Friday, February 06, 2009

Catholics and the Pope




Here's what I don't understand. How do grown men and women take Catholicism seriously when the pope is so ridiculous?

Sure, there are crazy rabbis and plenty of crazy imams, but none is officially the head of their whole religion. In the pope, you have all the hypocrisy and evil and pomposity of religion wrapped up in one man.

Now the current pope isn't as bad as, say, Alexander VI, but he's hardly a paragon of moral virtue or wisdom. Shortly after un-excommunicating a holocaust-denying bishop, he has named a guy who said Hurricane Katrina was "God's punishment" and that the Harry Potter books spread Satanism to bishop.

Before he was pope, he and the previous pope covered up the child-abusing spree of Marciel Maciel. (He's also an overtly anti-gay man who wears a dress and bright red Prada shoes and has suspiciously handsome assistants, but that sort of argument is beneath this blog. Yeah right.)

All the popes dress in ridiculously over-the-top costumes and live in gigantic palaces controlling 10-15$ billion in wealth while preaching against greed and materialism and pretending to be against povery. I mean, seriously, how does a grown person look at this guy and see a spiritual leader? It's beyond me.

23 comments:

jewish philosopher said...

It's not really so complicated I think. What happened is that many gentiles are attracted to the Torah and want to accept the 7 Noahide commandments. However doing so is humiliating, it means admitting that the Jews are God's chosen people and everyone else is inferior. The solution is to create a new religion, claiming that God has changed His mind and decided that the Romans (or Arabs or whoever) are God's chosen and the 7 commandments are completely sufficient.

Holy Hyrax said...

>Shortly after un-excommunicating a holocaust-denying bishop,

What was the un-excommunication for? Was it for denying the holocaust, or something else entirely?

>he has named a guy who said Hurricane Katrina was "God's punishment" and that the Harry Potter books spread Satanism to bishop.

I don't see how this is "evil." All religions see Gods hand in events and reasons for it. You might disagree, but I don't see the hypocrisy and evil in this.

I agree with you regarding where he lives though. Seems counter productive to me. But, seems to me that the will of the billions of his followers probably prefer their leader not living in a two bedroom apartment.

abandoning eden said...

oh come on, there are of bishops, you think the pope reads the entire life history of each one he appoints?

abandoning eden said...

I meant thousands of bishops

and the pope is supposedly making the holocaust guy publicly apologize for denying the holocaust as part of the terms of his re-communication.

Ezzie said...

I have to agree regarding the lavish lifestyle. Big rabbonim sometimes live nicely (R' Ovadia Yosef), but even then, it's not anything close to this and one can argue that it's similar (to a lesser extent) to any figure that works on behalf of the people. That R' Yosef and others have a nice car with a convoy isn't itself outrageous, if it helps him get where he's going and still accomplish on behalf of the people. (Though even then, the video mocking Chassidishe rabbonim was interesting.) And on top of that, many great Rabbonim do/did live rather modestly, even those who were "the" gedolei hador (such as R' Moshe Feinstein).

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patrick said...

What was the un-excommunication for? Was it for denying the holocaust, or something else entirely?

Something totally different.

However doing so is humiliating, it means admitting that the Jews are God's chosen people and everyone else is inferior.

Your joking right? Your superior, you who claim the likes of Maddoff in your tribe are superior? Oh please!

Chesterfield said...

As an atheist, I'm not sure what you see wrong with denying the Holocaust?
What if someone doesn't find enough evidence to be convinced that it ever happened? You can claim to have millions of witnesses, but what did they really see?
Imagine in a thousand years from now, or even just a couple of generations. No witnesses will be alive, only traditions handed down in Jewish families. Documentation? Maybe they were all made up years later. Maybe there was some conspiracy?
The same way atheists are not convinced that millions of Jewish people carry traditions from their ancestors for thousands of years that millions of their ancestors experienced a revelation of God at Sinai, and that the documentation was made up hundreds of years later, why not say the same about the holocaust?

Comrade Kevin said...

I have always thought certain Catholic beliefs were delusional or nonsensical, but that apparently doesn't stop many from buying them hook, line, and sinker.

Anonymous said...

Chesterfield,

I don't believe most Jews would agree with me, but I don't see any anti-semitism in questioning the numbers of the Holocaust. Frankly, I'd be happy to see the number examined dispassionately. But, like asking your fat aunt what size dress she wears, the academic issue takes a back seat to one of sensitivity. If you ask the question, you're generally trying to be rude.

random said...

"How do grown men and women take Catholicism seriously when the pope is so ridiculous? "

To which I would reply if I was feeling as snarky as you "why do grown men and women feel they can judge Catholicism when they have clearly not taken the slightest trouble to learn anything about it?" Heck I'm a protestant, and some of this stuff (like prelates in palaces) is pretty much what the "protest" in that word is about, but I hope I would never be this juvenile.

