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Catholic? Had an abortion? Here's your chance to be forgiven.
August 18, 2011 8:44 PM   Subscribe

Church forgives abortion during Pope's visit to Spain Special powers have been given to all priests in Madrid to absolve women who confess to abortion in the sacrament of penance during Pope Benedict's four-day visit to the church's World Youth Day event.

Here's a history of the Catholic Church stance on abortion. Here's a thumbnail history of celibacy in the Church.
posted by Vibrissae (267 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks, popey! Good old popey-pants!
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:49 PM on August 18, 2011 [22 favorites]


I'm not really sure what that history of celibacy in the Church has to do with anything else in this post.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:49 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, doesn't normal confession and penance already cover this? Where's the list?
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:50 PM on August 18, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm not really sure what that history of celibacy in the Church has to do with anything else in this post.

Because how can you have an abortion if you're celibate? You can't, that's how!
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:51 PM on August 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


This really frustrates me. 'Your soul is only safe, in our eyes, if you confess now. Limited time only - all souls must be saved!'

Not a good PR move for the normally PR saavy church.*

*church may not actually be saavy and this may be meant in jest. All opinions contained herein are not the opinions of Metafilter, Inc.
posted by glaucon at 8:51 PM on August 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Reminds me of library late fee amnesty day, of which I have on occasion taken advantage...
posted by drowsy at 8:51 PM on August 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was taught all sins were forgivable after confession and penance. Why is this different?
posted by longsleeves at 8:52 PM on August 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


And why just Madrid? How is a woman who has just aborted herself senseless in, say, Dakota, meant to have the wherewithal to get to Madrid?
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:53 PM on August 18, 2011 [13 favorites]


Because how can you have an abortion if you're celibate? You can't, that's how!

The Virgin Mary was celibate, according to the mythology, and there were ways to abort back then.
posted by longsleeves at 8:55 PM on August 18, 2011


Don't miss this special, one-time offer from the Catholic Church: God's forgiveness! Act now, while supplies last
posted by Hoopo at 8:55 PM on August 18, 2011 [20 favorites]


longsleeves: "I was taught all sins were forgivable after confession and penance. Why is this different?"

It's different because they think they still have a hold on someones guilt and shame over abortion, and that they can still dictate to that person based on making them feel worthless unless they come on their knees, begging for release...
posted by dancestoblue at 8:56 PM on August 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


The Virgin Mary was celibate, according to the mythology, and there were ways to abort back then.

But could Mary have aborted Jesus, had she wanted to?
posted by b1tr0t at 8:58 PM on August 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Whoa! I didn't even know that abortion was an unforgivable sin in Catholic church. And if that is to change, why is the offer limited by geography and time? Catholic Church, now in the same category of organizations as your local supermarket (but with far more sleaze!).
posted by vidur at 8:59 PM on August 18, 2011


I like how everyone here is trying apply logic to this. Good ole Metafilter!
posted by helmutdog at 9:02 PM on August 18, 2011 [45 favorites]


Wait, doesn't normal confession and penance already cover this? Where's the list?

Canon 1398 provides that, "a person who procures a successful abortion incurs an automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication." This means that at the very moment that the abortion is successfully accomplished, the woman and all formal conspirators are excommunicated.

By the time you go to confession it's already too late, you're automatically excommunicated and presumably damned. (Presumably you could shoot a newborn in the head, though, and not be automatically excommunicated and still eligible for sacramental absolution. Yes? No?)

According to the link you have an out if you were under 16 or didn't know that there was a law forbidding abortion, and a bunch of other escape clauses. Good thing this kind of "law" isn't real law.
posted by chuq at 9:02 PM on August 18, 2011 [12 favorites]


"I was taught all sins were forgivable after confession and penance. Why is this different?"

I think the difference is that abortion makes you subject to automatic excommunication, so you need to go through a different process to be un-excommunicated before you can go to confession. It's not unforgivable, it's just considered more serious and requires a different system. Amusingly, one of the list of things that gets you automatically excommunicated is (as a priest) using confession as a pretext to get the confessor to commit adultery. I guess that just happened one too many times.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:03 PM on August 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


But could Mary have aborted Jesus, had she wanted to?

Yeah, but then what? Doubting Thomas comes along and starts...poking around...just before she rolls a big stone in front of her...entrance? What about three days later when Jesus is all better again? Dude, you are too fucked up for words.
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:05 PM on August 18, 2011 [10 favorites]


b1tr0t: " The Virgin Mary was celibate, according to the mythology, and there were ways to abort back then.

But could Mary have aborted Jesus, had she wanted to?
"

But if she *had* aborted Him, wouldn't He have miracled His Ass right on back in there?
posted by dancestoblue at 9:06 PM on August 18, 2011 [9 favorites]


"I was taught all sins were forgivable after confession and penance. Why is this different?"

All sins are forgivable - and I don't fully understand the machinations here, so forgive me - but participation in the procurement of an abortion causes automatic excommunication, which means that one cannot participate in any of the sacraments (including that of penance). Many priests are given the power to "lift" that excommunication (including those at world youth day) without further involvement. A Catholic would not have to necessarily go to Madrid to be brought back into communion with the Church. (I am not saying that I believe in or think sensible any of that, I'm just reporting the situation as I understand it).
posted by moxiedoll at 9:07 PM on August 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


By the time you go to confession it's already too late, you're automatically excommunicated and presumably damned. (Presumably you could shoot a newborn in the head, though, and not be automatically excommunicated and still eligible for sacramental absolution. Yes? No?)

Don't bring logic into this!
posted by adamdschneider at 9:07 PM on August 18, 2011


But could Mary have aborted Jesus, had she wanted to?

Why not? I'm sure she got pregnant the conventional way like all ex-virgins back then. Then she made up a story...
posted by longsleeves at 9:08 PM on August 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm waiting for the price of indulgences to come down. Then I'll buy them wholesale from the Vatican.

Then during NYE I'm going to sell it on ebay. Maybe I should save some for Mardi Gras.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:08 PM on August 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


longsleeves: "But could Mary have aborted Jesus, had she wanted to?

Why not? I'm sure she got pregnant the conventional way like all ex-virgins back then. Then she made up a story...
"

Absolutely, it was probably the milk man, if they had milk men back then, and she did this super sales job on Joseph, the most famous cuckold in history. "No, really, Joseph -- It was God!"
posted by dancestoblue at 9:10 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


This story is being horribly misreported and twisted. The faculties to absolve the sins of the excommunicated and return them to full communion with the church are normally reserved to the Pope, bishops and selected priests who have been granted those faculties by their bishop. These opportunity to be reconciled with the church exist year-round and world-wide.

All that is happening this week in Madrid, is the Archbishop of Madrid has exercised his authority as bishop of the local church in Madrid to temporarily grant these faculties to all clergy attending World Youth Day, whether they belong to his diocese or to others, to lift the excommunications and absolve the sins of those who have committed the sin of abortion.

BTW, when someone is excommunicated, they aren't kicked out of the church; instead they are restricted from receiving the sacraments (except for confession). Excommunicated Catholics are still Catholics.
posted by Ranucci at 9:11 PM on August 18, 2011 [22 favorites]


Because how can you have an abortion if you're celibate?

IVF.
posted by pompomtom at 9:13 PM on August 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ranucci: "Excommunicated Catholics are still Catholics."

So then what do you have to do to get totally free from it, can you somehow renounce your Catholicism or ?? And if you do renounce it, does "The Church" still hold that you're a Catholic, just one that's on the edges; is Catholicism for life, like being a Cubs fan or some such?
posted by dancestoblue at 9:16 PM on August 18, 2011


I'm this close to thinking that Catholicism is a bunch of contrived nonsense. This close.
posted by anothermug at 9:17 PM on August 18, 2011 [16 favorites]


But what happens if the priest doesn't make his saving throw? Can he still absolve the woman with a free action or does he need to wait til his next turn?
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:20 PM on August 18, 2011 [25 favorites]


I love going to confession,
half because the priest can't tell anyone what I say
and half because he has to look up some of the words.
(crying over his dictionary.)

posted by filthy light thief at 9:21 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


SPECIAL POWERS
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:22 PM on August 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Doesn't Canon 1279 require that the presiding bishop begin the proclamation of the delegation of the absolving prerogative with "Simon Says"?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:25 PM on August 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Where's Father Guido Sarducci to help you understand these Special Pope Deals (tm.) when you need him most?
posted by Skygazer at 9:33 PM on August 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


This seems like a fairly roundabout way to collect statistics. Aren't there firms for this?
posted by Chipmazing at 9:33 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


All that is happening this week in Madrid, is the Archbishop of Madrid has exercised his authority as bishop of the local church in Madrid to temporarily grant these faculties to all clergy attending World Youth Day, whether they belong to his diocese or to others, to lift the excommunications and absolve the sins of those who have committed the sin of abortion.

What a Mensch.
posted by longsleeves at 9:37 PM on August 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


b1tr0t: "The Virgin Mary was celibate, according to the mythology, and there were ways to abort back then."

Relevant.
posted by smcameron at 9:45 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Virgin Mary was celibate, according to the mythology mistranslation, and there were ways to abort back then.

Including those advocated by the temple! 'Water of Bitterness' is commonly understood to be an abortificant, and if the woman miscarries, than it was proof that she had lain with another man.
posted by FatherDagon at 9:46 PM on August 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Reminds me of library late fee amnesty day of which I have on occasion taken advantage...

Right, and if you know that eventually your library is going to offer such a deal, then, once you're late, there's no incentive to return a book until the amnesty period.

Analogously, if the Church is going to be offering Abortion Amnesty Day, then, fuck it, get an abortion if you want one and know that you can "repent" whenever the Pope visits somewhere. It may cost you airfare.
posted by etc. at 9:54 PM on August 18, 2011


Wow. As a Jew, I say that there is a lot of really upsetting anti-Catholic mockery in this thread. It seems like a lot of significantly less alarming stuff gets deleted on other threads, but...

I am asking this sincerely to learn, and maybe the OP or others can educate me. Other commenters remarked:

longsleeves: "I was taught all sins were forgivable after confession and penance. Why is this different?"

moxiedoll: "All sins are forgivable - and I don't fully understand the machinations here, so forgive me - but participation in the procurement of an abortion causes automatic excommunication, which means that one cannot participate in any of the sacraments (including that of penance). Many priests are given the power to 'lift' that excommunication (including those at world youth day) without further involvement."

So I'm asking--why is this mortal(?) sin different from all other mortal sins? Abortion and murder may not have exactly the same status in Church law--I'm leaving out the question of where they stand in God's eyes--but surely they're pretty close. Regarding murder, what does absolution, excommunication, etc. involve?
posted by skbw at 9:58 PM on August 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


Analogously, if the Church is going to be offering Abortion Amnesty Day, then, fuck it, get an abortion if you want one and know that you can "repent" whenever the Pope visits somewhere. It may cost you airfare.

