Showing posts with label pope. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pope. Show all posts

Monday, 20 April 2015

Pope Singles Out Secular & Atheist 'Threats to Society' to Jewish Leaders

Pope Francis (source)
It's interesting how you can take something really bad, like say, rising European antisemitism as a primary portion of a short speech and just slide a little something about atheism and secularism being a 'threat' in at the same time. It makes for interesting headlines, like this one: Pope warns Jewish delegation of ‘threat’ of atheism and anti-Semitism

It's neat because you're not actually saying they're the same thing -- oh no! -- but if they're practically the only two things in your short speech, they kinda end up being linked somehow inside people's minds -- even if it's at the subconscious level. I'm sure there was no intention of that, though. Especially since the likelihood a Nazi being an atheist was and still is rather low.

Here's the full speech, Address of his Holiness Pope Francis to Members of the Delegation of the "Conference of European Rabbis", quoted off the Vatican website:
Dear Friends,

I welcome you, members of the delegation of the Conference of European Rabbis, to the Vatican. I am especially pleased to do so, as this is the first visit by your Organization to Rome to meet with the Successor of Peter. I greet your President, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, and I thank him for his kind words.

I wish to express my sincere condolences for the death last evening of Rabbi Elio Toaff, former Chief Rabbi of Rome. I am united in prayer with Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni – who would have been here with us – and with the entire Jewish Community in Rome. We gratefully remember this man of peace and dialogue who received Pope John Paul II during his historic visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome.

For almost fifty years, the dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Jewish community has progressed in a systematic way. Next 28 October we will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate, which is still the reference point for every effort we make in this regard. With gratitude to the Lord, may we recall these years, rejoicing in our progress and in the friendship which has grown between us.

Today, in Europe, it is more important than ever to emphasise the spiritual and religious dimension of human life. In a society increasingly marked by secularism and threatened by atheism, we run the risk of living as if God did not exist. People are often tempted to take the place of God, to consider themselves the criterion of all things, to control them, to use everything according to their own will. It is so important to remember, however, that our life is a gift from God, and that we must depend on him, confide in him, and turn towards him always. Jews and Christians have the blessing but also the responsibility to help preserve the religious sense of the men and women of today, and that of our society, by our witness to the sanctity of God and human life. God is holy, and the life he has given is holy and inviolable.

Anti-Semitic trends in Europe these days are troubling, as are certain acts of hatred and violence. Every Christian must be firm in deploring all forms of anti-Semitism, and in showing their solidarity with the Jewish people (cf. Nostra Aetate, 4). Recently we marked the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the concentration camp which has come to be synonymous with the great tragedy of the Shoah. The memory of what took place there, in the heart of Europe, is a warning to present and future generations. Acts of hatred and violence against Christians and the faithful of other religions must likewise be condemned everywhere.

Dear friends, I heartily thank you for this very significant visit. I extend my best wishes to your communities, with the assurance of my closeness and prayers. And, please, do not forget to pray for me.

Shalom alechem!
Just fifty years? What on earth were they doing for centuries before this? I'll let you do the research. Get back to me on this one.

Meanwhile, we have atheists -- or at least their metaphysical position, which many religious zealots could equate as essentially one in the same -- being stigmatized as a threat to society by the leader of the word's largest Christian denomination to leaders of what's very likely the most stigmatized and persecuted religion in history.

Am I the only one who sees this as at least a little ironic?

Friday, 20 February 2015

Pope Francis Compares Gender Theory to Nuclear Weapons

I think we can all agree that nuclear war is bad. Really, it's one of the worst things ever and having myself grown up in the tail end of the Cold War, it still terrifies the hell out of me. I'd be willing to bet that more people on this planet hate nuclear explosions more than, say, Jews, black people, women... insert your persecuted minority here.

This is what makes Pope Francis' (aka. The 'Good' Pope) latest comments about how gender theory is sort of kind of like nuclear weapons a little stomach turning.
Pope Francis has appeared to compare trans and genderqueer people to nuclear weapons, saying both do not 'recognize the order of creation'.
Are we a tiny bit threatened by queer folk?

The National Catholic Review gives us this short definition of gender theory:
Gender theory is a broad term for an academic school of thought that considers how people learn to identify themselves sexually and how they may become typed into certain roles based on societal expectations.
Certain societal expectations, like perhaps the Catholic Church?
'Let's think of the nuclear arms, of the possibility to annihilate in a few instants a very high number of human beings,' he says.

'Let's think also of genetic manipulation, of the manipulation of life, or of the gender theory, that does not recognize the order of creation.'

'With this attitude, man commits a new sin, that against God the Creator,' the pope adds.

'The true custody of creation does not have anything to do with the ideologies that consider man like an accident, like a problem to eliminate.'

'God has placed man and woman and the summit of creation and has entrusted them with the earth,' Francis says. 'The design of the Creator is written in nature.'

'If we fail in this responsibility, if we do not take care of our brothers and of all creation, destruction advances,' he added.
Perhaps a little hyperbolic? Maybe a tad fear-mongering? Could it be said that comparisons like this might also be a tiny bit incendiary and dangerous to trans people?

Naturally, the Pope doesn't seem to realize or care that trans people are not the result of an ideology.  This is who they are! Why would they risk life and limb in a world which, for the most part, loathes their very existence, to be themselves other than a yearning to be authentic?

The Pope apparently also addressed the threat of gender theory in an January interview where he called it ideological colonization!
Recounting the story of a public education minister he knew who was offered money to construct new schools for the poor, Francis said to receive the money, the minister had to agree to use a course book with students that taught gender theory.