Take the issue of bishop Williamson for example. He and the rest of the Society of St. Pius X were excommunicated for schismatism, not for holocaust denial. The way excommunication works in the Church of Rome is that it's (a) only used as a last resort for the most serious errors (and deliberately splitting the Body of Christ is about as serious as it gets in theological terms); and (b) because of the severe consequences entailed on it (someone who dies excommunicate is held to be automatically damned) the Church is under a great deal of self-inflicted pressure to try to win back the excommunicate. Also, when the original cause of the excommunication is no longer valid then the excommunicate is automatically deemed to be back in full communion. This basically means that once their repentance is judged to be sincere and complete then the church does not take an active decision to grant them the sacraments again, they simply state that the barriers to receiving them no longer exist. This is what has happened here - the SSPX repented of their schismatic activities last year, and the pope certified that their repentance was sincere. It had nothing to do one way or the other with Williamson's views on the holocaust. The church has however banned him from exercising any priestly or episcopal role until he does renounce hus repugnant views - basically, he can receive the sacraments but not administer them, and will in no capacity be allowed to represent the Catholic church. The church has made it's position clear - they will once again minister to Williamson's immortal soul, but they in no way endorse or approve of his views. Christ came to call the sinners, not the righteous, to repentance after all.

FWIW, and I suspect such a view will not be popular around here, but I think Rome more or less called this one right.

As for the Austrian guy - what HH said. Why are you shocked and amazed that religious people see God at work in the world? Did you really expect the pope to appoint Richard Dawkins?

Oh and as for "He's also an overtly anti-gay man who wears a dress and bright red Prada shoes and has suspiciously handsome assistants" - two thoughts. (1) its' not a dress and red prada shoes, it's a uniform that hasn't changed for centuries (IIRC the red shoes are a symbol of authority that date back to the Roman Empire, and in particular to the time when the emperors were handing over the role of high priest of the Empire to the popes). And (2) if back when we were discussing gay marriage those of us who are sceptical about it had cited the fashion choices and sneers about the lifestyles of some high profile homosexuals as justification for opposition, you would have been the first to cry bigot. Why the double standard? It's still bigotry when it's done to people you don't approve of you know.

Astrid Schenck said...

"How do grown men and women take Catholicism seriously when the pope is so ridiculous?"

I grew up Catholic (I'm now an atheist). From a young age Catholic kids are taught from a young age that Catholicism is the true original Christian denomination and that Orthodox Christianity and Protestantism are deviations from it. They believe Jesus appointed Peter to be the first pope (Matthew 16:17-19 if you care to look it up)and that all popes are chosen by God to run the church. Kind of like Hasidim and their Rebbes, Catholics are taught from a young age to love the pope and take what he says to be divine truth.

As for all the decadence, it's probably a combination of the papacy being the prime governing force of Western Europe throughout much of the Middle Ages and all men with religious education coming from wealthy families. Corruption just came along naturally with all the power and wealth.

I guess long answer short, people revere the pope for the same reason so many people hold the religious beliefs they were taught as a child, powerful indoctrination and poor or selective critical thinking.

Jewish Atheist said...

JP:

Pretty much all new religions are built upon previous ones -- Judaism itself is no exception. (Yawheh and the Elohim were gods in previous religions.)


HH:

What was the un-excommunication for? Was it for denying the holocaust, or something else entirely?

Not specifically for denying the holocaust, but the group as a whole tends to be stand for everything anti-semitic -- against Vatican II, holocaust denial, etc.

I don't see how this is "evil." All religions see Gods hand in events and reasons for it. You might disagree, but I don't see the hypocrisy and evil in this.

Thinking God killed people in New Orleans for being gay, promiscuous, etc., and then praising and worshiping that God, is evil.


AE:

oh come on, there are of bishops, you think the pope reads the entire life history of each one he appoints?

These aren't aberrations; that's what this guy is about.

and the pope is supposedly making the holocaust guy publicly apologize for denying the holocaust as part of the terms of his re-communication.

Only after the public outcry.


Ezzie:

I have to agree...

YAY!!!! ;-)


Anon:

Please don't spam cut-and-paste posts.


Patrick:

Your joking right? Your superior, you who claim the likes of Maddoff in your tribe are superior? Oh please!

LOL, JP is crazy. Don't bother.


Chesterfield:

As an atheist, I'm not sure what you see wrong with denying the Holocaust?
What if someone doesn't find enough evidence to be convinced that it ever happened?


If someone doesn't "find" enough evidence for the holocaust, he's not looking dispassionately. The evidence is overwhelming.

