Catholic Church Episode III: A Lost Pope

by The Good Reverend on April 2, 2005 · 32 comments

in Uncategorized

I’m not a subscriber to Catholic Daily, so I really don’t know all the details of papal doctrines under Pope John Paul II. I’m sure many have their issues with his policies, as with all popes I would imagine.  But, I have to admit I liked him.  He seemed like a good guy, and he reminded me a bit of my grandpa.  On top of that, he did some cool things, like issue an official apology on behalf of the Catholic Church for 2000 years of, well, pretty shitty stuff they’ve done to humanity.  He called the American priests to task for their addiction to little boys.  He did a lot toward healing rifts between Christians and Jews.  Instead of sitting in his posh digs in Vatican City, he travelled enough to circle the globe 30 times over, visiting the impoverished and oppressed.

I’m sure he’s done his bad stuff too, but he seems to me a good man that was just trying to faithfully execute his beliefs.  God speed, sir.

So, the WTC attack happened on Davion’s birthday.  The Pope has now died on my birthday.  Alphamonkey, I’ll need to know your birthday so I can be sure to stay indoors and be watching CNN that day.

  • Reddit
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Digg
  • LinkedIn
  • RSS
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Posterous
  • Tumblr
  • .alphamonkey.

    You dimwit.  Episode 4 is a NEW hope, EP3 is Revenge of the Sith.  You’re a sad excuse for a nerd.

    He was certainly a progressive pope (as popes go), but he still fostered anti-gay, anti-women, anti-contraceptive policies.  And he might have taken priest to task for their pedophiliac predillections, but he certainly didn’t break his back making reparations, nor was the Vatican helpful in exposing the priests in question.

  • MonkeeDoo

    Many supple, reluctant choirboys were, however, quite helpful in exposing the priests in question.

  • The Good Reverend

    hehehe oh come on, Lucas has been making the same movie over and over again for the last 6 years.  How can I be expected to tell them apart?

    As for the Pope’s policies, I maintained that he “faithfully executed his beliefs”.  I don’t necessarily agree with those beliefs, which is why I’m not Catholic.  It is the duty of secular government to make sure people are treated equally.  It the duty of religion to try to encourage people to live “God’s law” as they understand it.  I am fully pro-contraceptives, pro-female clergy, and pro-people’s rights to sleep with whatever consenting adults they want.  However, I am also pro-the Catholic Church’s right to be against these things.  If a gay man doesn’t agree with the Church’s stance on being gay, he shouldn’t be Catholic.  If a woman is pissed about not being able to be a priest, she should quit bitching and start her own denomination.  The Church is trying to be a solid rock steeped in ancient rituals, traditions, and the “eternal laws” of God.  Changing those laws according to the latest public opinion would be completely antithetical to what the Church is all about.

    As for the sodomy stuff, the Pope called a council to put standards in place that will hopefully expose these priests sooner.  It isn’t the Pope’s job to make reparations.  Those priests made individual decisions to be pervs, and should stand as individuals in a criminal court of law.

  • .alphamonkey.

    As the head of said organization, shouldn’t it be reasonable to expect the pope to assume some level of responsibility?  Everything that happens under his watch is both to his credit, and to his blame.  That’s the nature of leadership.

    “Changing those laws according to latest public opinion would be completely antiethical to what the Church is all about”.

    I don’t know how to break this to you, but canonical law has most certainly changed and adapted along the way. As mankind evolves, so must our understanding of the divine.  You know, stagnant waters and all that.

  • The Good Reverend

    i expect him to take responsibility for the organization, not be personally responsible for the behavior of the tens of thousands of individuals beneath him.  He has an obligation to try to set policies that prevent this from happening again, which he did.  The “reparations” that the Church owes is to take corrective action.  Time will tell if they were effective corrective action, but action was taken.  I do not believe the Pope owes these people money or anything.

    And yes, it is no mystery that change is inevitable in religion as with all other institutions.  However, the Church changes at a slower rate.  Unlike secular institutions, the Church is ostensibly never changing its law, which is the supposed divine will of God.  Instead, they are changing their interpretation of that law.  As such, there are certain things in that law that are so black and white, people should not expect them to change quickly, if ever.  “Man shall not lie with man” is kind of hard to “interpret” in any way but one.  To change that mandate just because a percentage of the followers find it “soooo last millenium” is simply a bit ridiculous to ask of the Church.

  • .alphamonkey.