"This is the ideological colonization," the pope said. "It colonizes the people with an idea that changes, or wants to change, a mentality or a structure."

"It is not new, this," he continued. "The same was done by the dictators of the last century. They came with their own doctrine -- think of the Balilla [youth groups of Fascist Italy], think of the Hitler Youth."
Ideological colonization? You mean like what the Catholic Church has been doing par excellence
across the entire planet for centuries. The forced conversions, well, everywhere, including the Native population right here in Canada where children were wrenched from their families and thrown into residential schools? Ideological colonization like that, maybe?

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Montreal Mayor Invites Pope to City's 375th Birthday

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre inviting the Pope to Montreal. (source)
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, fresh from visiting the site of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, briefly met the Pope -- who, in the wake of the Paris attacks, reminded us that anyone who makes fun of one's religion deserves a good ol' punch! During the minute or so meeting, he invited the Pope to Montreal's 375th Birthday bash in 2017 -- cuz Catholicism has a long history in this city. Well, I cannot argue there.

Veronica Abbass brings up the Quiet Revolution in a piece reacting to this news over at Canadian Atheist. Quebec was literally a Catholic theocracy which brought it to a breaking point during the end of the socially conservative Maurice Duplessis government in the late fifties. This is a time referred to as la Grande Noirceur (The Great Darkness). Oh yeah, Quebec and the Catholic Church go back a long way!

So, the head of Montreal handed the Pope this letter. Here's a few interesting extracts.
La Ville de Montréal fêtera en 2017 le 375e anniversaire de sa fondation qui a eu lieu le 17 mai 1642. La mission d'évangélisation et de conversion des Amérindiens qui a mené à la fondation de Ville-Marie... 
The City of Montreal will celebrate in 2017 the 375th anniversary of its foundation, which occurred the 17th of May, 1642. The mission of evangelization and conversion of the American Indians which led to the foundation of Ville Marie...
In the letter, the mayor seems convinced that the Pope is a symbol of loving tolerance for free speech and freedom of thought.
Mais les tristes événements récents de Paris, d'Afrique ou ceux qui se sont produits au Canada, entre autres, nous rappellent combien il importe que les gouvernants ainsi que les leaders religieux envoient des messages de tolérance et de respect de l'autre ainsi que du respect de la liberté de pensée et d'expression.

However, the sad recent events in Paris, Africa or those which occurred in Canada, among others, remind us how it is important that governments as well as religious leaders express messages of tolerance and respect of the other as well as respect of freedom of thought and expression.
You mean like this?
"One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people's faith, one cannot make fun of faith," Pope Francis said in response to a question about the Paris terror attacks during a press conference aboard his plane on the way to Manila, Philippines.

He was unequivocal that nothing could justify the massacre in Paris, but suggested the magazine had gone too far.

Using an analogy, the pope said if a dear friend were to utter "a swear word against my mother, he's going to get a punch in the nose. That's normal."

"There are so many people who speak badly about religions, who make fun of them... they are provocateurs. And what happens to them is what would happen to (my dear friend) if he says a word against my mother."
Or like this?
The Pope is “shocked” by Malta’s Civil Unions Bill, which will allow gay couples to adopt children, Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna has told The Sunday Times of Malta.
Or this?
As Slovakia gears up for a referendum on same-sex unions this coming weekend, Pope Francis gave his blessing to the country's efforts to block marriage and adoption rights for gay couples.
Or this?
“One time, I heard a father in a meeting with married couples say ‘I sometimes have to smack my children a bit, but never in the face so as to not humiliate them’.

“How beautiful! He knows the sense of dignity! He has to punish them but does it justly and moves on.”
Or this?
"It is horrific even to think that there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day," he said in a section of the speech about the rights of children around the world.
 Or this?
Pope Francis has denounced the right to die movement, saying it's a "false sense of compassion" to consider euthanasia as an act of dignity when in fact it's a sin against God and creation.
Or this?
In advance of a vast rally on Sunday that could draw as many as 6 million people, the pope called on families to be “sanctuaries for respect for life”, and praised the church for maintaining its opposition to modern birth control, even if all Catholics could not live by such rules.
Sounds totally compatible with modern-day secular, multicultural 21st century Montreal, doesn't it? No, not really. Sounds more like a throwback to la Grande Noirceur.

While Quebec is definitely a secular province, it seems like mayors are a whole other breed. You've got the 2005 lighting of the Mont Royal crucifix purple to mark John Paul II's death and that guy in Saguenay.

via Veronica Abbass, Canadian Atheist

Monday, 22 December 2014

New Pope, Same Story With LGBT in 2014

Pope John Paul II statue in Guadalupe, Mexico.
Michael Lyons, a fellow cantankerous atheist, over at Xtra wrote a short and delightfully snarky rundown of this past year's points of conflict between LGBT issues and religion: This year in queers vs religion.

It's a short read, but in it he sums up what I've been thinking of Pope Francis, whom has been made the media's darling because he seems like a reasonably likeable person.
One of the more infuriating instances was the media’s fawning over the Catholic Church not really doing a whole lot over LGBT people. “In an unusually public debate, 200 or so bishops talked of acknowledging the ‘gifts and qualities’ of gay Catholics but later backed down and failed to pass a measure on welcoming them ‘with respect and delicacy,’” the Post notes.

The publication also focuses on how the US has more than doubled the number of states that now allow same-sex marriage.