Imagine in a thousand years from now, or even just a couple of generations. No witnesses will be alive, only traditions handed down in Jewish families. Documentation? Maybe they were all made up years later. Maybe there was some conspiracy?

Okay, maybe in a thousand years holocaust denial won't automatically equal antisemitism. Right now it does. Show me a denier who is not also an anti-semite.


Random:

To which I would reply if I was feeling as snarky as you "why do grown men and women feel they can judge Catholicism when they have clearly not taken the slightest trouble to learn anything about it?"

I'm making fun of the pomp and circumstance and cozying up with evil men. I don't need a degree in Catholic theology for that. And yeah, I recognize that this post is snarky and not very good.

Take the issue of bishop Williamson for example. He and the rest of the Society of St. Pius X were excommunicated for schismatism, not for holocaust denial.

Right.. and why did they reject Vatican II? It's not part of the same philosophy that makes them think the Jews killed God, etc.?

It had nothing to do one way or the other with Williamson's views on the holocaust.

This is a pope who says even celibate gays can't become priests. So clearly he has some ideological lines -- it's just that anti-semitism isn't one of them.

As for the Austrian guy - what HH said. Why are you shocked and amazed that religious people see God at work in the world?

It's not "seeing God at work in the world." The guy didn't say he sees Jesus in every baby's smile. He said God killed people for being gay, promiscuous, etc. That's an evil God and anyone who worships him is evil.

(1) its' not a dress and red prada shoes, it's a uniform that hasn't changed for centuries

The "dress" I was joking about. The Prada is real.

And (2) if back when we were discussing gay marriage those of us who are sceptical about it had cited the fashion choices and sneers about the lifestyles of some high profile homosexuals as justification for opposition, you would have been the first to cry bigot. Why the double standard?

Because I'm not making fun of his clothes per se. I'm making fun of his hypocrisy. I'd bet money the guy is gay.


Astrid:

I guess long answer short, people revere the pope for the same reason so many people hold the religious beliefs they were taught as a child, powerful indoctrination and poor or selective critical thinking.

Yep.

G said...

Gotta be the shoes

Holy Hyrax said...

>Thinking God killed people in New Orleans for being gay, promiscuous, etc., and then praising and worshiping that God, is evil.

You should have added "IMO" to the beginning of that.

Holy Hyrax said...

>I'm making fun of the pomp and circumstance and cozying up with evil men.

The word "evil" used to mean something. Its used too often now that is basically worthless.

Holy Hyrax said...

>It's not "seeing God at work in the world." The guy didn't say he sees Jesus in every baby's smile. He said God killed people for being gay, promiscuous, etc. That's an evil God and anyone who worships him is evil.

Well then basically every OJ or anyone believing in YHWH is evil then. Cause its not just seeing the good in the world, but basically the bad as well and why punishments occur. That is a just as much part of Judaism as seeing miracles.

Random said...

"Not specifically for denying the holocaust,"

Not at all for denying the holocaust. As mentioned, they were excommunicated for entering into schism - specifically, the founder of the SSPX Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre ordained the four bishops who have now had their excommunication lifted in defiance of Rome's instructions not to. It was a direct challenge to Rome's authority and the five were excommunicated as a result. Nothing to do with Holocaust denial or anything else.

"Thinking God killed people in New Orleans for being gay, promiscuous, etc., and then praising and worshiping that God, is evil."

Somewhat harsh, simplistic, and dare I say it Old Testament, yes. But evil, hardly. God is not Santa Claus, he metes out punishment as well as goodies. (And no, I don't believe that Katrina was divine punishment.)

"Only after the public outcry."

Well, as the interview that caused the outcry wasn't broadcast until after the excommunication was lifted how could they have done it before?

"I'm making fun of the pomp and circumstance and cozying up with evil men."

There's no harm in pomp and circumstance, it adds to the gaiety of life and the Catholics are very good at it. If you don't like that sort of thing there's always the Quakers. And as has already been commented on, you're a mite too free in throwing around the word evil to preserve much meaning in the word.

"I don't need a degree in Catholic theology for that."

No, but a rather greater level of understanding of what Catholics mean by excommunication than you are showing would be desirable if you are going to get outraged by the lifting of it.

"Right.. and why did they reject Vatican II? It's not part of the same philosophy that makes them think the Jews killed God, etc.?"

They've rejected every change in Catholic doctrine for the last hundred years (Pope St Pius X died in 1914 - he was a genuinely good and holy man with a deep feeling for ministering to the poor BTW, he does not deserve to have his name linked to these nutters), there's nothing special about Vatican II, they're not conservatives they're died-in-the-wool reactionaries.

It should be noted that the lifting of excommunication is only the beginning of the process of reconciliation, not the end of it, Rome has made it very clear that they have to accept the full authority and teaching of the church - including Vatican II - if they are ever to exercise priestly office again.