    Actually, the ‘man shall not lie with man’ bit is pretty easy to ‘interpret’.  After all, it’s not like the Catholic church currently demands that you kick your women out of the hous during her period? Or hey, what about Kosher law? That’s in Leviticus, too.  Pretty straightforward and difficult to miss, I might add.  So what’s up with the Christian love of bacon and ham?  Or only allowing women to handle the dead?  Sacrifical law?

    Bad rhetorical choice, Rev.

  • The Good Reverend

    yes, the Church has given way on certain things.  We’ve already covered this.  I would venture a guess though and say that most Catholics do not consider women handling the dead a moral issue.  However, homosexuality they do consider a moral issue – right or wrong.  They are not going to budge nearly as readily on the issue of homosexuality or abortion as they are on the right to use bacon bits instead of croutons.  Comparing ritual law to moral law is disingenuous.

    I’ll stick by my rhetorical device, thank you!

  • .alphamonkey.

    I disagree.  What we term as ‘moral’ is another way of saying ‘pleasing to God’.  Immoral is an ‘affront to god’.  All the rules mentioned in Leviticus are designed to allow people to live a life pleasing to God.  How is any one rule more flexible than another?  God’s not known for wiggle room. 

    You’re making a mistake common with those who argue that most of Leviticus is aimed squarely at Jewish life and isn’t applicable Christians.  If one rule is invalidated, they all are.

  • The Good Reverend

    hmm.. i don’t remember saying anything about Leviticus applying only to Jewish life.. wait, checking… nope.  I’m sure you just misread or something.  Common mistake. wink

    As for your theory on God’s laws, it breaks on the tablets of the Ten Commandments. If all the laws were of the same weight, God would have had no point in setting a bush on fire and picking his “favorite laws”.  He would just have One Commandment: “Please refer to what I already said.  Seriously folks, I’ve already covered this shit in Leviticus”.  He may have worded it a bit differently.

    But alas, the Ten Commandments were allegedly created because God was basically saying – “okay, I’m still not a fan of ham, but killing your neighbor is a lot worse!”

    God plays favorites with his laws.  And so does the Catholic Church.

  • .alphamonkey.

    The 10 Commandments (Book of Exodus) come before Leviticus, hoss.

    And no, I didn’t mean imply that you were stating that Leviticus only applied to Jews, just that your argument fails for similar reasons as those of people who DO use that argument.

  • The Good Reverend

    quit nitpicking!  I put you in a corner and you keep throwing a fucking ninja smoke bomb! smile Your point was that all the rules are equal – things are either pleasing to or an affront to God.  I don’t think you can deny that The Ten Commandments are considered more important to God than most other laws.  Which came first is irrelevant.

    I believe my argument is doing quite the opposite of failing.  In fact, I’m pretty damned confident in my argument right about now. 😀

  • .alphamonkey.

    Pointing out a logical failing in your argument isn’t a smokebomb, nor have you managed to put me in the corner. Your Ten Commandments comment is a bit disengenious, as I don’t recall one of the Commandments being “Thou Shall Not Have Hot Man on Man Action”, or any variation thereof. It’s all the more disengenious since my argument has concerned itself solely with the laws of Leviticus (where the ONLY direct forbidding of gay sex is mentioned).

    The discussion at hand concerns your statements about the ‘eternal laws of God’, which, the interpretation of, I then pointed out has indeed changed and mutated over time. 

    My underlying question was why are laws that are given equal weight in the Bible itself seemingly more open to change than others?  That question remains unanswered to to any level of satisfaction by your remarks.

  • The Good Reverend

    But we’re not just discussing gay sex.  I used it as an example.  My point was that certain laws are valued by the Church more than others.  I don’t care about what is or isn’t in Leviticus.  I don’t care which book came first, and I don’t care what specific laws are in the Ten Commandments.  They don’t have anything to do with my point.  When wishing to refute my argument, you must attack my argument, not insert your own version of my argument and then refute it.  I mean, you’re welcome to attack whatever argument you want, but if it’s not my argument, we really aren’t debating anymore. smile

    My argument is that the Church views certain laws as more important than others, as core to their faith, and that they are not going to yield on a whim to popular secular opinion on those tenets.  And further I maintain that they should not be expected to.  It is their faith.  Catholics eating ham is not deemed by the Catholic tradition as all that bad.  Homosexuality is.  Abortion is.  Divorce is.  Does that mean that people that do it should not be allowed to consider themselves Catholic?  Of course not.  In fact, being “sinners” keeps the Pope in business.  But should these people be expecting the Church to reverse these policies?  Hell no.  The Church is protecting its core belief system, and has the right to do that, just as a gay man has the right to tell the Church to go f’ itself and join a more tolerant religion.