It also notes that virulently homophobic Pope John Paul II was proclaimed a saint by Pope Francis, so that probably gives him magical powers to be an asshole to LGBT people from beyond the grave.

Don't forget that in Ontario this year was the very first Pope John Paul II Day -- thinly veiled as Karol Wojtyła Day. I wonder what Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne -- who is gay -- thinks about this? Oh, she thinks it's a great idea. I'm pretty sure it's also the state endorsing religion as well. Yup.

And so it goes.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

A Little Ironic?: Pope Francis Opposes Recreational Drugs

I just don't know. There seems to be something vaguely ironic about this slideshow picture on a recent CNN article about the Pope's opposition to anyone using recreational drugs because...
"Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise," he told participants at the International Drug Enforcement Conference in Rome.
In case the Pope forgot, alcohol is a drug and alcohol addiction -- alcoholism -- is no joke at all. Thousands of people have died from this disease. It tears up families and destroys lives. I suppose the Pope is just fine with that.

Of course, if alcohol were made illegal (again in the States), the Church could be exempted from the prohibition like they were at the beginning of the last century. Because: 'religious freedom' and because --- after all -- 'it's not wine, it's Jesus blood,' or something.

Luckily, like other matters, the world is moving on and progressing in the right direction while the Catholic Church remains in the Middle Ages. Public opinion in the United States is moving to the much more reasonable idea of legalizing drugs like marijuana which have been shown to be practically harmless compared to alcohol.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Pope Francis: Science & Religion? No problemo.

My I'm-no-artist-but-I-sort-of-try tribute to Andy Warhol. I wonder if this Pope would  likes
Warhol? Perhaps that question could go into the next softball interview. (source)

On June 9th, during the Downy softiest fuzziest of softie softball interviews, Spanish-language magazine La Vanguardia asked the Pope about all this atheism business.
In the face of the advance of atheism, what is your opinion of people who believe that science and religion are mutually exclusive?

There was a rise in atheism in the most existential age, perhaps Sartrian. But after came a step toward spiritual pursuits, of encounter with God, in a thousand ways, not necessarily the traditional religions. The clash between science and faith peaked in the Enlightenment, but that is not so fashionable today, thank God, because we have all realized the closeness between one thing and the other. Pope Benedict XVI has a good teaching about the relation between science and faith. In general lines, the most recent is that the scientists are very respectful with the faith, and the agnostic or atheist scientist says, “I don’t dare to enter that field.”
It's just not cool to consider the existence of gods or spiritual matters as questions that could be addressed by science. Oh, unless you're Richard Dawkins and pretty much any 'New Atheist' these days. Did the Pope miss that or is he simply saying these words to somehow magically transform the world into some other reality not unlike the enchantments he mutters while transforming mere bread into bread they call 'Jesus?' I suspect if he's not aware of the atheism movement, he will be eventually - even if the Dawkinian and Hitchenian ages are by then completely past.

Well, okay. I can see where the average atheist scientist just wants to get their job done and -- because religion usually has nothing to do with their work days -- simply ignores the whole religion thing. But doesn't that just speak to just how irrelevant religion is to science and the real world?

To be honest, I don't care much more than a passing jot what the Pope thinks about atheism. It seems that both him and Benedict are both so impossibly aloof to the reality of the the movement and its actual nature -- supposing they actually care, themselves -- that it looks like nothing more than the Church attempting to dictate reality. This is something they have been unable to do in most places for centuries.

They seem to sit around consulting old books rather than look around to what's happening in the outside world.

You know, I was hoping to see some question and answer about the ongoing sexual abuse scandals and perhaps the nightmare that keeps getting worse over in Ireland with these homes for fallen women and dead babies in disused septic tanks. Not a peep. I suppose I'm just not papal fanboy enough to care which team he's rooting for in the World Cup either.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Catholicism Ready to Go Galactic!

Conspiracy Theorists, don your tinfoil hats! The Vatican, no longer satisfied with being the world's largest theocracy, has set her sights on green men from Mars!

Pope: Aliens can be Catholics too
“Green men, with a long nose and big ears, like children draw,” Francis told worshipers during Mass at his modest Casa Santa Martha residence within the Vatican.

“If tomorrow, for example, an expedition of Martians arrives and some of them come to us … and if one of them says: ‘Me, I want to be baptized!’ what would happen?”

The down-to-earth Argentine pontiff said yes, of course, the spacemen should be embraced and treated as equals, according to reports by Vatican Radio and AFP.
No word yet about how he'll handle same-sex(?) marriage or whether aliens are allowed to use their uber advanced family planning technologies. I'm guessing that after spending millions of years without the Church's guidance, they could be a little out of line.

YOU... WILL... BE... ASSIMILATED! (If you don't eat us or imprison us first.)

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Maltese Journalist Asks: Is the Pope a Closet Atheist & Be Impeached?

Different Pope, same story?
Sometimes, you know that online news services might be fishing a little for links. You know, when they come up with titles to opinion pieces like this.

Is the Pope a closet atheist?

In a world where all is turning possible, what will we, believers – especially we staunch Catholics – do if the Pope wakes up one great day in Rome and declares from his most beautiful balcony at the Vatican that, after all, there isn’t a God?

First off, I love how this is framed. It's this scary new world where all is turning possible! Horror of all horrors! And the Pope admitting there is no God? That seems highly unlikely, but an Atheist can dream.