Airfare? Fuck that, I'll just go to hell then.
posted by emjaybee at 9:58 PM on August 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


. . .can you somehow renounce your Catholicism or ?? And if you do renounce it, does "The Church" still hold that you're a Catholic, just one that's on the edges; is Catholicism for life, like being a Cubs fan or some such?

If you renounce your Catholicism, you have commited Apostaty a fide, which means you just excommuicated yourself and only the Pope (or a bishop acting in his authority) can lift that excommunication. Real world consequences are relativiely trivial these days, and wouldn't have any affect on you if you were sincere in your apostasy anyway (can't receive communion, can't get married by a priest, can't receive last rites or be buried in consecrated ground). The usual approach taken by The Church when someone becomes an apostate is "Whatevs" but if you go out of your way to make your apostasy a notrious issue (like going on TV and railing against the Church, etc), there may be some consequences for your family members who are still in The Church as result of your infamy-- your spouse may be told that your marriage is no longer valid and there must be a physical seperation from you in order to stay in good standing within The Church is probably the most likely one that would be invoked, but I can't recall that happening in my lifetime.

TL;DR: You can quit, but they're not going to give a shit unless you make it an issue.
posted by KingEdRa at 9:59 PM on August 18, 2011 [3 favorites]



According to the link you have an out if you were under 16 or didn't know that there was a law forbidding abortion, and a bunch of other escape clauses. Good thing this kind of "law" isn't real law.


Only Sharia law isn't real law, because its religious and offensive. Catholic laws are real laws, because if you don't follow them, you go to hell.

What I'm saying is, my son's school still serves a vegetarian meal, but only on Fridays during Lent.

Because SHARIA LAW is bad. Or something. I can't get them to stop eating noodles for Ramendan.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:05 PM on August 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm waiting for the price of indulgences to come down. Then I'll buy them wholesale from the Vatican.

Perhaps you didn't hear that the market closed about 500 years ago.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:19 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow. As a Jew, I say that there is a lot of really upsetting anti-Catholic mockery in this thread.

Don't sweat it. Jews can join in the mockery, too. They've stopped killing you guys for refusing to convert.

Officially, at least.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:25 PM on August 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


All that is happening this week in Madrid, is the Archbishop of Madrid has exercised his authority as bishop of the local church in Madrid to temporarily grant these faculties to all clergy attending World Youth Day...

Oh yeah baby it's like triple experience weekends on Call of Duty!

Or, more like special bonus hat drops in Team Fortress 2, except it's a limited edition stole.

"Dude where did you get that hella rare stole?"

"Oh I was there when the bishop of Madrid was handing them out, that one time."

"Dude that is so righteous. Wanna trade? Wanna trade? Any items you wanna trade?"

"Well, I've got this special gay-conversion zucchetto."

"Fuck off I got like nine of those."

"LOL why u mad tho?"

"Next mass I am gonna fuck you up bad with my flaming monstrance."
posted by tumid dahlia at 10:27 PM on August 18, 2011 [11 favorites]


Wow. As a Jew, I say that there is a lot of really upsetting anti-Catholic mockery in this thread.

Which makes this just like every other thread about Catholicism that I can recall.

And so it goes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:30 PM on August 18, 2011 [12 favorites]


"Wow. As a Jew, I say that there is a lot of really upsetting anti-Catholic mockery in this thread."

Meh. It's magical thinking from a crazy nomic institution that's out of step with modern values and mores. It's kinda exactly the sort of self-important puffery that should be mocked — that Madrid priests can tell kids zim-zim-zalabim you're back in the Church because the abortion doesn't count anymore is a goofy proposition and one that encourages an illiberal and harmful view of morality.

That it's being reported in a lookadem Catholics way doesn't help, but sometimes a game seems ridiculous to outsiders because the rules are incoherent and the costumes are funny.
posted by klangklangston at 10:33 PM on August 18, 2011 [30 favorites]


I'm an ex-Catholic so, like a guy who has his full license, I can drive however I want.
posted by tumid dahlia at 10:33 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you renounce your Catholicism, you have commited Apostaty a fide, which means you just excommuicated yourself

Ah, no. There are a number of other conditions that must be met which you have not specified.

and only the Pope (or a bishop acting in his authority) can lift that excommunication.

No. Apostasy (Canon 1364 Section 1) is NOT a reserved excommunication.

The usual approach taken by The Church when someone becomes an apostate is "Whatevs" but if you go out of your way to make your apostasy a notrious issue (like going on TV and railing against the Church, etc), there may be some consequences for your family members who are still in The Church as result of your infamy-- your spouse may be told that your marriage is no longer valid

Yeah, that is not the case now and wasn't ever the case. The position of the Catholic Church is that consummated marriages between two baptized persons are indissoluble and no later action on their part changes this... not apostasy, not nothing.

and there must be a physical seperation from you in order to stay in good standing within The Church is probably the most likely one that would be invoked, but I can't recall that happening in my lifetime.

Yeah, 'cause it's not true. Even when excommunication vitandi (in short "shunning" was still a possible penalty for certain rare cases--and since the 1983 revision of the Code of Canon Law, it's not possible at all--there were exceptions to the limitations, one of which was if you were married to the excommunicated person (see here under the heading "Civilia jura", that's what they mean by "conjugal law".)

TLDR: Please don't present comments like this as fact, you're wrong on just about every point.
posted by Jahaza at 10:48 PM on August 18, 2011 [17 favorites]


"Which makes this just like every other thread about Catholicism that I can recall. "

I would hope that, if trolling for lulz at the expense of the religious views of others is something that Metafilter is for, we could at least be factually accurate about it.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:49 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that is not the case now and wasn't ever the case. The position of the Catholic Church is that consummated marriages between two baptized persons are indissoluble and no later action on their part changes this... not apostasy, not nothing.

See I don't get that "indissoluble" bit cuz I remember my Dad coming to my Mom's house when I was just a young lad asking her about having their failed marriage declared annulled long after their divorce that they had already gone through so he could get re-married to a Catholic woman. Who had also gotten an annulment under similar circumstances. So basically the Catholic Church retroactively made me born out of wedlock as far as I can tell, and undid 2 marriages like "poof". I mean, that's not "indissoluble" to anyone watching from outside.
posted by Hoopo at 11:02 PM on August 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


Matthew 7:5
posted by Decani at 11:02 PM on August 18, 2011


How the fuck does anyone get a plank stuck in their eye?

That never made any sense to me.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:04 PM on August 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


why is the offer limited by geography and time?

They're running this special offer through Groupon.
posted by rh at 11:06 PM on August 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


See I don't get that "indissoluble" bit cuz I remember my Dad coming to my Mom's house when I was just a young lad asking her about having their failed marriage declared annulled long after their divorce that they had already gone through so he could get re-married to a Catholic woman. Who had also gotten an annulment under similar circumstances. So basically the Catholic Church retroactively made me born out of wedlock as far as I can tell, and undid 2 marriages like "poof". I mean, that's not "indissoluble" to anyone watching from outside.

Yes, the current state of annulment-granting (not new, but quite widespread) is considered a bit of a scandal among conscientious Catholics. You're completely right to point out the problem. Of course, they would resolve the inconsistency differently that you would like, but they do see the inconsistency.
posted by michaelh at 11:15 PM on August 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


So I'm asking--why is this mortal(?) sin different from all other mortal sins? Abortion and murder may not have exactly the same status in Church law--I'm leaving out the question of where they stand in God's eyes--but surely they're pretty close.

Because if you make abortion, rather than, say, murder, grounds for excommunication, it has the convenient effect of controlling women's sexuality. Women having sex whenever they want to with whomever they choose? Those sluts should have to live with the consequences of their actions. And those consequences should be dire. Eternal, even. It also reinforces the idea that the only real options for women in the Catholic Church are motherhood or celibacy, unless they're married and childless because of some biological impediment.

An education in a Catholic girls' school taught me a lot.
posted by corey flood at 11:24 PM on August 18, 2011 [30 favorites]


Thanks for that, michaelh, it's the first straight answer I've gotten on that. Inconsistencies like that--and these temporary absolution of abortion powers--can give the appearance that completely different standards of conduct apply to non-Catholics, which is especially problematic when the Catholic Church (or a Catholic lobby if not the Church itself) tries to exert political influence.
posted by Hoopo at 11:29 PM on August 18, 2011


Hoopo, children born to a putative marriage aren't rendered illegitimate or born-out-of-wedlock by an annulment (see Canon 1137 of the 1983 Code). Legitimacy is an issue of civil law, not canon law. Also, annulment doesn't undo marriages "like 'poof'". An annulment is a declaration that an attempted marriage never became a sacramental marriage.
posted by Ranucci at 11:30 PM on August 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


See I don't get that "indissoluble" bit cuz I remember my Dad coming to my Mom's house when I was just a young lad asking her about having their failed marriage declared annulled long after their divorce that they had already gone through so he could get re-married to a Catholic woman. Who had also gotten an annulment under similar circumstances. So basically the Catholic Church retroactively made me born out of wedlock as far as I can tell, and undid 2 marriages like "poof". I mean, that's not "indissoluble" to anyone watching from outside.

From the perspective of the Catholic Church, the marriages were not "undone" they were declared to have never been done in the first place.

As Ranucci says, the children born to a putative (supposed) marriage are considered "legitimate" under Canon Law. However, I'd add the qualification to his statement that legitimacy is an issue of civil law and not canon law that this may currently be the case, but it has not always been so in the past. Illegitimacy or "defect of birth" was an impediment to receiving Holy Orders (this is no longer the case). The Jesuits also, I believe, had a rule prohibiting those who were "illegitimate" from joining without special permission.
posted by Jahaza at 11:36 PM on August 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


An education in a Catholic girls' school taught me a lot.

Sadly not how to disagree with someone's religion politely though.
posted by Jahaza at 11:37 PM on August 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think this is worth posting again. I don't know the source of it. I guess the idea is to mail it to whatever church you were raised in or maybe send it to your Congressperson. Or send it to relatives you want to tweak.

I, (Your name), having been subjected to the Rite of Christian Baptism in infancy (before reaching an age of consent), hereby publicly revoke any implications of that Rite and renounce the Church that carried it out. In the name of human reason, I reject all its Creeds and all other such superstition in particular, the perfidious belief that any baby needs to be cleansed by Baptism of alleged ORIGINAL SIN, and the evil power of supposed demons. I wish to be excluded henceforth from enhanced claims of church membership numbers based on past baptismal statistics used, for example, for the purpose of securing legislative privilege.