"This is a pope who says even celibate gays can't become priests."

Source, please? Because everything I can find is saying that gay men who can commit to celibacy are welcome. At worst, you can criticise the church for demanding higher standards of proof of commitment to celibacy from gays than they are from straights, but that is apparently down to an understandable concern that the environment of an all-male seminary may prove an unfair temptation to any homosexual not wholly committed to the celibate lifestyle.

"The "dress" I was joking about. The Prada is real."

No, it's an urban legend (even the article you link to, presumably as evidence, only characterises the prada story as "gossip") which has been explicitly denied by the Vatican. The pope's shoes are made for him by a cobbler called Adriano Stefanelli from Novara.

"Because I'm not making fun of his clothes per se."

It certainly sounded like it.

" I'm making fun of his hypocrisy. I'd bet money the guy is gay."

For which you have no evidence whatsoever other than, erm, his dress sense. Even if true, so what? He's clearly celibate and as I showed above he has not sought to ban celibate homosexuals from the priesthood.

Jewish Atheist said...

Random:

It was a direct challenge to Rome's authority and the five were excommunicated as a result. Nothing to do with Holocaust denial or anything else.

That's a bit disingenuous, no? It's not like this group branched off for no reason -- they branched off because, as you put it later in your comment, they're died-in-the-wool reactionaries. Which includes antisemitism, among other things.

Somewhat harsh, simplistic, and dare I say it Old Testament, yes. But evil, hardly. God is not Santa Claus, he metes out punishment as well as goodies. (And no, I don't believe that Katrina was divine punishment.)

Look, a God who kills people for being gay or promiscuous is an evil God by any reasonable definition of the word "evil." Why would anybody praise or worship such a God, let alone serve as his representative on Earth?

Source, please? Because everything I can find is saying that gay men who can commit to celibacy are welcome.

It's a little better than I remembered. I was thinking of the original reports that even celibate gay men would be forbidden from the priesthood, but it seems like the actual rules are a little more lenient.

The new version still says ordination is not permissible for men with “deep-seated” gay tendencies. He's also said that "blurring distinctions between male and female [presumably referring to gay marriage] could lead to the 'self-destruction' of the human race. And rejected the French ambassador to the Vatican for being gay. Etc.

No, it's an urban legend (even the article you link to, presumably as evidence, only characterises the prada story as "gossip") which has been explicitly denied by the Vatican. The pope's shoes are made for him by a cobbler called Adriano Stefanelli from Novara.

Okay, maybe not. Hilarious quote from that link, btw: "The Pope is not dressed by Prada but by Christ," he said.

I think we may have gotten to the point where we might guess that a person who is more homophobic than strictly required by his position is a closet case, too. Not to mention the fact that men who go into the priesthood are far more likely to be gay than average because they have no choice if they're too scared/ignorant to disobey their religious teachings. I'm only half-joking.

Anonymous said...

Random,

Thanks for your comments. I thought you handled JA's riff easily.

seagull said...

JA, why are you so preoccupied with a God who doesn't let people be gay as being evil, or that He he would punish people for keeping His rules?
Frankly, I find that way of thinking to be shallow.
Even if you don't believe in God, I can still understand that someone who would choose to believe in Him would understand that He's not some fairy who gives out candies to everyone. If He exists, and really is a good God as the monotheistic religions teach, then He's allowed to make up laws for our good and to enforce them.
If He exists and is good, He's expected to take care of whatever He has to, the same way when a doctors' treatment sometimes hurts.
Governments are not evil when they make laws for the good of the people, and cops are not evil for enforcing them, even if the criminals don't really understand what they did wrong.
I don't mean to be offensive, but you seem to have a very shallow understanding of basic monotheistic theology. What did you learn at those religious schools?
Before someone would argue with you about your belief (or non-belief) system I think you would have expected him to have some sort of an uderstanding of it.

Shalmo said...

I'm curious why a Jewish Atheist is raving against another religion. Right now the biggest threat to global stability is Israel; with both its secular (zionism) and theological wings. Yeah denying the holocaust sucks, but then so does denying one taking place right beneath our noses in Gaza.

The catholic dude is just one holocaust denier. Denying doesn't do much. However F-16s bombing infrastructures with women and children in them, does do a lot.

You need to realize that the reason people hate Jews (justified or not) and start these tirades such as denying the holocaust and so on, is because of the barbarism the Jewish people are engaging in today.

A wolf can only put on a sheep's clothing so many times, before the farmer catches him in the act, and arrives with a shot-gun to say "no more".

Gibson Block said...

Great discussion. Well written, quick witted and often well-informed.

The critiques of JA were well done and, right or wrong, his rebuttals were too.