Much like previous articles and blog posts out there talking about when Catholics are allowed to declare the Pope cray cray and ignore him -- something most Catholics have been doing quite fine in the sack for decades, thank you -- this piece by Victor Calleja is talking about how conservative Catholics can ignore and then shut down the Pope should he become too much of a Communist, Marxist, non-judgemental hippy.

You know, theology aside, and, most importantly, infallibility aside!

Victor talks about the ultimate atheistic horrific scenario. The Pope goes mad or loopy and begins talking actual rational sense for a change about the man in the sky. Natually, Catholics everywhere would go insane and ransack Rome, lay siege on Rome and the rest of the non-believers. You know, rather than actually follow their religion. Will I ever understand?

Apparently, there was great consternation in the Church when Pope John Paul II became too infirm to run the show, but he died, so problem solved. Then (very) old Ratzinger came to the fore but he was a tired old man, so they had to resort to a retirement plan that hasn't been used for over 500 years.

And now we seem to have some sort of progressive talking Pope who keeps dropping lines about getting along with atheists and letting LGBTQ people get on with their lives unmolested. How distressing for the establishment! Where's the safety valve here?
Of course, I have no knowledge of things connected to divinity and theology but I do not think the Vatican, the cardinals or the faithful could have done anything if, instead of just an infirmity of the body, the Pope had an infirmity of the mind. What if a Pope goes mad? 
What if the Pope, who is chosen for life by a band of cardinals, and who is a supreme pontiff and sole arbiter of when he can go, or what he can do and say, goes loopy?
I'll try to withhold my godless sarcasm about whether or not all the Popes were a bit loopy and self-delusional! Instead I'll say that as an ex-Catholic I find discussion like this fascinating. It's like a ridiculous shell containing a gooey non-sensical filling. Was not the Pope ultimately chosen by the Holy Spirit -- essentially God? Do we not see a problem here?
Besides the obvious heresy mentioned above – saying there’s nothing up in heaven after all – he could also start doing out-of-line things like approving gay marriages and adoptions by gay couples or say that sex out of wedlock is permissible under canon law. He might even endorse some particular brand of birth control.
You mean he could start being sensible? I wonder if this is some sort of inherent defence mechanism of the "religion virus?" The urge to shut the very leader of the Church down because the holier-than-him masses do not approve?
Can a Pope be impeached? In the bad old days when popes had concubines and children they even appointed their own ungodly offspring to top positions and even gave them, denying divine meritocracy, sacred posts as cardinals.
And doesn't this tell you something about the Church itself and make you wonder whether or not it is the Church of an all-powerful existent God or just something made up by people?

After calling us Atheists dreary, Calleja ends his article suggesting that universal suffrage be used to choose and maintain a papacy. It makes me wonder if he is Catholic or perhaps a Humanist?
Maybe we could also be asked to go the whole hog and start electing, selecting and deselecting canons, cardinals and the mighty Pope himself by universal suffrage. 
That would be one sure way to solve the dilemma of a senile Pope – have him voted out.

I always thought the story was that it was God who chose the Pope. But apparently it's just a bunch of old guys in flowing gowns and big hats. So why not just have all Catholics vote for their Pope?

Or why not just be honest and realize that if it's Catholics who know better than some Pope or the institution of the Church, then why not ditch the whole papacy thing all together? Why carry on with the charade if this isn't anything more than Humanism? I mean, it seems that if Popes can be so amazingly wrong and individual (conservative) Catholics have this ability to know when the Pope has gone too far then why bother with the Pope? Why bother with God?

Why not vote the Pope out permanently and become Secular Humanists like me? Listen, I'm all for pomp and ceremony and I love the smell of incense. So you can keep the hats and the gowns and the beautiful churches and songs and stuff. Why not base it off the Sunday Assembly?

Monday, 18 November 2013

Conservative Catholics Now Ask: When Is The Pope 'Really' Infallible?

January 1870 cover of Vanity Fair features
Pope Pius IX, the Infallible. (source). See how
he's sitting in his chair? That's important.
A rather interesting short essay has been making the rounds in anti-abortion websites lately.

A definition of infallibility in light of the Pope Francis interviews

All the blogs that link to this essay point back to a LifeSiteNews Special Report. The essay purports to derive its authority from a real smart person in Rome who - for reasons unspecified - would prefer to remain unnamed. Or perhaps someone else made it up. Who knows.
The following essay was written by a theologian in Rome who specializes in ecclesiology.
It would seem as if Pope Francis' recent comments about homosexuality, atheists, poor people etc. have begun to alarm some Catholics who were rather comfortable with the ever slightly more conservative approach of his predecessor.

(Really, he's only been talk up to this point and his talk is only being lauded by progressives because all his predecessors have been stuck in the Middle Ages.)

Even so, now certain Catholics are looking for a way to really tell if the Pope is really really truly speaking infallibly or if he's just making another one of those silly off the cuff comments about atheists potentially not going to Hell or about how one should not judge gay people. I mean, do those really count?

It all depends on whether he's proclaiming these things while on his holy throne.
The Holy Father is infallible in the same way that the Church is infallible when he teaches: as head of the Church, determining an object of faith and morals to be held by the whole Church. This manner of teaching is called ex cathedra, that is, teaching “from the chair.”
Well, okay, I know it's a metaphorical throne but I've been known to do some of my best thinking on a throne.

Based on this theologian's analysis, Francis is, of course, not speaking infallibly when he makes all these, dare I say, progressive comments about social issues.
With regard to the recent statements of Pope Francis, it is obvious—really obvious—that most of his comments are not infallible definitions. Letters to the editor, interviews with journalists, even daily homilies fail to meet the criteria necessary for a statement to be infallible. Although he may be speaking about faith or morals, he is emphatically not making a solemn definition that the Church must hold this teaching.
Oh! It's obvious -- really obvious! See! He's not speaking infallibly!