Signed___________________

Date_____________________
posted by longsleeves at 11:45 PM on August 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


Ranucci and Jahaza, those are very "inside" views of the thing and don't make a great deal of sense to a non-Catholic. The marriages existed, and for me continue to have existed, yet now they've been declared to have "never been done in the first place" when I go to this ceremony at the Church where my Dad's getting married a second time. Anyways, I'm derailing.
posted by Hoopo at 11:46 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jahaza: "An education in a Catholic girls' school taught me a lot.

Sadly not how to disagree with someone's religion politely though.
"

Judge not, lest ye be judged, Jahaza.

Corey Flood may have gotten creamed in that school and now sounding an alarm for all to hear and I'm glad she's doing it.

Or do you think she should somehow find a way to be politely disagreeable with someone who is attempting to control her life, her choices (and others lives, and others choices, too), should she attempt to find a way to be polite to these people when they are absolutely not polite to her, not her nor anyone else who won't play their little horses-ass games and allow themselves to be scared witless by control freaks wearing goofy hats.

Like the smoker who quits and then is quite determined to keep peoples noxious poisons away from the restaurants they eat in or the cars they ride in, I as an ex-religious person want to keep the stench of the various foolishnesses of various religions far, far from me. And when someone blows their smoke in my face -- as it were -- I'm damn sure going to tell them to knock it off, and if I see them blowing smoke in someone elses face, I will tell the other person that they need not put up with that jive.
posted by dancestoblue at 11:51 PM on August 18, 2011 [25 favorites]


Just to expand on Jahaza's post -- illegitimacy was an impediment to receiving Holy Orders under the old Codes of Canon Law, but provisions for overcoming that impediment existed, such as the subsequent marriage of the parents or by religious profession (i.e. joining a religious order before attempting to receive Orders.) These provisions are noted in the article from the 1907 Catholic Encyclopedia Jahaza linked to and in this commentary on Canon 984 of the 1917 Code.
posted by Ranucci at 11:51 PM on August 18, 2011


I would hope that, if trolling for lulz at the expense of the religious views of others is something that Metafilter is for...

POSIWID.
posted by brennen at 12:11 AM on August 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


The main takeaway from all this babbling, is that the eternal verities the RCC sees itself in charge of, are ever changing. So don't get overly attached to whatever rigmarole is the orthodoxy of the moment, as it's liable to change with the next random edict that rolls down from the Vatican.

I'm waiting to see if the RCC discovers the humanity of gay people first, or that women have the right to control their own bodies. It is of course entirely possible that the outcome of this exciting race will not be known in my lifetime.
posted by VikingSword at 12:12 AM on August 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


But if she *had* aborted Him, wouldn't He have miracled His Ass right on back in there?

And, presumably, the rest of Him.
posted by NoraReed at 12:13 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


An education in a Catholic girls' school taught me a lot.

Sadly not how to disagree with someone's religion politely though.


No, no, they certainly taught me that. They were very big on teaching us to not offend anyone who was Catholic and to pityingly condescend to other religions (politely!). It's just that politely disagreeing, like many of the other things Catholic school taught me, is no longer something that I make use of unquestioningly in every situation.
posted by corey flood at 12:14 AM on August 19, 2011 [28 favorites]


Canon 1398 provides that, "a person who procures a successful abortion incurs an automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication." This means that at the very moment that the abortion is successfully accomplished, the woman and all formal conspirators are excommunicated.

That's why Sister Margaret McBride was automatically excommunicated for recommending an abortion to save a woman's life in Phoenix last year.
posted by homunculus at 12:27 AM on August 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Confess this!
posted by IvoShandor at 12:27 AM on August 19, 2011


You have to have a reason to anull the marriage, such as the woman was not a real virgin. or he has sex with men.
posted by longsleeves at 12:30 AM on August 19, 2011


Since when is loving someone, no matter what, a special power?
posted by I love you more when I eat paint chips at 12:34 AM on August 19, 2011


Since Care Bears started shooting rainbows from their bellies
posted by Hoopo at 12:40 AM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


While I'm no especial fan of Catholicism, in a post that refers specifically to the Catholic laws that govern Catholics within the auspices of the Catholic community, it's probably worth it to listen to what Catholics have to say and not to rely on one's vague hearsay about what Catholicism is.
posted by Errant at 12:58 AM on August 19, 2011 [12 favorites]


I'll forgive the Catholic Church if they publicly confess their sins and accept all the civil punishments that come with them.
posted by srboisvert at 2:01 AM on August 19, 2011 [20 favorites]


This is just another case of the extremely conservative archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Rouco Varela, trolling the nonbelievers (and the long-suffering left wing of the Spanish Catholic Church).

As others have point out, the FPP is erroneous. This is not about giving the confessors an exceptional right of absolution for abortions. No confessor can refuse absolution for any sin if the sinner is genuinely contrite and makes his (or her) penance. It's about revoking excommunication, which is something different. Also, it isn't particularly exceptional. However, because it could get the words "abortion" and "Pope" in the same sentence, it was a sure way to generate headlines, and there's nothing that Rouco likes so much as to get progressives all indignant. Especially in the middle of an electoral campaign in which the current government (which he absolutely loathes), is almost certain to get creamed.

This is a man whose doctoral thesis was about "church-state relations in XVI century Spain". I suspect he approved...
posted by Skeptic at 2:32 AM on August 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


And here I am, suffering in the comfy chair.
posted by ShutterBun at 2:39 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


*Offer not available where taxed or prohibited. Other restrictions may apply.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:57 AM on August 19, 2011


So you are pardoned of "baby killing" when the old ass is around!? What next, you're are pardoned of people murdering if you offer a small large amount of money......OH I SEE NOW.
posted by elpapacito at 4:17 AM on August 19, 2011


So you are pardoned of "baby killing" when the old ass is around!?

No, you are pardoned of that or any other action regarded as sin by the Catholic Church if you confess and are genuinely contrite and penant. This is about being allowed to take communion, is not really restricted to the Pope being around, and in this case is really a (successful) stunt by a very conservative cardinal to rile his enemies. Please read the thread.
posted by Skeptic at 4:22 AM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think all abortion procedures should use holy water. That way we could be extra safe by terminating both the unborn and the undead.
posted by Human Flesh at 4:48 AM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Teenagers welcoming the pope at the World Youth Days.
posted by Skeptic at 5:04 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Of course if you just rape a child, not only are you forgiven, but the Church will protect you from the law and get you a new gig so you can do it again.

/moral bankruptcy
posted by spitbull at 5:12 AM on August 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Spanish Police punch a girl in the face at a protest against the pope.
posted by empath at 5:13 AM on August 19, 2011


I'm surprised that nobody here is upset to learn about the Church's poverty, which requires it to take a hand-out from the Spanish government. I thought they had literally several billion dollars of wealth? To me, that's the most important part of the article.
posted by Houstonian at 5:20 AM on August 19, 2011


Wow, so Spanish cops are also massive pricks. Good to know that wherever you go, there you are.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 5:38 AM on August 19, 2011


Because how can you have an abortion if you're celibate? You can't, that's how!

Nuh uh… don't forget about the Virgin Mary.
posted by readyfreddy at 5:54 AM on August 19, 2011


New International Version (©1984)
Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written

...and the pope rides in his private jet :)
posted by ReWayne at 6:04 AM on August 19, 2011


Special powers have been given to all priests in Madrid to absolve women who confess to abortion

Special powers have been given to me by my country's laws to say, fuck the Catholic church. It reached critical mass in terms of the damage it's done centuries ago and it can't dwindle away to an irrelevant laughingstock of an organization fast enough for me.
posted by orange swan at 6:05 AM on August 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Canon 1398 provides that, "a person who procures a successful abortion incurs an automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication." This means that at the very moment that the abortion is successfully accomplished, the woman and all formal conspirators are excommunicated.

St. Peter: "Well it was close. Very close. But may I refer you to Paragraph 6, Section 3, Subsection B, Item 4....."
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:09 AM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised that nobody here is upset to learn about the Church's poverty, which requires it to take a hand-out from the Spanish government. I thought they had literally several billion dollars of wealth?

U2 has a lot of money, but they still expect to get paid for concerts.
posted by empath at 6:10 AM on August 19, 2011


The pope should wonder if we forgive him and his religion for abusing children, covering it up, atrocities throughout history, abuse of power, corruption, etc.

I don't.
posted by stormpooper at 6:36 AM on August 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


My Very-Very-Catholic-Mother flat out lied to a Bishop in order to have me baptized right away. It fills me with glee that my baptism was done under false pretenses and it's the only thing that's stopped me from getting myself actively un-baptized. Take that, Catholic Church!

That's my flippancy for the day, I can't muster up any real humor in the face of the widespread political power the Catholic Church has in Europe, has and wields!, and makes the lives of non-Catholics (and some Catholics too, in my experience) pretty goddamn miserable. Reproductive rights are just the tip of the iceberg.
posted by lydhre at 6:36 AM on August 19, 2011


As a Jew, I say that there is a lot of really upsetting anti-Catholic mockery in this thread.

It doesn't bother me because I read it as more anti-Vatican. I know a lot of Catholics who don't think too highly of the pope. Some of the church's (as in, the institution) fiercest critics are Catholics and I think they would be bothered by the spirit of this thread.
posted by beau jackson at 7:10 AM on August 19, 2011


Wow. As a Jew, I say that there is a lot of really upsetting anti-Catholic mockery in this thread.

As a (former) Catholic with a bit of a hair trigger about anti-Catholicism, I don't think this thread is that bad. Making fun of Catholic beliefs isn't the same as mocking Catholics.
posted by empath at 7:12 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why do we mock the Catholic church when it repeatedly asserts dominion over women in even more ridiculous ways? Because it deserves it. That was an easy one! Any more complaints?
posted by Brocktoon at 7:18 AM on August 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you renounce your Catholicism, you have commited Apostaty a fide, which means you just excommuicated yourself
---
Ah, no. There are a number of other conditions that must be met which you have not specified.
---
and only the Pope (or a bishop acting in his authority) can lift that excommunication.
---
No. Apostasy (Canon 1364 Section 1) is NOT a reserved excommunication.


This is hilarious, like watching a Magic: The Gathering rules lawyer come in and get all huffy about the resolution order of interrupt cards or something. Ahhh, imaginary rules systems.. is there anything you CAN'T get pointlessly convoluted over?
posted by FatherDagon at 7:26 AM on August 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


Forgive us, Father Dragon.
posted by beau jackson at 7:28 AM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Miracle: The Popening? Way too expensive if you ask me.
posted by Cironian at 7:32 AM on August 19, 2011


But if she *had* aborted Him, wouldn't He have miracled His Ass right on back in there?

It could be like some twisted version of the movie Groundhog Day.
posted by mikepop at 7:32 AM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, if the Catholic church buys me a car, I'll forgive them for the sin of simony. Offer valid for a limited time!
posted by foursentences at 7:38 AM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, somebody's gotta have set up an abortion tent for World Youth Day, since everyone can head right on down to the church to have it forgiven, right? Or maybe a two-for where the priest is right there?
posted by klangklangston at 7:39 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


@Jahaza: "Sadly not how to disagree with someone's religion politely though."