  • .alphamonkey.

    My argument, which just happened to use your specific mention of gay sex as a reference point, wass that the Church HAS altered it’s core beliefs in the past.  (Try reading oh, let’s say ANY history on the Roman Catholic Church).  From the inclusion of Constantine’s sun-worshipping beliefs, to the absorbing and transmuting of various other pagan beliefs, as well as continually reinterpreting the bible as time goes on. There is precious little left in the Catholic Church that is as it was in it’s beginning. (For handy reference, see how the Saints are handled, Mary worship, halos, indulgences, the entire existence of Heaven and Hell, etc. etc. etc.)

    I simply do not agree that the Catholic Church holds it’s core beliefs to be inviolate, as history has shown how willing they were to re-interpret those beliefs as time went on.  And that dovetails nicely into my original point as I found the arbitrary nature of those changes to be patently ridiculous, considering it’s ‘God’s Will’ we’re talking about.

  • Shadow Stalker

    So, are you saying that the church should only be willing to change things that it’s members don’t care too much about, and be staunch defenders of the issues it’s members do care about?

  • .alphamonkey.

    oooooooh, snap!

  • The Good Reverend

    it is supposed to be a staunch defender of God’s law.  It is not supposed to care what the people think, but what God thinks.  It is impossible to tell what God thinks, which is why I’m not into overly organized religion – I think the whole thing ridiculous that a few dudes should be wielding this much power.  But Catholics accept prima facie that the Pope is God’s emissary.  That he and his merry band of cardinals are the voice of God’s will to Catholics.  So, lobbying the Pope or citing polls that a majority x% of Catholics say condoms are a good idea is pointless.  Are they a good idea?  Of course.  But Catholicism isn’t in the “good idea” business.  And it’s not running a popularity contest.

  • Just Plain Bob

    (i know what i said in the message boards. shut up, shut up, shut UP. just this once i’m posting.)

    Man’s understanding of the divine doesn’t need to change, because (as we understand it) God never changes. similarly, while we may strive to comprehend God, we’re destined to be unsure until the day we die. God is ineffable.

    Now, Catholicism itself is a bit wonky, because the Pope supposedly tells us what God says, but sometimes a new Pope will contradict an old Pope (like the whole issue of Purgatory.. do we got one, or don’t we?) and, as has been pointed out, the rituals and “extras” the Church has tacked on have become too important to them. I would not call the Catholic church a heresy, as some do; I just think they’ve gone a bit crackers.

    I’m a recovering Catholic myself.

    (and the only reason i’m in this thread is because in sidebar i noticed alpha said “ohhh snap” and i got curious. so shut up. just SHUT UP.)

  • .alphamonkey.

    Ha-ha! Tricked you!

  • Just Plain Bob

    oh yeah? well your DVD game sucked!

  • .alphamonkey.

    Ain’t like I made it.

  • Shadow Stalker

    I agree with you.  I think the new pope should go piss on Galileo’s grave on the anniversary of his ex-communication.  They would totally be on science’s side by sticking to the terracentric theory; there is no preferred reference frame!  The math is easier in a heliocentric system, but who ever said Catholics were easy?  I’m not kidding.

    However, I don’t believe that a person is good just because he’s trying to execute his beliefs.  I’ll jump on the Godwin grenade and mention Hitler, who was nearly as firm in his beliefs as our current President. (Like how I turned this into an anti-Bush tirade?  That’s years of liberal nutjob training right there)

  • The Good Reverend

    I agree, SS.  He was not a good man because of that.  I said he was a good man that faithfully executed his beliefs.  I would venture to say that I will respect a man because he faithfully executes his beliefs, but liking the person is completely unrelated.

    I respect Bush.  I respect Al Qaeda.  I respect Hitler.  I also strongly dislike all of them.

  • .alphamonkey.

    I’m making a t-shirt of that one.

    The Good Reverend:

    I Respect Hitler.

  • The Good Reverend

    yes, and it would be just like you to leave off the “I also strongly dislike him” part.

  • .alphamonkey.

    I’m unclear as to why you think that “I also strongely dislike [him]” somehow negates the “I respect Hitler”.  One does not cancel the other, nor does it diminish it’s impact.