Hence, there is no need for conservative Catholics to pay any attention to these disquieting remarks. Apparently, he just feels this way and that's okay (the author supposes). No need to listen to any of what he's talking about until he sits in his chair! Silly Pope!

The essay goes on to more or less say that the Pope is only human and has failed to respond to the graces he was given.

Conservative Catholics -- who apparently know better than the Pope -- are still to respect him but not shy away from outright opposing him... should he continue being fallible, naturally. You know, respect him until you just can't take it anymore.
We can look at the Pope’s words and actions, and, with a spirit of humility and charity, come to the conclusion that they are not particularly helpful—or that they are positively counter-productive, even dangerous. In that case, we might have an obligation to speak out or even resist the Pope.
Seems like for some the Pope is only infallible when he's singing the same song as they are. In the end, he's just a man wearing a big silly pointy had, spreading his ridiculous superstitious beliefs -- a human being like everyone else.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Comic Book Heros Make Chemotherapy Easier For Kids! Way Cooler Than Pope.

(souce: Buzzfeed)
So, last night I ranted to my wife about yesterday's post, Why Does This Repulse Me So Much?, which is all about the Pope apparently using frail and sick children to boost his public image.

My wife very wisely pointed me to this most excellent initiative by doctors, Warner Bros, JWT and comic book artists to make chemotherapy more tolerable and as fun as possible for children.

Look, this is way cooler than some old guy in a frock asking dying children to pray to his God for him. Maybe I'm just behind the times or something, but this beats the cassock off the pontiff.

Take a look at this story over at Buzzfeed:

Children’s Cancer Center Rebrands Chemotherapy As “Superformula” : They also redesigned the cancer ward to look like a Super Friends Hall of Justice. An amazing idea.

The idea is to rebrand the children's ward at the A.C. Carmargo Cancer Center into a fully immersive superhero experience.
Covers for intravenous bags were constructed based on characters from the Justice League, creating a child-friendly version of the treatment. Co-developed with doctors, the covers are easy to sterilize and handle and meet all hospital hygiene standards. 
(The) experience went far beyond the covers by also providing a new look to the entire Children’s Ward: the game room was turned into the Hall of Justice, corridors and doors were decorated in the same theme, and the exterior acquired an exclusive entrance for these little heroes.
(source: Buzzfeed)

The children get to read comic books that describe familiar superheros who also have cancer and have to take the very same superformula inside identical cases. The books document struggles and challenges similar to those the children could well have to endure before they get better.

The idea is that this will act as an additional placebo effect.  It presents the treatment in terms children can understand and it provides positive role models - superheros. I would imagine they may not feel as alone or afraid. And their IV covers are identical to those in the comic book.

The children are the true heros here.

Watch this video. Unlike the visit with the Pope in yesterday's post, this one may me weep with joy. Thank goodness for smart and compassionate doctors and multinational media companies. Never thought I'd say that.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Why Does This Repulse Me So Much?

"Pope Francis (then Cardinal Bergoglio) chose a children's hospital 
in Palermo (Buenos Aires) to celebrate the Holy Thursday Mass of the 

Lord's Supper.  There, he washed the feet of 12 sick children."
Right, so I'm likely to get some criticism from someone on this post, but there is something I really need to get off my chest.

It could be baggage left over from my Catholic days, or being a father.

When I saw the picture to the right and read the blog post over at the Archdiocese of Toronto blog I got angry.  Really angry, deep down. I have a really hard time expressing why.

Last Halloween I posted about the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia. This is where there are horrible mutations of fetuses and various other horrendous diseases that afflict the innocent for no apparent reason. It points clearly to either an incompetent, feeble, malicious or non-existent God. Pope Francis' God.

In the post I quoted Dan Barker.
All you have to do is walk into any Children's Hospital and you know there is no God.
Well the Pope, who is, as I understand it, God's main conduit here on Earth - Mr. Infallible Himself - visited a children's hospital in March of this year and washed some kids feet and the crowd went absolutely wild. Many of the children may well still die after horrible suffering, but the reporters snapped photo after photo of this humble man in a frock washed the feet of innocent children.

So many reporters, so many germs - so feeble the immune systems of many of these children. You'll notice that the Pope apparently has not a force field capable of stopping infection from entering the nostrils of this poor child due to the this increased risk. I hope the Pope's visit didn't cause more harm than what was intended - well, assuming the whole thing wasn't one big PR stunt.

So June 3rd, the Pope was visited by some children with cancer (see video above). A young girl with cancer read a letter to him where she assured him they were praying for him. She asked him to pray for them and all the sick children in the world.

The Pope responded that Jesus, dead for 2,000 years, gives them all a big hug. He then asks them one last favour.  To pray for HIM!  I mean, if they're not too busy with chemo or other treatments - with the whole cancer thing and all.

Why does the world fawn all over this man?  What about the doctors trying to save the lives of these children? The researchers looking for a cure or new treatments?  The suffering parents who must walk boldly on with brave faces for their children as they watch their babies weaken and sometimes die?

At least Jesus, who is now apparently un-dead, allegedly healed the sick - although I've been told this was only to prove some point or other. Regardless, what is this Pope capable of?  Apparently, he can manifest invisible hugs from an immaterial dead undead guy. How warm and fuzzy. How sad.

Well I guess it's still more warm and fuzzy than his God who apparently sits by while these children die  - for no apparent reason.  But maybe it is his greater closeness to God that allows Pope Francis to keep faith and be satisfied with only being able to provide psychic hugs from beyond.  To say the least of currying the prayers from dying children.

It's really sad on another level too. I mean, these poor kids seem to believe in this, adore him and probably derive a great deal of hope and comfort from this. The fact it's all bullshit makes me want to weep - really, it does.

But, if my son got cancer, was deathly ill and asked me if he was going to see me in heaven when he passes away, I just don't know if I could explain to him that this wouldn't be the case. I think it would be easier if I told him from the get go - that it's a sleep we go into forever. Yes maybe. I don't know.

Anyway, look, I get it. He's humble - he uses public transit and doesn't use his limousine. Maybe he sleeps in the smallest room of his palace. Perhaps he's just a product of his own past.  Maybe he's just typecast to believe in the whole thing. But there is something about this that makes me ill - as a father of a young child. I'm not sure why I find it so repugnant.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Quebeckers Not So Hot About Quebec Papal Candidate Cardinal Ouellet

So it turns out that one of current frontrunners for the job of Pope is none other than Cardinal Ouellet from here in Quebec.  But most Quebeckers don't give a hoot.  In fact, many hope he doesn't get the job because he was so horrible at his tenure in Quebec, Quebeckers cool to Cardinal Ouellet’s papal candidacy.  Well, would you expect any other reaction from a province full of non-religious secularists who still remember a day when the Church pretty much had their noses stuck high in everyone's business?

Apparently Mr Ouellet was a bit too conservative for even his priest and bishop colleagues.  Which, I suppose, puts him in the front running for the new job in an ever more conservative Vatican.
It’s not just that Cardinal Ouellet is a controversial figure in secular, liberal Quebec, where his conservative Catholic orthodoxy against abortion, birth control, female ordination, gay marriage and secular education caused clashes during his seven years leading the church in the province. 
Even Quebec bishops and priests were split during his tenure and have failed to display much public enthusiasm for his candidacy.
It turns out the good Cardinal spent most of the Quiet Revolution locked away inside a seminary.  He then left the country for years afterward.  So, he's a little old-fashioned and sort of lost track of how the culture has changed here in the province.  Sounds like my parents.  But seriously, people here in Quebec, like this historian, seriously think he's the wrong choice.
“He doesn’t meet people on their ground. He’s incapable of understanding. He’s a man who decides he needs to speak truth, and he doesn’t listen. In his time in Quebec, he didn’t reconnect the church to anyone,” said Louis Rousseau, a theology historian at the Université du Québec à Montréal. “If I were a sworn enemy of the church, I would push for the election of Cardinal Marc Ouellet. He’s going to be a disaster.”
Okay how is this any different from the last Pope? Dude, maybe I should be rooting for this guy.  But seriously, people suffer and die because of the stupid stuff the Vatican says about birth control and abortion.
In the most shocking episode, Quebec’s association of bishops publicly distanced itself from the cardinal in May, 2010, after he declared not even rape could justify abortion.
Yep.  Stupid stuff like that.
Cardinal Ouellet, 68, missed much of Quebec’s progressive and secular revolution that moved the church out of its dominant role in education, health care and social services and saw Quebec women gain reproductive rights.
The historian above pretty much sums things up poetically.
“His dog is dead in Quebec,” he said.

Friday, 8 March 2013

A Tale Of Two Old Popes And An Emperor Quitting Their Jobs.

Celestine V.
According to the excellent book Imperial Exits, by Julius Cicatrix, the only Roman emperor to have ever retired voluntarily ever was Diocletian.  And the way things were going for the Roman empire back in the fourth century, he was one of the very few emperors of the time to even die of natural causes.

According to the story, the stress involved with trying to save a hemorrhaging empire from the brink of total collapse through sweeping institutional, infrastructure and monetary reform really affected him.

Theory is, he had a stroke and decided that work was killing him and he'd better slow things down a bit.  So he had a nice palace built for himself in Split, Croatia and got the hell out of politics.  He lived another three years of comfortable castle-life quietly growing cabbages and other vegetables and then was said to have died peacefully.  Such was the brutal fate meted out by God to the last, and most severe, persecutor of the Christians.  He sure did get what was coming to him, didn't he? Unbelievers, fear Yahweh.

I'm sure we can all think of another imperial sort of fellow in ruby slippers who decided he'd had it with all the stress and was whisked away to a palace of his very own.  Maybe his empire was on the brink too.  The Pope is pretty much the closest thing the Occident has had to an emperor for, well, millenium.  I mean, until the Renaissance I guess they were much the same thing.

While, much like Diocletian, the Pope cultivates his own garden of vegetables, or whatever he'll be doing all cloistered up away from the din of scandals and coverups, we can think back to the last Pope who did a runner when the going got tough.

Luckily, NPR does most of this work for me in The Hermit Pope Who Set The Precedent For Benedict XVI.

You see, unlike Emperors who can apparently just retire when they want to, Popes need to find precedents to let them quit their jobs without dying.  Presumably, the precedents must also have their precedents, and so on.  Of course, this cannot go on ad infinitum, so at some point I guess God told someone they were allowed to retired and not die.  It's all very complicated, so trust the Church scholars on this one.
Only two popes have resigned voluntarily. One is Pope Benedict, now in his final days in office. The other is here, amid the mountains and ancient hilltop towns of central Italy. His name's Celestine V, or, as the Italians put it, Chelestino Quinto.
Celestine was an aesthetic hermit, which is another way of saying he was a mentally ill person who self-harmed himself and justified it with supernatural beliefs.
REEVES: George Ferzoco is from the department of theology and religious studies at Bristol University in England. He's an expert on Celestine V, or Pietro di Morrone, as Celestine was known before becoming pope. Ferzoco says Pietro practiced mortification of the flesh - the belief that pain distracts the mind away from worldly temptations and towards God. He wore a horsehair shirt and an iron girdle. 
FERZOCO: The combination of the hair shirt and the iron chains, which he would wear around his skin, these would have cut very deeply into his skin and caused profuse regular bleeding.
This kind of reminds me of people who used to brag to me that they shaved with just a razor and no cream.  As if this was impressive or something.  Well it's dumb and so is wearing horsehair shirts and iron girdles.  If you're doing this voluntarily then I hope you're getting some fetish-like satisfaction from it, because I'm not going to get impressed and fawn over you like you've made some great achievement.

You know, I'm certain there was just as much suffering and pain in this world back then as there is now and this guy just needlessly added to it. Why not feed a starving child?  Oh no, I guess God's not into that - he likes to see bleeding gashes.

It seems that poor Pope Benedict also shares the same dubious position as Celestine did.  He too was  head of a notoriously crooked crime syndicate.  Although, we've already established that Celestine may have been a bit of a hairy-shirt wearing masochist, so maybe it wasn't so bad for him.
Then, in 1292, the pope, Nicholas IV, died. For the next two years, the church's endlessly scheming cardinals were deadlocked over a successor. They had heard about Pietro, or Peter, as some called him. They figured he was old and easy to manipulate, so they set off on horseback to his mountain cave.
Those scheming cardinals.  Some things never change.  Let's look at some of the terms of endearment in this article for pope Celestine and his merry band of cardinals and bishops back in the 13th century.

endlessly scheming cardinals

appalling pope

stooge cardinals

the rejection of a church mired by greed and politics
For a start, he was extremely feeble. He was also very much under the influence of the king of Sicily and appointed a number of stooge cardinals, really. And he really had no head for administration or business, so it was a rather inglorious period.
It's funny how history seems to repeat itself.  But there is something a little different these days, a more educated public.  And this is what blows my mind as someone now looking in from the outside.  

Diocletian's Palace in Croatia.
Back in Celestine's time the hoi polloi likely had no clue whatsoever what was going on.  Anything resembling democracy had been lost with Athens hundreds of years before and any concept of freedom of press and speech was centuries into the future.  Most people were in the dark and illiterate. People back then had their excuse - they didn't know.  The ones in the know also happened to be the ones who had or wanted the power.

These days, what's the excuse?  As an ex-Catholic, I have no idea why Catholics put up with this.  They can see the scandal everywhere.  What's going on here?

Anyway, Diocletian got stuff done.  He instituted ideological, administrative, legal, military and broad-based economic reforms that some say extended the life of the Empire by a full century.  All of this was done over a split and corrupt Roman Empire on the verge of total collapse. Granted, he also persecuted Christians - not good, not good at all.  I do not condone that one iota.  However, on the whole it is an impressive legacy.

Celestine's legacy seems a tad bit less impressive - and he presumably had God on his side rather than against him.  I wonder how Benedict's legacy will be seen by future generations.  Will he be remembered solely as the second Pope to quit voluntarily?

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Pope Shmope! It's Choosing The Next Doctor Who That Keeps Me Up at Night!

(source: The Pope Must Die.)
So apparently Joe Ratzinger has had it with being pope and he's gone and given up the whole shebang. Now the whole world is aflutter with who's going to get the next pointy hat.

Well, I think PZ Myers has a better attitude in his short post Who care if the pope retires.  History has pretty much made it a forgone conclusion - it will be a different dude (definitely a dude) but the same medieval hogwash coated with centuries worth of made up jargon meant to silence and confuse the naysayers.

In fact, I get way way more nervous when they need to replace the actor playing the Doctor on the British series Doctor Who.  I mean, that keeps me up at night.

And it's probably because at least Doctor Who is a good franchise that's been fairly decent since 1963. Okay, so I wasn't thrilled with Colin Baker and some of the Sylvester McCoy stories got a little too silly for my tastes, but on the whole I really feel a sense of dread when the next regeneration rolls around.  What if they wreck the franchise with the next one?

The last regeneration, David Tennant to Matt Smith, there was some serious discussion about having a woman Doctor or even a black Doctor.  There was a real chance of one of those happening, which I was pretty okay with.  But is there any chance of the Pope not being an old dude?  Not really.

I guess Catholics feel the same way?  It's too bad their franchise has pretty much sucked for, as far as I can tell, the last two millennia.

I suppose progressive Catholics yearn in their hearts that perhaps a non-white non-homophobic feminist would become Pope.  Well, at the rate we're going it could be another 600 years on since the Church is still coming to grips with retirement (and pensions?).

Do fans of James Bond feel the same way?  Of course, any secret agent other than Sean Connery is a fraud, so I won't go any further into that.

To me the Doctor Who franchise is precious and worth saving, while the Catholic Church is irrelevant, dangerous, out-dated and not at all entertaining.  I mean, the Timelords already have more awesome wardrobes.

I know some will see this as a low blow but I'm pretty sure the Doctor would never have tolerated child sex abuse within the high council of Gallifrey.  He would have taken the whole place dooown  and blown some stuff up with his sonic screwdriver or something.