Has the Pope yet issued a formal rebuke of Archbishop Chimimo for lying about condoms causing AIDS? Has Archbishop Chimimo been removed form his position for those lies?

Has the Pope ordered the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church [1] to turn over all known rapists in the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church to real authorities for real trials?

No?

Then I don't see any reason to be polite in my condemnation of the vile evil that is the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. They stop being evil, I'll stop being impolite in my condemnation of them.

[1] This awkward phraseology brought to you curtsey of Cortes, resurrexit, and Jahaza. If you'd like to see more normal communication, ask them to stop being willful idiots.
posted by sotonohito at 7:40 AM on August 19, 2011 [11 favorites]


As for World Youth Day, I think it's rather distasteful for the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church to have anything to do with it, given the ongoing coverup of members of that hierarchy raping the youth.
posted by sotonohito at 7:42 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Forgive us, Father Dragon.

I'll pass the request along if I run into FatherDragon.
posted by FatherDagon at 7:50 AM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


No, you are pardoned of that or any other action regarded as sin by the Catholic Church if you confess and are genuinely contrite and penant. This is about being allowed to take communion, is not really restricted to the Pope being around

I'm sorry, but this is still not correct. Excommunication prevents you from receiving any of the sacraments, including the Sacrament of Reconcilliation. If you have been excommunicated and go to a priest to confess, you won't be able to receive absolution unless he already has or receives faculties to absolve you from the Bishop. Now, there's already an exception to this (Can. 1357), that he can absolve you from undeclared automatic excommunication on the condition that, within a month, you go to the Bishop or a priest with a faculty and follow their instructions.

What extending the faculty to all the priests present in the diocese during World Youth Day is to allow them to remit this excommunication without this additional step.

and in this case is really a (successful) stunt by a very conservative cardinal to rile his enemies.

I've seen no reason to think this. What it does is greatly simplifies ecclesiastical administration in a time when many thousands of confessions are being heard.

Amusingly, one of the list of things that gets you automatically excommunicated is (as a priest) using confession as a pretext to get the confessor to commit adultery. I guess that just happened one too many times.

O.K., so first off, the word "confessor" means the priest. The person who confesses is called the "penitent."

Second, this crime solicitation is not actually a case of automatic excommunication:

"Can. 1387 A priest who in the act, on the occasion, or under the pretext of confession solicits a penitent to sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue is to be punished, according to the gravity of the delict, by suspension, prohibitions, and privations; in graver cases he is to be dismissed from the clerical state."

Part of why it's not an automatic excommunication is that the crime of solicitation is actually quite broad and goes far beyond a confessor who uses Confession to get a penitent to commit adultery.
posted by Jahaza at 7:54 AM on August 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Then I don't see any reason to be polite in my condemnation of the vile evil that is the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. They stop being evil, I'll stop being impolite in my condemnation of them.

The reasons to be polite include a) your respect for this community and its standards that ask for a "healthy, respectful discussion" b) that if you actually want to persuade people of your point of view it's better not to start out by insulting them or their religion.
posted by Jahaza at 7:57 AM on August 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


if you actually want to persuade people of your point of view it's better not to start out by insulting them or their religion.

I don't know; my history books don't suggest "polite" as a particularly good way to describe the way the Catholic Church went about persuading the peoples of Central America of its point of view, and yet look how well it worked out for it in the end.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:11 AM on August 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


and in this case is really a (successful) stunt by a very conservative cardinal to rile his enemies.

I've seen no reason to think this. What it does is greatly simplifies ecclesiastical administration in a time when many thousands of confessions are being heard.
To expand on this point a bit, this is not an unprecedented kind of thing, there's a kind of paralel, for instance in Pope Pius IX's encylical proclaiming a Jubilee for 1875, where he extends to confessors very broad faculties during the Holy Year for the absolution from undeclared excommunications.
posted by Jahaza at 8:17 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jahaza: "The reasons to be polite include a) your respect for this community and its standards that ask for a "healthy, respectful discussion" b) that if you actually want to persuade people of your point of view it's better not to start out by insulting them or their religion."


But what if we are being respectful to this community and its standards by being honest, what if honesty is needed for a healthy, respectful discussion?"

And what if the people who we'd actually want to persuade are berserk, and determined to dictate, based upon their own fears, how others live, with no respect for their wishes... Isn't it better to give up on attempting to persuade people who believe that the moon is made of cheese, and absolutely determined to continue to believe that the moon is made out of cheese, isn't laughter and scorn the only way to get them to blink and say to themselves "Hm, maybe I really am off-base here..." ?
posted by dancestoblue at 8:18 AM on August 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


As a Catholic with his papers and rituals all accounted for and certified, I speak with the utmost respect as one of his flock when I say, hey Pope guy....get bent!
posted by Skygazer at 8:23 AM on August 19, 2011


"Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution--these can lift at a colossal humbug--push it a little--weaken it a little, century by century, but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand."
Mark Twain
posted by dancestoblue at 8:25 AM on August 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just checked with www.newadvent.org's Catholic Encyclopedia.

Murder does not get an automatic excommunication, and in fact doesn't normally get an excommunication at all. Abortion does [1]. So, from the rules set down by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church it's better to wait until birth and then kill a real infant than it is to abort three weeks into a pregnancy. Something to keep in mind if you take the rules set down by Ratzinger and his gang of jokers seriously.

I'd especially like to see the worshipers of Bill Donohue address that, but I doubt they will.

@Jahaza I've got no hope of persuading you of anything. Bill Donahue said it, you believe it, that settles it. You've convinced yourself that any criticism of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church (even when I use the obnoxious terminology you've bullied me into using) is, by some bizarre mechanism, an attack on all lay Catholics everywhere, and that therefore criticizing the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is automatically bad and awful.

In fact, due to your continued willful stupidity on that issue, I'm done with the terminology you briefly bullied me into using. I will, in the future, be using the commonly accepted phrase "the Church" when referring to the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. You've continued to pretend that I'm some evil person attacking all Catholics everywhere despite my use of a long winded and awkward phrase, so I see no reason at all to continue using it. If you don't like that, it's on your own head for continuing to misconstrue my criticism even after I started using your obnoxious terminology.

Catholics who, unlike you, aren't brainwashed by Bill Donahue are critical of the Church, and recognize that it is doing active evil in the world (ie: protecting rapists, helping the spread of AIDS by lying about condoms, etc). Unlike you they aren't so blinded by their unthinking allegiance to a group of very bad people that they recognize that criticism is valid.

So I don't respect you. Respect is earned, and you don't earn any by being a super serviceable lackey to an organization that continues to take very bad actions indeed.

There are Catholics for whom I have respect, I personally know a woman who is Catholic and an OBGYN who prescribes birth control, performs hysterectomies, and doesn't care one bit that by doing so she's breaking the rules made up by the Church for the purpose of controlling female sexuality. She I respect. You? Not so much.

More generally, I see no reason to walk on rhetorical eggshells about issues of religion. We have an often rough and tumble style of discussion here on all manner of topics, yet it is only in religious matters that some weak willed types start demanding super cautious "respect".

I discuss religion in exactly the same manner i discuss everything else, and refuse on moral and philosophic grounds to give religious a more cautious stance than I give discussions of food, or music, or art, or any other topic. Your religion isn't special, it isn't any different from your taste in music, or whether you like cilantro or not. Get over yourself cousin.

[1] And, of course, so does the ordination of one of those pitiful penisless sub-human creatures commonly called "women". That, of course, is vastly worse than murder and merits an automatic excommunication. Nice set of priorities Ratzinger has.
posted by sotonohito at 8:25 AM on August 19, 2011 [10 favorites]


Believe me, I am no fan of orthodoxy or institutionalized religion in any of its forms, but our own (Jewish) patriarchy has a nice little bon mot that applies here:

"Who is wise? The one who learns from every person." (Italics mine.)

I figure there's no worldview so wack that there isn't something to be learned from it. Not the same thing as saying there's merit to every position!
posted by skbw at 8:29 AM on August 19, 2011


I'll pass the request along if I run into FatherDragon.

Much appreciated.
posted by beau jackson at 8:36 AM on August 19, 2011


There are Catholics for whom I have respect, I personally know a woman who is Catholic and an OBGYN who prescribes birth control, performs hysterectomies, and doesn't care one bit that by doing so she's breaking the rules made up by the Church for the purpose of controlling female sexuality. She I respect.

Ah, the only good Catholic is a bad Catholic.
posted by resurrexit at 8:36 AM on August 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


FatherDagon: Excommunicate is a sorcery, you dimwit. It's always the last thing to resolve off the stack.

As an atheist currently benefiting from a full-ride scholarship at a Jesuit university, I'm conflicted about the Catholic church. Their medieval and antifemale stance on sexual morality and reproductive rights cause real harm, to real people, every day. On the other hand they are also one of the largest and most widespread charity organizations in the world: there are very few places where Catholics aren't helping to provide some basic need to the poor and downtrodden, often regardless of their beliefs or lifestyle.

The problem with the organization is that, to a very large extent, its rules and history are overpowering it. The problem with believing your rules are handed down from God is that you're naturally predisposed not to change them.

It seems apparent to me that, like pretty much every established code of social morality, the Catholic dogma is getting more and more liberal over time. I really think that this sort of thing is the way an organization as old and complex as the Church shakes off those parts of its ideology that are no longer relevant: slowly, confusedly, and with lots and lots of gamesmanship by individuals inside the organization.
posted by nerdinexile at 8:38 AM on August 19, 2011 [12 favorites]


Bill Donahue said it, you believe it, that settles it.

Right, that's why I said on Metafilter that Donohue "frequently makes illegitimate points". I know that you read that comment, because you replied to it.

I think this is somewhat demonstrative of the extent to which you've allowed your personal attacks on me to outrun any reasonable offensiveness or aggravation to you of my comments. You're creating artificial disagreement between us to have additional rhetorical sticks to beat me with.
posted by Jahaza at 8:48 AM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


really think that this sort of thing is the way an organization as old and complex as the Church shakes off those parts of its ideology that are no longer relevant: slowly, confusedly, and with lots and lots of gamesmanship by individuals inside the organization.

It strikes me, too, that this change may stand a chance of speeding up just a tad if people not inside the church didn't crack jokes or say things like "oh, I see, Bill Donahue said it and you believe it so that settles it". More individuals on the inside may be swayed to encourage change that way.