  • noochienoochie

    Getting back to the “Man shall not lie with man” line, I partly agree w/ you GR. However, that line is mentioned right next to another line, that states something to the effect of “Don’t have sex during menstruation”. Of course, plenty of God fearing Christians have nonetheless earned their red wings w/o a thought to it being sinful. Now, only reason I can think of for those 2 mandates to be mentioned back to back is that both activities do not help much to propagate the Heeb stock. I’m of course simplifying things too, but let’s remember that the Bible was just as much an instruction manual for human survival and well-being as it was spiritual scripture. Would be nice if the Church could step back every once in a while and see things from that angle.

  • The Good Reverend

    i’m assuming then that the Church has reversed its policy on sex during menstruation?  I wasn’t aware the Pope published an encyclical on that.  If so, I’m getting a copy – I’ll bet that’s a great read. smile

    I see your point about it being a human survival manual as well as scripture, however I think it is becoming less of the former and more the latter.  I mean, we rely on science and Tom Ridge to know that the best way to thwart nuclear or biological attack is to use duct tape.  The Church is certainly not needed for survival tactics anymore.  And even if they were, two men still can’t make a baby. wink

    I agree that it would be awfully nice if the Church would change some of its policies.  I’ve always considered them as kind of hardasses about Jesus being the only road to salvation.  However, it is their belief system and I am not going to waste anytime trying to make them change it.

  • noochienoochie

    OK, you got me! I don’t actually know the Church’s current position on that subject. I just haven’t heard them outright demonish the act (especially to the extent that they harp on homosexuality), and moreso, I haven’t met too many Christians who are against it–being the natural subject of choice when talking w/ family friends at the dinner table. But also, thanks to Tom Ridge and like-minded geniuses, the Church has admitted that maybe, just maybe, the earth wasn’t really created in 7 days. Who knows, maybe in another 20 years, Tom Ridge’s lovechild will bring us even more conclusive evidence for the existence of gays as a totally natural and normal phenomenon, to the point where even the Church can no longer argue. My frustration w/ the Church is that they are in fact rigid, yet their religion was founded on some pretty loose ideas. The Old Testament’s prophecies of what would happen after Jesus’s coming seemed pretty black and white to the people of the time, yet none of what they expected actually happened the day the tomb was sealed. So, the John, Paul & Luke gang were some pretty inventive guys who still found a way to figuratively fit the Bible’s teachings in w/ the current scene. So no, it isn’t ridiculous to ask the church to change those policies considered soooo last millenium. You dig?

  • The Good Reverend

    I dig. smile I agree that the Church is a pretty rigid organization, and reluctant to change to keep up with the times.  However, people who are Catholic are obviously drawn to ritual and rigidity.  I would imagine it is what they look to the Church for.  Some “definite answer” for God.  Many Catholics will have their own faults with various policies (divorce, abortion, etc) but nonetheless want the Church to maintain that stance, leaving the individual free to stray a bit here and there.  I suppose saying it’s “ridiculous” to ask them to change is a bit harsh, but it is asking the Church to be something it’s not.  The Church is not progressive.  It is not rational.  And most Catholics like it that way.

  • noochienoochie

    I get what you’re saying Rev. Much the same as Monkey’s been raving on about, I’m calling the Church out as a hypocrite b/c its foundation was based upon reinterpretation and progressiveness, yet it now refuses to be so. That’s what I’m calling ridiculous. Like its self-invented rituals and traditions are more holy now than the damn book that got ‘em started. Whereas you accept them for what they’ve become, and whether you agree or disagree w/ them isn’t the issue. Cool. Now that we’ve got that settled, what the hell are we gonna talk about? I was gonna say flame on, you shining bastard, flame on, but I think I’m content w/ all this right now.

  • The Good Reverend

    yeah, i’m getting tired of debating this, since none of us have changed our positions I’m sure.  I guess I’m just saying that, if you climb on board the Catholic train, you are accepting that a bunch of people in funny hats are running the show.  Catholics bitching about the laws of Catholicism when they are fully free not to be Catholic seems a bit retarded.  If I step into a basketball game, I’m not going to bitch because “hey, dribbling is hard!  Let me just carry it to the basket!” Fuck that.  Learn to dribble or play a different game.  And if next year they change the rules so that you have to roll the ball instead of dribble, you know what?  You better learn to run while stooped over like a chimp.

Previous post:

Next post: