Don't click before tomorrow
June 28, 2011 6:30 AM   Subscribe

Vatican officials unveiled a new Internet portal Monday, a service that will aggregate the latest news from all its various media in a campaign to reach a growing online congregation across the world.

Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, who heads the Vatican office that created the service, said Pope Benedict XVI plans to activate the site, www.news.va, with a click on Tuesday, and it will be online for the public on Wednesday. The portal, he said, functions as an aggregator, gathering in one place the principal news items printed or broadcast by other Vatican media outlets: the newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Vatican Radio, Vatican Television Center, the Vatican press office and information service and the Fides missionary news agency. The site, emphasized Celli, "will not have a specific editorial slant. Each of the outlets will maintain its own autonomy and identity". For the first few months after going online, the site will be available exclusively in English and Italian. Plans are in the works to include Spanish, French and Portuguese versions.

I kinda like the bit about it's not having a specific editorial slant.
posted by aqsakal (72 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Do they accept Papal?
posted by ShutterBun at 6:31 AM on June 28, 2011 [17 favorites]


A "growing congregation?"

Am I mistaken in thinking the Catholic church has been in a sort of worldwide decline, recruitment-wise, for about 40 years?
posted by rokusan at 6:34 AM on June 28, 2011


Growing ONLINE congregation. (probably says more about the pervasiveness of the internet than the Church, however)
posted by ShutterBun at 6:36 AM on June 28, 2011


I really hope it's going to be all gloss, reflections and rounded edges so the universe can collapse under the weight of "Vatican 2.0" jokes.
posted by griphus at 6:37 AM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


BREACH IN RATIONALITY HULL--CONTACT LULZSEC
posted by DU at 6:38 AM on June 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Am I mistaken in thinking the Catholic church has been in a sort of worldwide decline, recruitment-wise, for about 40 years?

Only in the developed world. The Roman Catholic Church is very active in recruiting in still-developing areas, helping to fight the chronic low birthrates that have long-plagued the third world.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:39 AM on June 28, 2011 [18 favorites]


Does Pope shit in the threads?
posted by Anything at 6:39 AM on June 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


I wonder how much molestation coverage they'll be providing.
posted by andoatnp at 6:53 AM on June 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


I hear the site security will be infallible!
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:56 AM on June 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I kinda like the bit about it's not having a specific editorial slant.

Note that means that news.va won't have a particular editorial slant. L'Osservatore Romano, Vatican Radio, Fides, etc. all have particular editorial slants.
posted by Jahaza at 7:08 AM on June 28, 2011


That explains the Applewood smoke raising from the Vatican this morning.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:11 AM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder how much molestation coverage they'll be providing.

that will be in http://www.news.va/shota/
posted by fleetmouse at 7:20 AM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's Raining Florence Henderson: "That explains the Applewood smoke raising from the Vatican this morning."

That's part of their master plan to attract new congregants. Bacon is irresistible!
posted by zarq at 7:21 AM on June 28, 2011


I hear the site security will be infallible!

Not until they upgrade their servers to OS X Cathedra.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:21 AM on June 28, 2011 [16 favorites]


It's interesting to me how an outfit like the Vatican can spend, doubtless, hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars on a project like this and still display that they fundamentally do not get it.

"Portal"? "Portal"? This is not 1998. Yahoo! is not king anymore.Webrings are long dead.

Yeah, news aggregators can be fun. But who is going to waste time with an aggregator that is non-configurable and limited to just the sources an authority likes?

Plus, of course, the cute claim that the news sites (all owned by the Vatican) will remain independent and the portal won't exercise any editorial control. Yeah, and if the PRC set up a portal for all official PRC news services they wouldn't need to have the portal exercise editorial control either, because the editorial control is already built in. Do they really think anyone is stupid enough to think that claim of no editorial control means anything?

Ultimately though this just seems sort of pathetic, like all the various bits of Christianist merch that are nothing but blatant knock offs of internet memes that faded into obscurity a couple of years ago.

Is there something about religion that prevents them from doing anything that isn't outdated and ultimately sort of fusty and pathetic?

"I know Cardinal Oldguy, let's build a 'web portal', all the kids are into that Yahoo! thing these days, they'll think it's 'the bomb'"
posted by sotonohito at 7:22 AM on June 28, 2011


Lighten up, Atheist Francis.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:32 AM on June 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


sotonohito: " Yeah, news aggregators can be fun. But who is going to waste time with an aggregator that is non-configurable and limited to just the sources an authority likes?"

Why wouldn't they? I regularly read Talking Points Memo and watch Fox Newschannel. Both report news with a very specific editorial bias. Would be willing to bet that most of their readers/viewers do not actively seek out dissenting / contrary opinions and perspectives, either. But even if I'm wrong, people still read TPM and watch Fox.
posted by zarq at 7:34 AM on June 28, 2011


Lighten up, Francis of Assisi.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:36 AM on June 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


aqsakal: "Pope Benedict XVI plans to activate the site, www.news.va, with a click on Tuesday"

"Your Holiness, it is time to activate the website."
Pope Benedict squints his eyes and looks at the screen. "What is 'Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager'?"
"Don't worry about that, you Holiness. Just click on that little plus sign next to the folder labeled 'Web Sites'."
"Ehhh..." Pope Benedict fusses with the mouse a bit. "What plus sign?"
The Vatican IT director sighs with exasperation and grabs the mouse. "Here this one, see?"
"Oh! I guess that could be called a plus sign..."
"Now, right-click on 'Default Web Site'."
"Is the what this new 'internet portal' is called? I thought it was news dot va?"
"Umm, well, that's what we call it inside the Vatican." *Cough* "It was a bit rushed."
"Oh." Pope Benedict fiddles around with the mouse and looks at it for a moment. "What do you mean, 'right-click?'"
"Oh for Christ's - sorry Father! Sorry! There are two buttons on the mouse, see? Click that one."
Pope Benedict right-clicks and looks at the menu. "Oh, something came up! What is this?"
"Don't worry about it. Just click on 'Start'."
"Left or right click?"
"IT DOESN'T MATTER! Oh. Sorry you Holiness. Sorry."
Pope Benedict gives the IT Director a dark look, right-clicks 'Start' and launches the web portal. He then turns around, force lightning crackling around his fingers.
"I don't like your tone..."
posted by charred husk at 7:39 AM on June 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


Papal Blue
posted by Trurl at 7:45 AM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'll wait for www.news.va/fffffffuuuuuuuuuuuuu/ to open before I visit.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 7:49 AM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pope Benedict gives the IT Director a dark look, right-clicks 'Start' and launches the web portal. He then turns around, force lightning crackling around his fingers.
"I don't like your tone..."


Was that covered in the Hitler Youth advanced classes?
posted by mikelieman at 8:17 AM on June 28, 2011


Was that covered in the Hitler Youth advanced classes?

You know, we were having a lot of fun discussing this, and making some good points, without bringing up a completely irrelevant fact. Membership in the Hitler-Jugen was required by law at the time. It's not like he personally eagerly killed a bunch of Jews, or fought on the Eastern Front, or made this new web portal compatible only with IE6 and filled with blink tags.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:51 AM on June 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


I wonder if they're using a CMS?

"Your holiness, whatever you do, do not touch the red X. Hit expire instead."

Oh I hit the red X, now what?

"nevermind."
posted by stormpooper at 8:52 AM on June 28, 2011


Papal bullsite.
posted by Decani at 9:20 AM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not like he personally eagerly killed a bunch of Hobbits with IE6 and blink tags. Well - okay, it's kinda like that.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:28 AM on June 28, 2011


Be honest, though. You'd eagerly kill a bunch of hobbits if it looked like you could get away with it.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:33 AM on June 28, 2011


Membership in the Hitler-Jugen was required by law at the time.

Reporting suspected Jews was also required by law at the time.

That doesn't make it the right thing to do.
posted by mikelieman at 10:23 AM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hitler loves a good derail.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:24 AM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wearing a safety belt is also required by law.

That doesn't make it the right thing to do.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:27 AM on June 28, 2011


My safety belt is made from the finest hobbit-skin leather. Hobbit skin really is an amazing material. You can wear it all of the time for all kinds of occasions, and yet after a hundred years, it will still protect you.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:48 AM on June 28, 2011


Tomorrowful wrote without bringing up a completely irrelevant fact. Membership in the Hitler-Jugen was required by law at the time.

Actually, it is a relevant fact.

Despite the law, membership in the Hitler Youth was not 100%. Some morally upstanding young Germans chose to break the law and did not join the Hitler Youth. Most of them suffered for that decision.

But Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger when faced with the question of doing what was easy, or doing what was right chose to do what was easy. He saw some of his peers doing the right thing, and he chose not to join them.

If he then went on to become a plumber I wouldn't harp on the fact. I don't expect everyone to be a hero, to do what is right and proper even if will almost certainly result in problems for them.

However, Ratzinger went on to become a religious leader, and eventually Pope. He claims moral authority, he claims to **be** moral authority. His job consists almost entirely of telling people what is good, and what is not good.

And because of that his youthful decision to do what was easy and turn his back on what was right is a legitimate topic.
posted by sotonohito at 11:01 AM on June 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


...in a thread about a web portal.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:08 AM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


However, Ratzinger went on to become a religious leader, and eventually Pope. He claims moral authority, he claims to **be** moral authority. His job consists almost entirely of telling people what is good, and what is not good.

Congratulations, you've rediscovered Donatism. Catholic theology is quite clear that the pope does not govern or teach on the authority of his own holiness.
posted by Jahaza at 11:28 AM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Doesn't holding a man in his 80s accountable for moral failings from when he was 14 seems a little extreme? I was also under the impression that all of the evidence was that he joined the Hitler youth.as required by law, but didn't participate in any of their activities. There's plenty of shameful conduct by the German churches during Hitler's reign without pinning it on a teenager just because he became Pope.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:03 PM on June 28, 2011


Actually, it is a relevant fact.

This is not a general thread about Benedict XVI or his youth. It's about a fucking website. A website that, from what I can see, is more a general Vatican organ than a personal mouthpiece for the Pope himself. That's why I'm saying it's not relevant. The degree to which his youth is relevant to his current position is certainly a discussion we can have; it is not, however, particularly well-related to an FPP whose topic is, unless I've missed something, a goddamn web portal and a twitter account.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:04 PM on June 28, 2011


In Soviet Russia, Hitler derails YOU!

Wait, what?
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:34 PM on June 28, 2011


It bothered me - probably more than it should - that when the Vatican web site has multilingual error message pages, it didn't include ecclesiastical latin messages.

it looks like they've changed the main vatican.va site to redirect to the home page instead of issuing a 404, now, however.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:14 PM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


rmd1023: "It bothered me - probably more than it should - that when the Vatican web site has multilingual error message pages, it didn't include ecclesiastical latin messages. "
404

You have reached a non-working page at the Vatican. As penance, please say the following Actus Contritionis - Act of Contrition. And for heaven's sake, say it like you mean it:

Deus meus, ex toto corde poenitet me omnium meorum peccatorum, eaque detestor, quia peccando, non solum poenas a Te iuste statutas promeritus sum, sed praesertim quia offendi Te, summum bonum, ac dignum qui super omnia diligaris. Ideo firmiter propono, adiuvante gratia Tua, de cetero me non peccaturum peccandique occasiones proximas fugiturum.

Amen.

posted by zarq at 1:27 PM on June 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


charred husk: There are two buttons on the mouse, see? Click that one."
Pope Benedict right-clicks and looks at the menu. "Oh, something came up! What is this?" "Don't worry about it. Just click on 'Start'." "Left or right click?"


No clicking at all, in fact!
posted by Cortes at 2:46 PM on June 28, 2011


Jahaza No, this isn't Donatism. I don't care about the sacraments, or even whether or not he officially is making moral pronouncements. He is defacto making moral pronouncements, and people are listening to them.

Look at how the merest hint that in an interview with a biographer he may have said that condoms are the lesser evil in some contexts got people amazingly excited. It wasn't even an official pronouncement but people were making out as if it were a game changing utterance. If that isn't moral authority and moral pronouncements I don't know what is.

Regardless of whether or not Catholic dogma officially makes him a moral authority is irrelevant, he is effectively a moral authority.

As for who can mumble magic words over a cracker, I really don't care as I think there's nothing magic in the words and the cracker stays exactly the same no matter who says the magic words.

Bulgaroktonos If Ratzinger were just some guy I'd agree with you. But he's not just some guy. He's an obscenely powerful person who influences the thinking of billions and his entire job is making moral pronouncements.

I think it is not at all improper to hold that sort of person to a higher standard than we hold normal people. For a position like that you don't want a former Nazi, not even an unwilling one.

If they had to choose a German, I'm sure there are dozens, even hundreds, of Germans still living who chose not to join the HJ. Surely one of them would be a better moral leader, yes?

Tomorrowful The Church is a top down authoritarian organization where crossing the Pope can lead to instant expulsion. Just look at how quickly people are fired for issues they care about (ie: not pedophilia, but important stuff like people ordaining women or even just saying it seems like a good idea). Therefore the head of that organization is an unavoidable part of absolutely everything the organization does.

And of course it's the personal mouthpiece of the Pope. You think people who disagree in any significant way with his dogma are going to be speaking on official Vatican channels?
posted by sotonohito at 3:01 PM on June 28, 2011


I think it is not at all improper to hold that sort of person to a higher standard than we hold normal people. For a position like that you don't want a former Nazi, not even an unwilling one.

Once the Catholic Church finds out about this new standard for judging a person's past actions, the Apostle Paul is going to get a stern talking-to.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:05 PM on June 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


> If they had to choose a German, I'm sure there are dozens, even hundreds, of Germans still living who chose not to join the HJ. Surely one of them would be a better moral leader, yes?

Who gives a crap? He's their Pope. What you say is irrelevant and tiresome.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 3:07 PM on June 28, 2011


sotonohito: I think it is not at all improper to hold that sort of person to a higher standard than we hold normal people. For a position like that you don't want a former Nazi, not even an unwilling one.

To be blunt, your entire post is nonsense. You are obviously entitled to dislike the Catholic Church and its Pope, but pretty much everything you've said is inaccurate. If you want to critique the Church effectively, you might consider studying it a bit. To your Nazi claims: He was a teenager, it was required by the state, and even a cursory glance at the facts will show you that he and his family were always firmly anti-Nazi.

The Church is a top down authoritarian organization where crossing the Pope can lead to instant expulsion.

Pardon me, but this shows how unfamiliar you are with the actual operation of Church hierarchy. There are many, many, "rogue" priests and even bishops who are not fully in line with the orthodox teachings of the magisterium. The Pope does not send them pink slips. He does not send the Inquisition. There is no "instant expulsion" in the way you seem to be using it here.

And of course it's the personal mouthpiece of the Pope.

Again, no, this is not the case. This site is a news portal. That's it. If you spent a week reading the different publications you'd see the variety in opinion. For the "official" words of the Pope you'll still have to go here: http://www.vatican.va/.

In all of your claims you seem to be referring to a Monty Python-esque caricature of the Church. Where the real thing is concerned, there is no eye of Sauron, no omnipotent cabal meting out swift punishment to any wayward underlings. The Pope doesn't sit in his throne-room signing off on everything that everyone "below" him says or does. As an institution it is made up of weak and sinful humans and is by no means above correction, but for goodness sake get some of your facts straight.
posted by Cortes at 3:47 PM on June 28, 2011


In fairness to his Holiness, he's really doing all this just to expel Charles VIII from Italy.
posted by jfuller at 3:55 PM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh man I am signing thepope@vatican.net.org up to so much midget porn.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:15 PM on June 28, 2011


Regardless of whether or not Catholic dogma officially makes him a moral authority is irrelevant, he is effectively a moral authority.

I never said he wasn't a moral authority. He most certainly is. But he is a moral authority because of his office, not because of his personal holiness. It's like military officers. They're not generals because they're good at being generals (though we hope they are), they're generals because the government has appointed them generals.

This is not precisely the Donatist controversy (over baptism), but it's closely related. A Christian holding your rigorist position (that someone cannot exercise moral authority if they have committed some crime), would likely arrive at Donatism (strictly speaking) in due course.

Your rigorist opinion that joining the Hitler Youth precludes one from exercising moral authority would also require you to condemn as lacking moral authority Hans Scholl and Sophie Scholl, who, after all, joined the Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls respectively, regardless of what they did later.

As for who can mumble magic words over a cracker, I really don't care as I think there's nothing magic in the words and the cracker stays exactly the same no matter who says the magic words.

This is quite offensive. There's a way to disagree ... and a way not to disagree.
posted by Jahaza at 4:27 PM on June 28, 2011


As Cortes points out, much of what you write is nonsense:

Just look at how quickly people are fired for issues they care about (ie: not pedophilia, but important stuff like people ordaining women or even just saying it seems like a good idea).

The Pope did recently fire a Bishop for (among other things) writing that ordaining women might be a good idea. He made that statement in 2006. He didn't lose his job until 2011, which is hardly instant.
posted by Jahaza at 4:32 PM on June 28, 2011


In Soviet Russia, Hitler derails YOU commences an ill-advised land war in winter!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:37 PM on June 28, 2011


He was a teenager, it was required by the state, and even a cursory glance at the facts will show you that he and his family were always firmly anti-Nazi.

Maybe this is a generational/cultural thing. I feel that I shouldn't have to explain that people don't care under what circumstances you joined the Nazis.

You. Joined. The. Nazis.

Period. End of story. Say "Hello" to Uncle Adolph when you get to Hell.
posted by mikelieman at 5:34 PM on June 28, 2011


YOU PROVED YOUR POINT AND WON, GOOD JOB, HAVE A BROWNIE

NOW ABOUT THAT WEB PORTAL, WHAT
posted by shakespeherian at 5:56 PM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I feel that I shouldn't have to explain that people don't care under what circumstances you joined the Nazis.

1. He did not "join the Nazis". Neither he nor any member of his immediate family were ever members of the Nazi party. Again, because it doesn't seem to be sinking in: He was compulsorily registered in the Hitler Youth once he came of age, as was every other German teenaged male.

Excerpt from an interview in his book, Salt of the Earth. Emphasis mine.

Seewald: "Were you in the Hitler Youth?"

Ratzinger: "At first we weren't, but when the compulsory Hitler Youth was introduced in 1941, my brother was obliged to join. I was still too young, but later, as a seminarian, I was registered in the HY. As soon as I was out of the seminary, I never went back. That was difficult, because the tuition reduction, which I really needed, was tied to proof of attendance at the HY. Thank goodness, there was a very understanding mathematics teacher. He himself was a Nazi but an honest man, who said to me, ‘Just go once and get the document, so that we have it …' When he saw that I simply didn't want to, he said, 'I understand, I'll take care of it,' and so I was able to stay free of it."


2. You, personally don't seem to care about the circumstances, but in fact, "people" do.

AP: Israel Praises Pope Despite Past Nazi Ties

NYT: Few See Taint in Service By Pope in Hitler Youth

Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League :

We welcome the new Papacy of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. From the Jewish perspective, the fact that he comes from Europe is important, because he brings with him an understanding and memory of the painful history of Europe and of the 20th Century experience of European Jewry. Having lived through World War II, Cardinal Ratzinger has great sensitivity to Jewish history and the Holocaust.
posted by Cortes at 6:08 PM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


You. Joined. The. Nazis.

Period. End of story. Say "Hello" to Uncle Adolph when you get to Hell.


No, it's not the end of the story. If it was, we'd condemn Hans Scholl and Sophie Scholl instead of venerating their memory.
posted by Jahaza at 6:15 PM on June 28, 2011


No, it's not the end of the story. If it was, we'd condemn Hans Scholl and Sophie Scholl instead of venerating their memory.

Perhaps if Ratzinger had been arrested while actively resisting the Nazis, tried for treason, found guilty, condemned to death and beheaded then the comparison would be warranted, but by comparing Ratzinger, the lowest form of toad who "Went along to get along -- with Nazis" to Hans and Sophie Scholl, you insult their memory and sacrifice.

I would have been ashamed to even mention them in the same context.
posted by mikelieman at 7:58 PM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Funny, I'd have thought the lowest form of behavior was active collaboration and mass murder, not pro forma membership in mandatory organization.

I agree with you that Ratzinger's behavior was not heroic like those of the Scholl's, but you're the one who wrote:

I feel that I shouldn't have to explain that people don't care under what circumstances you joined the Nazis.

You. Joined. The. Nazis.

Period. End of story.


But now you're saying, oh, not period, not end of story, eh? Once you admit that there's an exception, a possibility of redemption afterwards, it becomes a question of where you draw the line. A much harder question than the black and white test you proposed.
posted by Jahaza at 8:22 PM on June 28, 2011


I would have been ashamed to even mention them in the same context.

So, you condemn all 2.3 million children registered in the HY as evil, irredeemable Nazis unless they resisted and/or were killed? You sure you want to back yourself into that corner?
posted by Cortes at 9:41 PM on June 28, 2011


Holy derail, Batman!
posted by deborah at 12:13 AM on June 29, 2011


Cortes: " Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League : "

Does not speak for all Jews, no matter how much he would like to think he does. No matter how much he frames himself as being a Jewish spokesperson.

There was a great deal of concern in many Jewish circles that the newly elected leader of the Catholic Church had a past history in the Hitler Youth. Much of that concern is still ongoing, thanks to several public flubs by the Vatican.

Many of us don't trust the Church. This story hit the wires only yesterday. It has only rarely given us reason to do so, and has a long, clear history of persecution of Jews.
posted by zarq at 5:29 AM on June 29, 2011


Cortes wrote To your Nazi claims: He was a teenager, it was required by the state

And yet there were teenagers at the time who refused to join the HJ. Teenagers with greater moral clarity than a young Joseph Ratzinger had. Teenagers who were willing to stand up for what was right, even if that meant inconvenience or even death. Ratzinger, when faced with the choice of inconvenience or joining the HJ had only one question: "where do I sign up?"

That is not the mark of a man with moral convictions worth listening to.

There are many, many, "rogue" priests and even bishops who are not fully in line with the orthodox teachings of the magisterium. The Pope does not send them pink slips.

For things that matter they get fired. Not for little, inconsequential things. Things like raping children, covering up for people who rape children, spreading murderous lies that condoms cause AIDS as part of a deliberate effort by racist Europeans to wipe out Africans are tiny little peccadillos of behavior and naturally the Pope cares not one whit about such pedestrian affairs.

But if you do something truly monstrous you're out on your ass. Take, for example, the wholly vile and utterly unforgivable crime of suggesting that ordaining women might be a good idea. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/vatican_decrees_excommunication_for_participation_in_ordination_of_women/

If you spent a week reading the different publications you'd see the variety in opinion.

Does that variety in opinion include thundering denunciations of the protection of rapists and the demand that the Church turn over all rapists to secular (ie: real) authorities? No?

Does that "variety in opinion" include demands that women be ordained? No?

Does that "variety in opinion" include pro-contraception stances? No?

So, in other words, there's a "variety in opinon" ranging from wholehearted gleeful and enthusiastic repeating of Ratzinger's positions, to qualified and restrained repeating of Ratzinger's positions.

I'm sure the official organs of the PRC also have a variety of opinion, ranging all the way from the position that PRC is the best thing ever, to the position that the PRC is merely the best thing to have happened in the last 100 years. Will you be praising them next? Declaring that the official organs of the PRC are, somehow, not actually the official organs of the PRC?

Jahaza wrote They're not generals because they're good at being generals (though we hope they are), they're generals because the government has appointed them generals.

So we shouldn't criticize them if they've taken actions that indicate that they have a lack of the necessary mental constitution to be good generals?

They **should** be good at being generals. I'll admit that this is not always the case, but it's the ideal to be striven for.

The same applies, even more so I'd argue, to moral authorities. Even if we completely accept your argument that somehow the institution itself has the ability to confer moral authority, that hardly means we should be appointing people of bad moral character to head the organization and get all the moral authority the organization can give them.

When given the option of selecting a genuinely moral person, and selecting a scumbag, to be the ultimate moral authority, should not the Catholic Church try and avoid the scumbag?

regardless of what they did later.

Not at all. It's precisely the "what they did later" that matters. The two heroes you mentioned, who IMO should never be sullied by any association with Ratzinger's cowardice, went on to later do great things and suffered mightily for their bravery.

Ratzinger went on to keep his head down, not make waves, and after the war was over he went on to work tirelessly to preserve the "honor" of the Church by using threat of excommunication to keep the crimes of rapist priests secret.

We see that exactly the same sort of moral cowardice that impelled him to take the easier path, join the HJ, keep his head down during the reign of the Nazis, and generally go along with the flow regardless of the morality of that decision continued into his later life.

And now he sits on a literal throne of gold and decrees that poverty stricken people must be forced to endlessly reproduce, risk AIDS, and so forth based on his "morality". He sits on high and decrees that people who do nothing more than suggest policy changes in the Church be expelled.

I see no difference at all between the teenage Ratzinger cravenly joining the HJ to make his own life easier, and the current "Benedict" cravenly working to keep secret the crimes of priests. His moral arc was set in his youth, and nothing at all indicates that it has changed.

This is quite offensive.

I'm afraid I can't help you if you are offended by a purely objective description of the ritual of transubstantiation.

The "host" is a cracker.

"Cracker" - A thin, crisp wafer often eaten with cheese or other savory toppings.

No cheese or savory toppings, but it is a thin crisp wafer.

The priest says magic words over the cracker to (supposedly) turn it into something different.

"Magic" - The power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.

Please explain where my description was inaccurate. The only possible rational objection I can see was my use of the term "mumble". I used that for alliteration, and because in the four times I've personally witnessed a Mass being conducted where transubstantiation was invoked the Priest did, in fact, mumble his magic words rather than speaking in a clear voice.

And, I don't think there's anything magic in the words and I do think the cracker stays exactly the same regardless of who says the words. I'm wrong for saying so? I am not permitted to disagree without giving offense? How fragile your beliefs must be if they cannot withstand even the mildest of criticism. If they're so fragile are they really worth having? Truth, in my experience, survives genuinely harsh criticism and would certainly not tremble at the extremely mild criticism I just offered.

shakespeherian wrote NOW ABOUT THAT WEB PORTAL, WHAT

Kind of boring and not newsworthy IMO. A big bureaucracy decides to make a unified site for all of their official utterances. Happens all the time.

