?

    I feel that all facts relating to highly emotional matters are too capable of distortion, as we see in the polarised exchanges between ffundamentalist theists, and fundamentalist atheists.

    “By their fruits shall ye know them” not “by their facts”.

    Diametrically opposite positions are not provable. If David can’t prove what he thinks to be true, and Mystery doesn’t feel she needs to prove what is her opinion, then I think the matter is best left as a serious difference of opinion. The attempt to elevate it into some objective titanic contest between God’s truth and the sinful world is likely only to generate sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    • The only problem I have with your comment is that you view the Catholic Church as a human institution. It’s nothing of the sort. There is no notion of infallibility at the center of the Catholic Church. That’s water-cooler catholicism. Infallibility is a very narrowly defined thing. It only happens when it is intended to happen. If the Pope were impeccible, I believe that’s the term you’re confusing, he could predict the stock market, and know exactly where to catch his dinner. Infallibility is about what is taught by the Pope and the bishops in communion with him. It’s very technical. Any bishop with any other thought than being a servant of his flock, as a shepherd is of his sheep, is not what a bishop should be. Also, I don’t believe, you, I, or anyone else knows what’s in the heart or mind of the Pope or anyone else, for that matter. That’s what it means “Judge not, lest you be judged.” I think the Church is showing that she wants to move back to being holy. Contrition because you got caught is not the same as contrition because you know it was wrong. But it’s hard for anyone but the individual to know which one is in fact.
      I believe the crimes are both serious matter, where the Church needs to address each case, and pony up, and it is also a public relations nightmare. I hate even trying to defend this (what I’m really defending is the vast multitude of truly good and holy priests, bishops and hierarchy, not the slime that would even think of doing this to a child, or that may have tried to sweep it under a rug). I am suggesting that we operate and get rid of the cancer, perform the chemotherapy, and move forward. What we’re doing is dredging up decades-old cases. It’s sort of like hearing about Tiger Woods’ 15th and 16th mistress. The first, second and third were enough. And for your information, all that ‘evil done in the name of God’ was in fact done by men. Even the Crusades, much demonized by some historians, were well intended and poorly executed, at worst. You can see plenty of fruits wroght by the Catholic Church, in fact the largest charitable organization in the world, the creator of the university system, the preserver and cultivator of scientific thought.

      • That’s very good. Spoken like a true apologist and convinced believer. Why waste your time here? Surely, the Church can put you to good use elsewhere? Besides, the doctrine of infallibility is a Roman popish invention and has nothing to do with historical christianity. Just ask the Orthodox Church from which Rome broke away in “pride.”

          • No, if you read the first line or two or three, the article has it correct. And the further explanation is right on. What’s wrong is your opinion, again, that this is something that was made up in 1870. The Catholic Church usually does not define terms until they are called into question. For example, the canon of scripture was held since the 1st century with minor discrepancies, to be exactly what our canon is today. Luther questioned it, decided to carve out books that didn’t agree with his theology, and so on. The Church, at the Council of Trent, carved in stone what our canon is to be. But the belief was always held. Same is true with papal infallibility. I’d be interested to know what pope when made an incorrect statement under the definition of infallibility.
            Regarding the East-West Schism, history shows that both sides were in error, and the problem was exacerbated by the influence of the secular world. The Normans invaded Southern Italy, which was Eastern Catholic, and demanded that all the Catholics become Roman Catholics, the Byzantine Patriarch responded by imposing his customs on Latin Rite Catholics in Constantinople. You may think that the pope and the patriarch excommunicated each other, but they did not.

            Orthodox bishop Kallistos Ware writes, “The choice of Cardinal Humbert was unfortunate, for both he and Cerularius were men of stiff and intransigent temper. . . . After [an initial, unfriendly encounter] the patriarch refused to have further dealings with the legates. Eventually Humbert lost patience, and laid a bull of excommunication against Cerularius on the altar of the Church of the Holy Wisdom. . . . Cerularius and his synod retaliated by anathematizing Humbert (but not the Roman Church as such)” (The Orthodox Church, 67).

          • Hey David, you’re back out of your Borg-ish Catholic closet I see. Yes, yes, I’ve heard that argument before. Frankly, I could care less about whether the church/pope/whatever has ever made an infallible statement because it’s a moot point. And your fallacious terms of “always” and “never” leave no room for debate about these points, so I leave that for the Orthodox and Catholic sects to fight amongst themselves about. It does not concern the world at large. Besides, there’s no such thing as infallibility, so there can be no debate between us. You believe your God and your Church set all the rules about what’s true and what isn’t and I don’t believe that. Our premises are different and always will be. Simple as that. I think we should take Reg’s advice and agree to disagree.

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