I apologize if it looks like I'm calling you out, nerdinexile, as I'm not. You just spoke a truth -- that the Roman Catholic Church is indeed old and complex, and change is happening, albeit slowly, and it has to come from within.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:50 AM on August 19, 2011


"And what if the people who we'd actually want to persuade are berserk, and determined to dictate, based upon their own fears, how others live, with no respect for their wishes... Isn't it better to give up on attempting to persuade people who believe that the moon is made of cheese, and absolutely determined to continue to believe that the moon is made out of cheese, isn't laughter and scorn the only way to get them to blink and say to themselves "Hm, maybe I really am off-base here..." ?"

Those people who you want to persuade who are berserk and determined to dictate? They aren't here.

I don't have any real problem with making fun of Catholic beliefs where they're silly, but one of the recurrent problems with religious arguments here on MeFi is that people get angry at abstract other believers who aren't present. It's not fair, and that I think is more toxic to conversation than a couple of quips.
posted by klangklangston at 9:11 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Isn't it better to give up on attempting to persuade people who believe that the moon is made of cheese, and absolutely determined to continue to believe that the moon is made out of cheese, isn't laughter and scorn the only way to get them to blink and say to themselves "Hm, maybe I really am off-base here..." ?"

This is a sincere question -- have you actually ever seen that happen? I've always seen a far different response to mockery -- "ugh, these people are being mean! I'm getting out of here!"

And that tends to be a conversation-killer.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:15 AM on August 19, 2011


...one of the recurrent problems with religious arguments here on MeFi is that people get angry at abstract other believers...
One of the recurrent problems with religious arguments in general is that many atheists have this absurd notion that belonging to a religion reduces to belief in the mythology surrounding that religion. It doesn't. People belong to religions for a whole host of different reasons, and I'm pretty sure that, for most people, it's not because it's the most cogent and convincing explanation of the existence of Humanity/The Universe/You.

Actually, I think a lot of people believe in God for the same reason people smoke cigarettes---because it gets them through the fucking day. Because they need something that they can call upon for strength, or a belief that they can share with the flesh-and-blood people that they actually care about. Consciously or unconsciously. If you're being all loud and bombastic about how stupid it is to believe in the big scary sky-man, you're misunderstanding the problem in addition to alienating the people whose worldview you profess to want to change.
posted by nerdinexile at 9:29 AM on August 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


As a non-practicing Catholic who went to Catholic school as well, I completely agree with many of the criticisms in this thread. A lot of what is going on in this thread though is little more than pandering; in a community as overtly secular as MetaFilter, I think it is embarrassing, both as individuals, and as a community that is normally known for more nuanced discussion, to continue to go after the same low-hanging fruit.

You're an atheist or an agnostic? Congratulations, so am I. I've encountered the same writings you have, read about the same atrocities. Hell, I was writing about the awfulness and hypocrisy of the Catholic church for religion class when I was 12; incredibly, I wasn't expelled or excommunicated or anything!

Some people want religion, some people need religion, and some people are simply born into religion. When you attack religion, regardless of how backwards you may think it is, you're attacking those people, and perhaps worse, you're attacking the thing that binds some people to the only sense of community they've ever had.

The idea that you can criticize religion while not criticizing individuals is the same kind of logic that allows people to be racist/homophobic while absolving themselves by saying that they don't have a problem with (or are even friends with) individuals that are a part of those groups.

If non-religious people truly think those who authentically subscribe to religion comprise a group of intellectual unfortunates; then why as a community do we condone their ridicule? Do we think it is alright to insult the poor, or barring that, to carefully avoid insulting them while continuously pointing out, to their face, how stupid their financial decisions are? People often have as little choice about what religion they belong to as what socioeconomic stratum they are a part of.
posted by paradoxflow at 9:32 AM on August 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


@resurrexit "Ah, the only good Catholic is a bad Catholic."

If that's the case, and I didn't say it was, then it's the fault of the Church for making doing good forbidden.

@Jahaza Bill Donahue is my go to example for people mindlessly attacking any criticism of the Church as somehow being criticism of and bigotry against all Catholics everywhere. When you act like Bill Donahue I'll compare you to him. If you don't like the comparison then stop acting like him.

The way you and Donahue and resurrexit act you'd think that Catholics were a tiny little threatened minority like Jews in 1930's Poland. Catholics are the single most numerous religious sect on the whole flipping planet. In the USA a majority of the Supreme Court are Catholic. 30% of the US Congress is Catholic. Catholics aren't being persecuted and it's rather obscene for you to be playing the victim.

@EmpressCallipygos Perhaps you are correct.

But there's plenty of gentle, super polite and cautious, discussion of the Church, if I'm not joining the super cautious brigade they aren't any weaker for my absence.

More generally I treat discussions of religion the same way I treat discussions of anything else. I refuse to kowtow to the idea that religion is somehow super special and we have to tiptoe around it. We don't tiptoe around other matters of personal taste, check out any Star Wars vs. Star Trek discussion for an example.

To me asking for kid gloves when discussing religion smacks of granting religion a special status that I absolutely refuse to go along with. Religion is, after all, just a particularly rabid sort of fandom with a lot of old fanfic, there's a reason why in the geek fields they refer to the various fandom arguments (emacs vs. vi, RISC vs. SISC, Trek vs. Wars, etc) as "holy wars".

And, finally, there's the minor little detail that the Roman Catholic Church is actively doing a great deal of evil. CF AIDS in Africa, ongoing protection of rapists, etc. I don't see how treating the Church with kid gloves is going to encourage it to change its ways.

Frankly I don't see how anything will. Individual Catholics have no voice in the Church, it's a self perpetuating oligarchy with no mechanism by which the rank and file can influence the elite beyond either abandoning the Church altogether or withholding funds. The former is difficult for various reasons, and the latter is difficult because locally the Church does good stuff and people don't want to defund that.

I don't see the Church ever significantly reforming. Lay Catholics can't change anything, and the movers and shakers in the upper ranks of the hierarchy are chosen by a self selecting group of extremely conservative old men. If Martin Luther couldn't change the Church than me being more humble and cowardly on the net certainly won't.

More to the point, there is actual, real, measurable, harm being done by the Church. Am I to ignore that? To be kind and gentle to people who get upset because we're mocking an organization that is actively harming people?

Mockery is the absolute least that the top ranking members of the hierarchy deserve, and for people to get upset about that mockery, to me, illustrates a callous disregard on their part for the people harmed by the Church.

There are people, right this second, dying in Africa because they believed Archbishop Chimoio when he told his congregation that condoms were laced with HIV by European companies looking to eradicate black people.

There are people, right this second, being raped by priests because the Church won't turn those priests over to the real authorities.

In the face of that how can I care one whit about mockery of the Church? In the face of that how am I supposed to muster sympathy of American Catholics who get their feelings hurt by mockery of the Church?

To me those hurt feelings indicate a monstrous lack of empathy for the victims of the Church. I'm shocked and angered by what appears to me to be a completely inverted set of priorities, and I lash out at the monsters who care so little for real people that they freak out at mockery of an institution.
posted by sotonohito at 9:34 AM on August 19, 2011 [15 favorites]


""Ah, the only good Catholic is a bad Catholic.""

I dunno, they sounded like a pretty good Catholic to me, by way of being a good human. Or is being a good human less important to you than being a good Catholic?

(Further, that's not really the first time when being a good Catholic required ignoring or rejecting church precepts. They killed Franciscans for a while.)
posted by klangklangston at 9:43 AM on August 19, 2011


sotonohito, at the point where you are calling other members of this site idiots and monsters you pretty much need to step away. You don't have to care about mockery or agree that it's problematic, but this is not really an okay way to manifest that.
posted by cortex at 9:43 AM on August 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


To me asking for kid gloves when discussing religion smacks of granting religion a special status that I absolutely refuse to go along with. Religion is, after all, just a particularly rabid sort of fandom with a lot of old fanfic, there's a reason why in the geek fields they refer to the various fandom arguments (emacs vs. vi, RISC vs. SISC, Trek vs. Wars, etc) as "holy wars".

Dude, no one is asking for "kid gloves" and asking that you avoid criticism. What people are asking for is not being a dick about your critique.

It really is possible to critique the church about its policies without dragging out the "lolxtians" jokes about "invisible sky daddy" and such, and it really is possible to express your upset with the way the RCC has handled the pedophile scandal without making sniggering little "lock up your boys, here comes Father Jim" jokes in every Catholic thread.

That's the only thing people are saying -- that it's okay to not like the church, but just don't be a dick about it. That is a very different thing from "asking for kid gloves."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:45 AM on August 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


If you defend the organization called the Catholic Church are you not making the same mistakes that Jesus was mad at the Pharisees for making - understanding and upholding all the rules while missing the whole fucking point?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:46 AM on August 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


Oh, good, we're doing this again.

I'm the atheist black sheep in a very large, very Catholic family. I grew up devout, and drifted away from my faith in college: first to a sort of vague deism, then wishy-washy agnosticism, and finally hardcore Hitchens-style atheism, all hail Dawkins, etc. etc. etc.

When I say "fuck the Church", I'm not talking about my mom, who's a prison chaplain and pretty much the last kind person a lot of "her boys" are ever going to know. When I say "fuck the Pope", I'm not talking about my aunt, who has a framed photo of herself praying with John Paul II and supports the local homeless shelters with almost all of her free time and money.

And when I say "fuck the hierarchy that tries to spin criticism of the protection and enabling of serial child-rapists as the petty gossip of the secular barbarians at the gate", I'm not talking about my sister, who, when she finished renovating her house, had a priest come back to sprinkle holy water on her new kitchen cabinets. She also believes that Jesus Himself called her to work with developmentally disabled children and their families, and she does so much good in that capacity that my heart fucking explodes with pride.

The Catholic Church, as an institution, doesn't deserve one iota of my respect. The cardinals and archbishops and bishops and priests who work full-time to cover up and perpetuate a system that explicitly allows serial child rapists to serially rape children deserve my complete and utter loathing—for starters.

Individual lay Catholics deserve, and get, my provisional respect, not because they're Catholic, but because I believe each person I meet is entitled to basic human decency, at least until they do something to convince me otherwise.

But fuck the Church. Fuck Ratzinger. Fuck any hierarchy that systematically shores up its power at the explicit expense of its weakest charges, and fuck each and every one of its defenders.

"Yes, it's bad, but—" No, fuck you. Yes. It's bad. Quit defending it, quit distracting from it, quit doing anything except busting your ass trying to fix it. Because it's probably true that change can only come from the inside. So drop the persecution complex, quit getting in butt-hurt slap-fights on the internet, and start fixing it.

The Catholic Church has a toxic stance vis-à-vis serial-rapist priests that produces and perpetuates demonstrable evil. I refuse to believe that anyone can look at that sentence in good faith and read "You, personally, as a Catholic, are a bad person", and I refuse to stop saying it because it might be "disrespectful". There are bigger issues at stake here than "respect", and refusing to acknowledge that makes you look profoundly, profoundly, un-Christlike. For starters.
posted by Zozo at 9:49 AM on August 19, 2011 [19 favorites]


The idea that you can criticize religion while not criticizing individuals is the same kind of logic that allows people to be racist/homophobic while absolving themselves by saying that they don't have a problem with (or are even friends with) individuals that are a part of those groups.