Not to be unpleasant to aqsakal, but I don't see it as being all that FPP worthy.
posted by sotonohito at 7:07 AM on June 29, 2011


mikelieman: " Perhaps if Ratzinger had been arrested while actively resisting the Nazis, tried for treason, found guilty, condemned to death and beheaded then the comparison would be warranted, but by comparing Ratzinger, the lowest form of toad who "Went along to get along -- with Nazis" to Hans and Sophie Scholl, you insult their memory and sacrifice."

sotonohito: "And yet there were teenagers at the time who refused to join the HJ. Teenagers with greater moral clarity than a young Joseph Ratzinger had. Teenagers who were willing to stand up for what was right, even if that meant inconvenience or even death. Ratzinger, when faced with the choice of inconvenience or joining the HJ had only one question: "where do I sign up?"

Not exactly, no.

Ratzinger was a victim. As were the Scholls. And it's very easy for us to sit back in our places of unthreatened privilege and criticize because we weren't there and were not faced with those decisions. Easy to declare that Ratzinger should have done more, stood up and died on principle. So he didn't. Neither did many others.

I lost family in the Holocaust and am uncomfortable with your lines of reasoning. It feels like you're both blaming the victim here. There is a pervasive idea amongst some people that the Holocaust would never have happened if the Jews had just fought back against the Germans. If they had focused their efforts on peaceful or armed resistance, the atrocities would never have happened. It's easy to blame the victims. Ratzinger's father spoke out against the Nazis and was forced to move his family repeatedly as a result. If Ratzinger had not joined the Hitler Youth, he most likely would have been condemning not only himself but his family to death. You're demanding to know why he wouldn't make a sacrifice that very few people in this world would probably be capable of. That seems unfair to me.

Don't get me wrong: I'm fine with focusing on his actions after the war. His protection of priests who had committed the unforgiveable sin of molesting children who trusted them is vile and disgusting.

But blaming people who didn't actively dissent and resist for the atrocities committed by the Nazis seems inappropriate.
posted by zarq at 7:33 AM on June 29, 2011


sotonihito: The priest says magic words over the cracker to (supposedly) turn it into something different.

Can you stop running down my religion in this thread about a web site, please?
posted by wenestvedt at 7:57 AM on June 29, 2011


The web site is now live.
posted by Jahaza at 8:07 AM on June 29, 2011


wenestvedt Can you please explain how that description is running down your religion? I'm not using offensive terminology. I'm doing my absolute level best to objectively describe transubstantiation, and yet somehow I'm failing.

Please take pity on my stupidity and explain what, exactly, is wrong with that description.

zarq My position has never been that I universally expect people to stand up against active evil. There are plenty, the overwhelming majority I'm sure, of people who joined the HJ because it was the easy choice but never did anything actively wrong even if they didn't follow the example of the Scholls and give their lives for good.

And if they went on to then be plumbers, or dentists, or farmers, or what have you I'm not going to fret about it. Ordinary people do ordinary things and going with the flow (even if the flow is pretty awful) is perfectly ordinary.

I tend to take the position that, as a general rule, humans aren't particularly good or evil but rather that they just try to get along and go with the flow.

But for people in positions of great power and moral authority I think we should expect more, better.

There are genuine heroes, genuine saints, genuine people of great moral authority and wisdom. Shouldn't we strive to put those people into the positions of moral authority rather than putting in a person who just tries to go with the flow?

When Ratzinger decided he wanted to climb the ladder of power and become even a Bishop, much less a Cardinal and then Pope, I think it was entirely appropriate and right to look at his past and his moral self. Those who seek moral authority should be moral exemplars.

If Joseph Ratzinger wanted to be Joe Ratzinger the dentist I'd say his semi-apathetic involvement in the HJ was utterly irrelevant and I'd agree it would be incorrect to bring it up.

When he decided to become "Benedict" [1] and Pope then his involvement in the HJ became very relevant and I see no problem with examining it. We must ask ourselves, has his moral position, his tendency to just try and get along, his tendency to take the easy path rather than the right path changed since then, or does his involvement with the HJ reflect his lifelong decisions. All evidence indicates the latter.

For me it's all a matter of what they sought to do, what positions of authority they sought to hold. Joe the dentist, who cares. "Benedict" the Pope, everyone should care. And if that makes some people sneer at me as a would be Donatist, so be it.

[1] What awesome hubris is embodied in that name. He imagines himself to be a benediction to the planet, wow.
posted by sotonohito at 8:27 AM on June 29, 2011


Kind of boring and not newsworthy IMO. A big bureaucracy decides to make a unified site for all of their official utterances. Happens all the time.

Not to be unpleasant to aqsakal, but I don't see it as being all that FPP worthy.


This opinion is not validation for filling a thread with unrelated rantings about the Pope.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:50 AM on June 29, 2011


I didn't start that I'm afraid. My first comment in the threat had nothing to do with the Pope and was limited to sneering at the portal as being old fashioned and in line with the standard religious approach of trying to appropriate popular things long after they stopped being popular.

By the time the Catholic apologists started up, the thread as a discussion of the portal was pretty much done. And that's not surprising because what, really, is there to say about the portal? A few jokes perhaps, but beyond that it's a pretty inconsequential non-issue.

You can't derail a discussion that doesn't exist.
posted by sotonohito at 10:04 AM on June 29, 2011


You didn't start it, but could you please stop it?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:29 AM on June 29, 2011


Not to be unpleasant to aqsakal, but I don't see it as being all that FPP worthy.

Then skip it. "So let's talk about the Pope being a Nazi" is not really an okay response to not being interested in a website, and you need to cut this out now.
posted by cortex at 10:37 AM on June 29, 2011


Ok.
posted by sotonohito at 10:54 AM on June 29, 2011


sotonohito: "But for people in positions of great power and moral authority I think we should expect more, better.

OK, I tend to agree. But still, I don't think his history in the Hitler Youth is a good metric for whether he is now a good person. And I do feel like the argument that Hitler Youth members should have essentially committed suicide on principle is unrealistic and unfair.

I'd like to drop the Nazi part of this discussion... based on cortex request, if you don't mind. But...

There are genuine heroes, genuine saints, genuine people of great moral authority and wisdom. Shouldn't we strive to put those people into the positions of moral authority rather than putting in a person who just tries to go with the flow?

Let's ask this question from a slightly different perspective, shall we?

Why was Ratzinger chosen to be Pope? He's not an ideal candidate. Most seem to be chosen for their uncontroversial nature, charisma and strength of personality. Ratzinger has baggage. Many Catholics voiced concerns that he would be a reactionary influence on the Church.

I suspect Ratzinger was "eligo" because throughout his life, he's stuck to his guns. He truly seems to believe that traditional Catholic doctrine and rituals are of utmost importance, and in many ways has opposed progressive pressures to modernize the Church. Many of his acts prior to and after his election to the papacy reflect an inherent conservativism to his Catholicism. This is speculation only, but that could be a reaction to this childhood, lived under the Third Reich.

The people who appointed Ratzinger apparently believe that the Church doesn't need a saint as leader. But they do seem to believe that the Church needs someone who will, to paraphrase William F. Buckley, "stand athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so." Hence his support of traditions some feel are outdated. Support of a coverup that maintained the Church's outward image, even when something was obviously rotten within. He's a traditionalist, leading a religion that is already resistant to change.

This is the image of a moral leader that the Church would like to project to the world: someone who respects and defends traditional Catholic doctrine against the ephemeral whims of modernity.

To the current incarnation of the Church, it seems that's all that matters. And to them, that's what makes him a moral exemplar.

We can and should measure him objectively, I agree.
posted by zarq at 11:16 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wearing a safety belt is also required by law.

That doesn't make it the right thing to do.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:27 PM on June 28


No indeed. What makes it the right thing to do is that it makes a lot of sense and demonstrably reduces the risk of death and injury in car crashes. I think we'd have to cast around a little further than that to find reasons that make joining the Hitler Youth the right thing to do, wouldn't we?
posted by Decani at 12:38 PM on June 29, 2011


Well, I never felt anyone was being unkind to me (although strictly according to the rules any criticism of the value or lack of value of an FPP belongs on MetaTalk).

Disclaimer: I'm not a Roman Catholic. In fact, I'm not even a Christian. But I happen to live and work very close to the centre of the RC world and occasionally come across something which I think might well interest some of the over 1 bn Roman Catholic believers in the world (according to Wikipedia - admittedly not the most reliable of sources), or the over 74 m believers in the US, which is the prime component of the MeFi user-base. So I reported it, adhering to the guidelines on what makes a useful FPP. And I admit that I deemed it a borderline case, but on balance worth bringing to the attention of those concerned.

But I've certainly learned that there are issues on which it's probably the better part of valour to shut the fuck up. The mods have allowed a mega troll war to derail what was originally a fairly innocuous and non-partisan post. Maybe I ought to have thunk twice before posting.

Thanks and good night.
posted by aqsakal at 12:55 PM on June 29, 2011


And apologies - my rant should have been on MetaTalk, not here.
posted by aqsakal at 1:10 PM on June 29, 2011


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