And I'm pretty sure he would have been okay with pre-marital sex and letting people get access to condoms.  Unlike his Catholic Church equivalent who seems to be squeamish about the whole thing.

And that whole gay thing... I don't think that's a problem.

But let's be serious now.

Unfortunately, it does sort of matter who becomes the next Pope.  Because there was a difference that even I noticed between Ratzinger (aka Benedict) and his previous incarnation, John Paul II (who even I sort of liked).

The Church actually went into retrograde with Joe Ratzinger and started sounding almost as crazy as Mel Gibson and the traditionalist Latin ilk.  The Church actually progressed a little and became less hardline conservative with John Paul II - if you can imagine that's even possible.

So I hope the next pope is either a socially progressive Timelord or less scary than the the current one - as far as I actually care about the question at all.

(Source: Benetton pulls ad with Pope kissing imam)
But knowing the Church, Pope Michael may actually have a better shot at head honcho.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Looks like the Vatican has nun-o-phobia too.

When I was a kid I had a piano teacher who was an old Catholic nun.  She was (and probably still is) a simply delightful woman from Minnesota.  I, on the other hand, was not a very good student.  I would practice frantically just before the lesson neglecting any work during the rest of the week.  Pianos are loud instruments and I never felt comfortable practicing while anyone else was home.

 She was my only exposure to nuns, as I only attended Catholic kindergarten as a small child and do not remember most of it.  Thus I do not have the same kind of intense nun-o-phobia that many of the previous generations of Catholics seem to harbour.  I've been told stories of nuns that seemed to be really bitter old cows who despised any sort of fun and  practically became violent with children.

When I think of these nuns that hilarious scene from the Blues Brothers pops into my head.

But enough about me.  While listening to the Ask An Atheist (One Nation Indivisible) podcast, I heard that the Vatican is coming down hard on American nuns.

From National Post Vatican blasts U.S. nuns for pursuing ‘radical feminist themes’:
VATICAN CITY – The Vatican has issued a scathing condemnation of the main association of Catholic nuns in the United States for taking liberal stances on contraception, homosexuality and female priests. 
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) said in a statement on Thursday it was “stunned” by the Vatican report which pointed to “serious doctrinal problems” and “unacceptable positions” on a range of issues.
And later on...
Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice lobby and members of LCWR, said on Twitter: “I think we scare them.”
“It’s painfully obvious that the leadership of the Church is not used to having educated women form thoughtful opinions and engage in dialogue.
Great statement! Dissent in the ranks!  I think I like Simone too. This is an interesting statement because I think she may be right on the mark - the Vatican has always feared women.  This seems prevalent in the Abrahamic religions.
Mel Gibson is a sympathizer with ultra-
conservative Society of St Pius X.

But these nuns have been questioning the Vatican for a long time now - since at least 1977.  Why so serious now, Joe Ben?

My parents were great sympathizers with the Society of Saint Pius the X (post: Was I a True Catholic?), soldiers for the cause.  I can remember them writing a letter to a certain Cardinal Ratzinger in the Vatican requesting that the Pope John Paul II reinstate the traditional Latin Catholic mass.  Joseph Ratzinger was then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - a fitting position for a theologically conservative scholar. They received a very positive reply from the future pope's office expressing heartfelt sympathy with their plight.  Now that he has his new pointy hat, it seems like Joseph Ratzinger Pope Benedict is trying to being conservatives like my parents back into the fold.
At the same time he has made overtures to ultra-conservative religious movements such as the Society of Saint Pius X, which this week said it was on its way to re-integrating with the Vatican after breaking away in the 1980s.
It's too bad all the comparatively good work of the previous (highly popular) pope is being undone by the current one.  In the end I agree with The Friendly Atheist (The Vatican Fears U.S. ‘Feminist’ Nuns):
Every dollar anyone gives to their Catholic parish helps contribute to their Vatican opinion, their atrocities, their vile teachings. How can anyone continue to support an organization that insists on attacking the women in their own ranks simply because they fear them becoming equal?
 What we can do is continue to point out the inequality and injustice and continue to do our own good work for humanity. When those who grow weary of the hate, who realize they are pawns in a power struggle, are ready to break free, we will be there as a vast and diverse community that welcomes reason with our Humanism.
He echoes some sentiments expressed in Annie Laurie Gaylor's excellent appeal to Catholics to leave the Church: Quit the Catholic Church

It's true.  Catholic nuns and Catholic's in general are better than their leaders.  Ghandi said:
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
Here's what I say. 

 I dislike your Pope, I do like your Catholics.  Your Catholics are so unlike your Pope.  

And the world is a better place for it.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Was I a true Catholic?

A few days ago I came home from work to find my son playing with a plastic rosary.  Although I knew my wife had ordered this for free off the web and I'm fine with my son being exposed to religion, I still caught myself feeling a bit uncomfortable.

The idea is not to indoctrinate him in Catholicism, but rather to educate him about as many religions as possible.  I don't have problems with having Hindu prayer beads, statues of Ganesha, Hekate, Venus etc.  But the rosary still seems to have some power over me.  I don't believe in any of it and I don't think it holds any metaphysical power over me.  It's more like a PTSD trigger - it stirs up some still fairly raw emotions.

This experience got me thinking about my past.  Why did Catholicism fuck me up so much while many other Catholics I know, practising, lapsed or ex-, don't seem to be messed up at all.  What's the difference?  Was what I grew up in truly Catholicism or was it something else?  Was it really the religion that messed me up so much?

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