This is bullshit. Religious people can be persecuted minorities, but religions also promulgate a set of beliefs which are either true or not and subject to criticism and even mockery. People have a right to believe what they will and shouldn't be subject to persecution because of it, but the rest of us have a right to argue against those beliefs.

As long as the criticisms of Catholic belief are accurate, I don't see the problem with attacking or mocking them. What drives me nuts about anti-Catholic tirades on metafilter isn't that their anti-Catholic, but that they ascribe beliefs to people which they do not hold and then mock or scorn them for it.

If you want to make fun of belief in the transubstantiation? It's rude, but fair game, imo. If you want to mock Catholics for thinking the Pope is always infallible, then you aren't just being rude, you're also wrong, which is worse.
posted by empath at 9:55 AM on August 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


Bill Donahue is my go to example for people mindlessly attacking any criticism of the Church as somehow being criticism of and bigotry against all Catholics everywhere. When you act like Bill Donahue I'll compare you to him. If you don't like the comparison then stop acting like him.

You can compare my behaviour to Bill Donohue's if you want. (I've met the man; I don't behave like him.) But that's reasonably a matter of opinion. What's not a matter of opinion is whether I endorse everything Bill Donohue says. You didn't write, "You're like Bill Donohue," you wrote, "Bill Donahue said it, you believe it, that settles it." This is factually incorrect, as I demonstrated (unless you want to accuse me of secretly agreeing with him and lying about it.) That you would say such a thing and then have it pointed out to you and then not retract it, but use it as a jumping off point for more insults. Well... I have trouble knowing how to respond to that.
posted by Jahaza at 9:58 AM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


In the face of that how am I supposed to muster sympathy of American Catholics who get their feelings hurt by mockery of the Church?

You do realize that the victims of the serial rapists you are talking about are the very same people that you can't muster any sympathy for.

It's not exactly a coherent position.
posted by empath at 9:59 AM on August 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Catholic Church has a toxic stance vis-à-vis serial-rapist priests that produces and perpetuates demonstrable evil. I refuse to believe that anyone can look at that sentence in good faith and read "You, personally, as a Catholic, are a bad person", and I refuse to stop saying it because it might be "disrespectful".

And believe it or not, no one is asking you TO stop saying "The Catholic Church has a toxic stance vis-à-vis serial-rapist priests that produces and perpetuates demonstrable evil."

OR, to stop saying "The cardinals and archbishops and bishops and priests who work full-time to cover up and perpetuate a system that explicitly allows serial child rapists to serially rape children deserve my complete and utter loathing—for starters."

OR, to not say "Fuck any hierarchy that systematically shores up its power at the explicit expense of its weakest charges."

And -- to borrow your own analogy -- when people say "stop the hate speech," they're NOT talking about those examples, which point squarely at the hierarchy and the structure of the institution itself, and not the belief system.

The ONLY THING that is being requested is that people not make the jump from saying things like

"The cardinals and archbishops and bishops and priests who work full-time to cover up and perpetuate a system that explicitly allows serial child rapists to serially rape children deserve my complete and utter loathing—for starters."

to calling other people whom you're actively talking to idiots and monsters. That's all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:59 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos, I appreciate your attempting to pour oil on the waters here, but I do actually have a problem with:

"The cardinals and archbishops and bishops and priests who work full-time to cover up and perpetuate a system that explicitly allows serial child rapists to serially rape children deserve my complete and utter loathing—for starters."

I would disagree with (but not call offensive) "perpetuate a system that allows serial child rapists to serially rape children", but (my emphasis), "perpetuate a system that explicitly allows serial child rapists to serially rape children" is either to commit slander or to have a reckless disregard for writing your opinions in a way that doesn't appear to slander other people.

Serial child rape is not "explicitly allow[ed]" by the Catholic Church.
posted by Jahaza at 10:05 AM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


empath: I haven't seen very many hierarchies that don't shore up their power "at the explicit expense of [their] weakest charges." I haven't seen many organizations whose members don't at least try protect each other from the negative consequences of their actions, regardless of how evil those actions are. These problems aren't inherent to Catholicism---hell, they may be a fundamental consequence of the hierarchy model of human organization in the first place. We are tribal creatures. We tend to protect those that we consider part of the same thing that we are. We tend to have limited empathy for outsiders. This is true no matter what group of people you're talking about.
posted by nerdinexile at 10:07 AM on August 19, 2011


Oh, whoops. That was directed at Zozo, not empath. Sorry.
posted by nerdinexile at 10:09 AM on August 19, 2011


I think, jahaza, that I took the word "system" in the phrase "perpetuate a system that...." to refer to the hierarchy and power structure and administration of the church, rather than referring to "the Church" as an entity.

It'd be like, if Disneyland suddenly was taken over by a bunch of people into veganism or something, and was requiring everyone to eschew dairy if you wanted to work there, and someone else came along and complained "I wouldn't want to perpetuate a system that dictates people's dietary habits". In that case, by "system" they're talking about the people in charge, not about Mickey Mouse.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:09 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos, even if "system" refers to the people in charge and not to the Church, I don't think it's fair to say that the hierarchy as a whole explicitly allows the serial rape of children. I think in some cases, they have acted or failed to act in ways that have allowed the serial rape of children, just like the majority of Catholics are "good people" the majority of Catholic hierarchs have never been accused of (let alone had it proven) explicitly approving of serial child rape.
posted by Jahaza at 10:16 AM on August 19, 2011


that comment is a grammatical mess
posted by Jahaza at 10:17 AM on August 19, 2011


Ohhhh, I see what you're saying now. Gotcha.

Eh, I think I just chalked that up to a less-than-perfect word choice. also, I wouldn't call that an excuse to call out the "BE RESPECTFUL!" cannon, I'd instead respond by pointing out that "okay, I do agree that the hierarchy is seriously fucking things up and I'm mad about that too. But saying they 'explicitly' allowed that implies that they INTENDED for that to happen, and I'm not sure that that's what you meant to say."

I tend to assume that people said something but picked weird words to say it with, and I let 'em know that that's how it came across to me so they can alter the record if they so choose.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:27 AM on August 19, 2011


Jahaza: "EmpressCallipygos, even if "system" refers to the people in charge and not to the Church, I don't think it's fair to say that the hierarchy as a whole explicitly allows the serial rape of children. I think in some cases, they have acted or failed to act in ways that have allowed the serial rape of children, just like the majority of Catholics are "good people" the majority of Catholic hierarchs have never been accused of (let alone had it proven) explicitly approving of serial child rape."

So now you are splitting hairs on the language describing how this church has allowed all of the coverups involved in multi-generational mass serial rapes of children? Like, if we phrase it one way and not another, it'll make any difference to the children or to the broken organization which has allowed this to happen and still actively fosters it -- cool!

I think this is a new depth.
posted by dancestoblue at 10:32 AM on August 19, 2011 [9 favorites]


I tend to assume that people said something but picked weird words to say it with, and I let 'em know that that's how it came across to me so they can alter the record if they so choose.

Yeah, I was in the process of posting a comment along those lines and then got distracted, because you came along and said "this is O.K." and I was more "This is borderline".

Apologies to Zozo for not doing that precisely the way I would have liked.
posted by Jahaza at 10:33 AM on August 19, 2011


Like, if we phrase it one way and not another, it'll make any difference to the children or to the broken organization which has allowed this to happen and still actively fosters it -- cool!

O.K. ... let me try to engage in what I've just said I do prefer. Yes, the phrasing makes a difference. Like here, it sounds to me like you're saying that the Catholic Church and/or the hierarchy of the Catholic Church are "actively fostering" child rape. That sounds offensive, perhaps you can clarify?
posted by Jahaza at 10:36 AM on August 19, 2011


I'm not going to play language games with you. You keep trying to distract by throwing all this hogwash out there, this papal decree or that one, this word or that one. I've been watching you now for right at 12 hours; the game you play would be comical if it wasn't so sad.
posted by dancestoblue at 10:41 AM on August 19, 2011


Like, if we phrase it one way and not another, it'll make any difference to the children or to the broken organization which has allowed this to happen and still actively fosters it -- cool!

Are you saying that they are INTENTIONALLY causing rape to happen ON PURPOSE? As in, "I know, if we relocate this priest here, we'll get even more victims"?

Assuming that's not what you mean. Just wanted to check, though. Because I am just as bothered by what's happening, but accusing them of causing it ON PURPOSE actually does more harm than good, to my mind, and will just cause them to be more defensive and dig in the hierarchy even further.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:42 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jahaza, I don't now how you can ignore the fact that the Catholic Church clergy world-wide has had a problem with child rape for centuries and have covered it up. Whether they intentionally allowed child-rape or just cared more about their reputation than stopping the acts, I don't think really matters much. The end result is a lot of child rapes that should have been prevented.
posted by empath at 10:43 AM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure about intentional, EC -- is it intentional to keep driving drunk after doing so repeatedly has killed many people in your world? So maybe not intentional but I'd hope the person would quit driving drunk, or the person who has the keys to his car won't give them to him any longer.

So, do I think that when Cardinal Melville sends Father Fred over to the next county that he hopes the guy will do the same to the children as he did in this county? No. But he keeps putting the guy behind the wheel, again and again, and paying everyone off to keep it quiet when the guy keeps running people down.

I'm just doing all I can to point out and not get caught up in these side runs Jahaza keeps on throwing out there; if you follow back up the thread you'll see he/she has been up to it the whole time.
posted by dancestoblue at 10:49 AM on August 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Jahaza and such apologists are always eager make the "one bad apple" argument in response to every abuse in the history of the RCC. Amazing. No matter how pervasive and endemic, to these guys, its never a systemic problem. You'd think, at some point, the same rules would that apply to every organization on earth, would obtain in the case of the RCC: institutional responsibility. But no. And yet, the reports never stop:

'Endemic' rape and abuse of Irish children in Catholic care, inquiry finds

"Rape and sexual molestation were "endemic" in Irish Catholic church-run industrial schools and orphanages, a report revealed today.

The nine-year investigation found that Catholic priests and nuns for decades terrorised thousands of boys and girls in the Irish Republic, while government inspectors failed to stop the chronic beatings, rape and humiliation.

The high court judge Sean Ryan today unveiled the 2,600-page final report of Ireland's commission into child abuse, which drew on testimony from thousands of former inmates and officials from more than 250 church-run institutions. Police were called to the news conference amid angry scenes as victims were prevented from attending.
"

No, not an institutional problem. It's just a few bad apples.

The hierarchy of the RCC is rotten to the core. The fact that they have not managed to clean up their act is not due to the failings of a few bad apples. It's a systemic problem. Only outside intervention can be effective here. Given the extensive obstruction of justice, I think we need to employ the same legal and investigative tools we would against any organized crime. The mafia is still around and so is the RCC, but it appears only the mafia is being actively looked into. It's high time to change that.
posted by VikingSword at 10:53 AM on August 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't now how you can ignore the fact that the Catholic Church clergy world-wide has had a problem with child rape for centuries and have covered it up. Whether they intentionally allowed child-rape or just cared more about their reputation than stopping the acts, I don't think really matters much. The end result is a lot of child rapes that should have been prevented.

No one's saying that we should "ignore" that at all. Nor is anyone denying that there are rapes that should have been prevented.

But there IS a difference between -- to use the analogy dancestoblue just provided -- accusing Cardinal Melville of sending Father Fred over to the next county because he HOPES Father Fred will commit newer crimes, and accusing Cardinal Melville of sending Father Fred over to the next county because Cardinal Melville is in denial or naive about what Father Fred would do. And the reason this difference matters is: if you accuse Cardinal Melville of INTENIONALLY HOPING Father Fred will commit crimes, he will be able to say "that's completely false," and he'll write you off as someone who doesn't know what they're talking about and stop listening to you, and nothign gets solved. But if you accuse Cardinal Melville of being in DENIAL about it, you stand a chance of Cardinal Melville realizing that...hey, maybe you're right and he IS in denial, and he should do something about it, and then he DOES make the change you're seeking.

In a nutshell, I guess what I'm saying is "sometimes it's not a good idea to inadvertently accuse people of doing things they aren't doing, because then they feel like they can blow you off."

The hierarchy of the RCC is rotten to the core. The fact that they have not managed to clean up their act is not due to the failings of a few bad apples. It's a systemic problem.

VikingSword, this is going to come as a shock to you --

I agree with this statement of yours.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:57 AM on August 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


dancestoblue: I don't think you're being fair to Jahaza here: this thread wasn't initially about the Catholic church's history of child abuse. You seem to be saying that he came in here with the intention of confusing the issue and muddling the discussion: I think that the derail has done more to do that than he has. Yeah, some of his posts above sound like rules-lawyering, and that's because there are a lot of rules lawyers in the church. It's an element of what the organization does that's necessary to understand the organization.

It's not as if people don't know about the issues you're discussing.
posted by nerdinexile at 10:59 AM on August 19, 2011


The costumes are not silly, they are awesome. That's all I have to add.
posted by winna at 11:00 AM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


But there IS a difference between -- to use the analogy dancestoblue just provided -- accusing Cardinal Melville of sending Father Fred over to the next county because he HOPES Father Fred will commit newer crimes, and accusing Cardinal Melville of sending Father Fred over to the next county because Cardinal Melville is in denial or naive about what Father Fred would do.

I think it's more than he didn't really care whether Father Fred was raping kids or not, just that he moved them over to a new parish to cover up the rapes that had been discovered. He can say to whoever complained -- look, we've moved Father Fred so you don't have to worry about him any more. And whenever Father Fred raped a kid in the next parish, they'd move him again and so on. And there would be no negative consequences to the church until someone put the pieces together. It was depraved, whether or not the child rape was intentional. It may have been incidental, but the end effect is the same.
posted by empath at 11:01 AM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: Aborted itself senseless.
posted by symbioid at 11:06 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is a lot of evidence, btw, that the problem of child rape and homosexual activity by priests is at the core of the church's problems with 'sodomy' in general and that it's been going on for centuries.

Andrew Sullivan wrote a fantastic article about the history of sodomy in the catholic church, but I can't find it now.
posted by empath at 11:06 AM on August 19, 2011


Here it is
So it's perhaps unsurprising that Jordan's research doesn't discover the actual nouns "sodomy" and "sodomite" until the eleventh century. The first and most influential polemic against it was the hermit monk Peter Damian's Book of Gomorrah. Given the period's expansive definition of sodomy (it did, after all, include masturbation), it's not surprising that Damian believed it was rife. But his particular fixation--which has persisted in religious teachings ever since--is with same-sex male sodomy. This is partly because Damian is most concerned with sodomy as a clerical vice, the ubiquity of which among priests he thought threatened the integrity of the Church. But what's fascinating about Damian is his struggle to understand the nature of the sodomite. He had no understanding of homosexuality, which even the Church now describes as an "innate" facet of human personhood. And so he keeps bumping up against the apparent ineradicability of the vice. All sins, after all, are redeemable in the eyes of God. But this sin seems immune to change. So Damian lays almost no emphasis in redeeming sodomites but, rather, focuses on purging them. This is where the analogy to Sodom comes in and why Damian seems so intent on connecting this vice to the ancient city. Because sodomites seem consumed by their desires and unable or preternaturally unwilling to change, the only possible response to them is damnation. Indeed, Damian favors the death penalty for such behavior, in line with Leviticus. The logic seems to be that, since these people cannot change, they must be destroyed, just as Sodom was destroyed, and that destruction is a vital reaffirmation of the divine order.
posted by empath at 11:08 AM on August 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


The RCC position on abortion and the consequences it engenders are beyond the pale.

Nine-Year-Old's Abortion Outrages Brazil's Catholic Church

"The case of the pregnant 9-year-old was shocking enough. But it was the response of the Catholic Church that infuriated many Brazilians. Archibishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho of the coastal city of Recife announced that the Vatican was excommunicating the family of a local girl who had been raped and impregnated with twins by her stepfather, because they had chosen to have the girl undergo an abortion. The Church excommunicated the doctors who performed the procedure as well. "God's laws," said the archbishop, dictate that abortion is a sin and that transgressors are no longer welcome in the Roman Catholic Church. "They took the life of an innocent," Sobrinho told TIME in a telephone interview. "Abortion is much more serious than killing an adult. An adult may or may not be an innocent, but an unborn child is most definitely innocent. Taking that life cannot be ignored."
posted by VikingSword at 11:11 AM on August 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


nerdinexile: "dancestoblue: I don't think you're being fair to Jahaza here: this thread wasn't initially about the Catholic church's history of child abuse. "
No, you are absolutely right on that, the thread didn't start about this and that yes, this is a derail of course. And that issue IE child sexual molestation by this church, that is not what I am talking about WRT Jahaza and the legalese he/she keeps spinning; it's all the way back up the thread, in any way that it can be contrived, legalese put in any place where it can dull the edge of the flow in this thread. IMO; YMMV.

"You seem to be saying that he came in here with the intention of confusing the issue and muddling the discussion:"
I don't have any idea why he/she came in here but whether that was/is the intent or not it certainly is the outcome. IMO;YMMV

"I think that the derail has done more to do that than he has."
Agreed. I didn't start the derail, this thread is moving fast/furious, twice I've had answers written no longer relevant as the thread has moved on so fast.

" Yeah, some of his posts above sound like rules-lawyering, "
You betcha!

"and that's because there are a lot of rules lawyers in the church. It's an element of what the organization does that's necessary to understand the organization."
So it would appear.

" It's not as if people don't know about the issues you're discussing."
Agreed.

Also agreed that this derail is absolutely WAY off topic, and maybe we should wend our way back to ... drum roll ... Sin Free Abortion! This Weekend Only! etc and etc
posted by dancestoblue at 11:11 AM on August 19, 2011


I think it's more than he didn't really care whether Father Fred was raping kids or not, just that he moved them over to a new parish to cover up the rapes that had been discovered. He can say to whoever complained -- look, we've moved Father Fred so you don't have to worry about him any more. And whenever Father Fred raped a kid in the next parish, they'd move him again and so on. And there would be no negative consequences to the church until someone put the pieces together.

Again, I agree that the end result was horrible. But I'm not quite sure that "he didn't really care" is quite accurate either -- at least in a general sense.

The idea behind moving priests comes from a more complicated area than just "not caring". The priests who were relocated were also spoken to, and urged to seek help for their urges and warned not to do it again. It was more of a "keeping the problem in-house" by trying to solve things on their own than it was just "not caring" -- kind of like someone who wants to handle a parent's drinking by sitting him down at the kitchen table and giving him a good talking-to or being on constant "booze patrol" at home and hunting out the hidden bottles of vodka and dumping them down the sink rather than turning him over to the cops or to a hospital.

Is such a move wise, or the best course of action? Absolutely not. It's naive, it's ineffective, it's coming from a place of denial about the depth of the problem. But is it a symptom of someone "not caring" about the problem? I wouldn't say so -- on the contrary, they do care very much. They're just not able to face the fact that they can't solve the problem on their own yet.

And the way to make someone like that realize that they can't solve the problem on their own is by understanding that THAT is the place theyr'e in, rather than accusing them of "not caring". Because then they just dig in further and the problem persists even longer, I believe.

....as for the notion that homosexuality and child rape has been at the root of the church's objection to "sodomy", I'd wonder if the fact that non-Catholic denominations are even louder in their objection might disprove that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:12 AM on August 19, 2011


....as for the notion that homosexuality and child rape has been at the root of the church's objection to "sodomy", I'd wonder if the fact that non-Catholic denominations are even louder in their objection might disprove that.

There were no non-Catholic denominations in the 11th century (aside from the Orthodox). All of it is derived from Catholicism. And I really don't think there are many denominations more anti-gay than Catholics or more backwards on sexuality in general.
posted by empath at 11:15 AM on August 19, 2011


You keep trying to distract by throwing all this hogwash out there, this papal decree or that one, this word or that one.

I'm just doing all I can to point out and not get caught up in these side runs Jahaza keeps on throwing out there; if you follow back up the thread you'll see he/she has been up to it the whole time.

it's all the way back up the thread, in any way that it can be contrived, legalese put in any place where it can dull the edge of the flow in this thread. IMO; YMMV.

My first and long comment was about the specifics of how excommunication works, the topic of the thread.

The only papal decree I've "thrown out" was related to the topic of the post: confessors being given extraordinary powers in times of large religious celebrations.

These is not a side run distraction from the thread, it's the topic of the thread. You're entitled to your anti-religious views, but when religious rules are the topic of the thread, it's reasonable to discuss them. It's not a distraction.

I objected, briefly, to the implication that these rules were created because the Catholic Church belives "Those sluts should have to live with the consequences of their actions."

But even after that, there's some good discussion of the topic of the post, then Sotonohito (and VikingSword) decided they really wanted to have yet another fight about the Catholic hierarchy being evil and my being a "wilful idiot" and "monstrous".

Also agreed that this derail is absolutely WAY off topic, and maybe we should wend our way back to ... drum roll ... Sin Free Abortion! This Weekend Only! etc and etc

And that's not what's happening in Madrid... it's not even close to what's happening in Madrid, which we've tried to explain, but it's more entertaining to you to complain about those explanations?
posted by Jahaza at 11:15 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


But even after that, there's some good discussion of the topic of the post, then Sotonohito (and VikingSword) decided they really wanted to have yet another fight about the Catholic hierarchy being evil and my being a "wilful idiot" and "monstrous".

Umm, where have I called anyone a "wilful idiot" or "monstrous"? My only reference to you, was in the context of "a few bad apples" vs "systemic" problems with the RCC and child abuse. I linked to the sources. How about addressing issues on their merits, instead of misdirecting with false accusations?
posted by VikingSword at 11:22 AM on August 19, 2011


And I really don't think there are many denominations more anti-gay than Catholics or more backwards on sexuality in general.

When was the last time you saw Catholics waving "God hates fags" signs? Yeah, never. There are in fact many denominations "more anti-gay than Catholics."

You are at odds with the Church's basic stance on homosexuality but maybe you can agree that this stance is at least remarkably more charitable than that of many other denominations:
The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2358)
posted by Cortes at 11:29 AM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


VikingSword: Those are both direct quotes from sotonohito's post. He was the subject of that sentence... you appeared in parenthesis. Accusing Jahaza of "misdirecting with false accusations" smacks of hypocrisy---it's not like you couldn't control-F and find out exactly which post he was referencing.

Are there any Catholic clergy that can explain the theological justification for the nature of the way spiritual authority is distributed in the Church (e.g. why do priests have to get permission from bishops to give the sacraments to people who have had abortions, why is it that the church is the only entity qualified to give the sacraments in the first place, &c.)?
posted by nerdinexile at 11:29 AM on August 19, 2011


There were no non-Catholic denominations in the 11th century (aside from the Orthodox). All of it is derived from Catholicism.

We're getting into the realm of intellectual tangent here, but...I think this is a "yes and no" kind of thing. That is how the Catholic Church would tell it, and that is a broad-strokes way of looking at it in general -- but other denominations would argue that no, Catholicism itself is the deviation from the path set out by Christ and they're the ones that brought Christianity back to what it should be. They'd probably object strongly to the argument that their standards were "derived from Catholicism".

Also -- your quote above seems to refer not to a churchwide-thing, but to the writings of one guy who sounded a little...obsessed with sex, honestly, to the point that if he were a 21st century figure lots of people in here would be thinking "hmmm, is he a closet case?" I don't deny that there have been indeed priests, monks, and other thinkers throughout history who thought like him -- what I'm not seeing is how that one case is by extension proof that the stance of the church as a whole had its roots in "priests were getting it on all the time" or anything. I mean -- Occam's Razor would suggest that Leviticus itself may have had a bit more to do with that.

And I really don't think there are many denominations more anti-gay than Catholics or more backwards on sexuality in general.

I think the Westboro Baptist Church may be a LITTLE BIT more anti-gay...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:29 AM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


The analogy I came up with was a natural for me, having driven drunk oh so many times. I'm 56; used to be that when you (I) got pulled over, the cops would say "Now, you go on home." and they'd pull off, and unless you were a fool you still had some alcohol stashed under the seat or in the trunk or whatever and you kept on driving around drinking.

All that began to stop -- and FAST -- in the early 1980s. No more do you get pulled over and told to go home; if you get pulled over and the cop even THINKS you might be drunk, you either take a breathalyser (sp?) or the law is that you have conceded that you are drunk, the punishment is the same whether you take the breath test or not. (In fact, here in Texas now, the cops can FORCE you to submit to a blood test, anytime they want to, which totally blows, seems they are totally out of control to me. But they didn't ask me.)

I wrote all that to write this: People have changed. A lot. They know now that if they get caught they're going to get into deep shit, at the very least it's going to cost them ten grand in fines, legal fees, blah blah blah, insurance going up, etc and etc. So because the enforcement of the rules has changed -- same rules that were on the books then, pretty much -- because enforcement has tightened, attitudes and actions have changed.

That church does not seem interested in tough love. Come ON. It's been long years now, that this has been in the open for long years now. They are just flat refusing to change. I like the analogy (upthread, by VikingSword) of the mafia and the church, both criminal organizations which see themselves totally above the law:
VikingSword: "
The hierarchy of the RCC is rotten to the core. The fact that they have not managed to clean up their act is not due to the failings of a few bad apples. It's a systemic problem. Only outside intervention can be effective here. Given the extensive obstruction of justice, I think we need to employ the same legal and investigative tools we would against any organized crime. The mafia is still around and so is the RCC, but it appears only the mafia is being actively looked into. It's high time to change that
"

Way past time for some RICO (Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations) type laws here, maybe they could be called RCCO laws instead (Roman Catholic Corrupt Organizations).
posted by dancestoblue at 11:31 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that was unfair, I was writing about the derail of the thread into discussion of child abuse and the evil of the hierarchy, which both of you participated in, though Sotonohito earlier, and then mentioned Sonohito's personal insults in a way that seems to implicate you in them specifically. Not careful editing. Apologies.
posted by Jahaza at 11:32 AM on August 19, 2011


btw, no more drunk driving here, I'm a citizen nowadays...
posted by dancestoblue at 11:36 AM on August 19, 2011


I think the Westboro Baptist Church may be a LITTLE BIT more anti-gay...

I think if you have to go to the WBC, then you've pretty much proved my point.

Also -- your quote above seems to refer not to a churchwide-thing, but to the writings of one guy who sounded a little...obsessed with sex, honestly, to the point that if he were a 21st century figure lots of people in here would be thinking "hmmm, is he a closet case?"

That pretty much applies to every anti-gay writer in Church history, going back to Ancient Rome.
posted by empath at 11:36 AM on August 19, 2011


You are at odds with the Church's basic stance on homosexuality but maybe you can agree that this stance is at least remarkably more charitable than that of many other denominations:

I don't find that charitable at all, and it goes right along with the trite 'love the sinner, hate the sin' bullshit that all the other christian groups couch their homophobia in.
posted by empath at 11:37 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Got to step away for a few hours, back into my day
posted by dancestoblue at 11:39 AM on August 19, 2011


To continue your point, dancestoblue -- you say that before the 1980's, cops dealt with you by just telling you to "go home and sleep it off". Would you say that they "didn't care" about what you were doing when they said that? I'd wager "no."

People have changed. A lot. They know now that if they get caught they're going to get into deep shit, at the very least it's going to cost them ten grand in fines, legal fees, blah blah blah, insurance going up, etc and etc. So because the enforcement of the rules has changed -- same rules that were on the books then, pretty much -- because enforcement has tightened, attitudes and actions have changed.

This is true -- but people change a lot faster than millennia-old institutions change. I mean, hell, there are still Catholics who are upset about the changes brought about by Vatican II, to the point that they haven't recognized any of the officially-nominated popes since 1963 -- and some of the changes they object to are things like "hey, wouldn't it be a good idea to say the Mass in the same language the worshippers actually speak?"

I absolutely agree that the church should handle things differently. But I also am aware of what is driving the way they're handling things now, and the reason I try to make myself aware of that is so I can better make my own case to them. You've gotta know how to speak someone's language before they will understand what you're saying.

I think if you have to go to the WBC, then you've pretty much proved my point.

....Then I'm afraid you'll have to explain it to me, because I'm not seeing how it does.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:40 AM on August 19, 2011


Thank you Jahaza for remaining civil. Re: "derailing the thread into discussion of child abuse and the evil of the hierarchy" I would like to point out, that I only participated after YOU went there first; I was not the initiator, I was responding to YOU making claims about the levels of responsibility of the hierarchy. It strikes me as unfair for you to then chastise me for participating in a derail that you already were quite active in. I didn't bring it up - but I wasn't going to let your position go unchallenged.
posted by VikingSword at 11:41 AM on August 19, 2011


I think if you have to go to the WBC, then you've pretty much proved my point.

But that's just a convenient counterexample, not the totality of the discussion. How about the Southern Baptist Convention:
Homosexuality is not a "valid alternative lifestyle." The Bible condemns it as sin. It is not, however, unforgivable sin. The same redemption available to all sinners is available to homosexuals. They, too, may become new creations in Christ.
This appears to state that homosexuality per se is a sin, which is arguably more extreme than the Catholic position. (Though I am not that experienced in Southern Baptist moral theology.)

why do priests have to get permission from bishops to give the sacraments to people who have had abortions

Because priests need permission from a bishop to remit excommunications. This leads to the question of why abortion is punished with excommunication when other crimes, such as murder, are not. One of the ways that excommunication and other punishments get used in the Code of Canon law is to make more serious crimes that society doesn't take seriously. Abortion is punished with excommunication because it's seen as a form of murder that's especially societally damaging because a) it's a crime against the most defenseless members of society and b) it's not punished by the laws of many nations. Similarly, when dueling was expressly or tacitly permitted by the civil law it was punished with excommunication because it was seen as a form of murder that was not being addequetly addressed by the civil law (like "b" above with abortion).

why is it that the church is the only entity qualified to give the sacraments in the first place

The Catholic Church teaches that it was founded by Christ and that Christ instituted the sacraments and gave them to the Church to use.
posted by Jahaza at 11:51 AM on August 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Homosexuality is not a "valid alternative lifestyle." The Bible condemns it as sin. It is not, however, unforgivable sin. The same redemption available to all sinners is available to homosexuals. They, too, may become new creations in Christ.

It's the exact same position. The catholic church believes homosexuals are 'objectively disordered". In either case, it's homosexual acts that are the sin, not homosexual orientation.
posted by empath at 11:56 AM on August 19, 2011


So I'm asking--why is this mortal(?) sin different from all other mortal sins?

In Catholicism, this arises from two things:

1) New Testament scripture makes reference to various types of sinners (murder, fornication, blasphemers, etc) who won't enter the Kingdom of Heaven. This has developed into the notion of being in a state of grace or peace with God. Minor sins are still an offense, but they don't create enmity between humans and God in such a way that they are barred from Heaven.

2) The belief in major and minor sins is largely supported by 1 John 5, 16-17: If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal. Much has been written over the centuries to clarify which sins are mortal, but these are all guidelines. Ultimately one is responsible to know if their sin, however large or small, has created a wedge between them and God.
posted by dgran at 11:57 AM on August 19, 2011


D'oh... I just answered the wrong question. You asked why it is different from other mortal sins, not why there are mortal and venial sins. My bad. Truthfully, I don't know why.
posted by dgran at 11:59 AM on August 19, 2011


It's the exact same position. The catholic church believes homosexuals are 'objectively disordered". In either case, it's homosexual acts that are the sin, not homosexual orientation.

Ok... here's a different SBC resolution (my emphasis):
WHEREAS, God makes it clear in Scripture that even desire to engage in a homosexual sexual relationship is always sinful, impure, degrading, shameful, unnatural, indecent and perverted (Rom. 1:24-27), so any effort to extend the meaning of marriage in order to sanction the satisfaction of such desire must also be in every case sinful, impure, degrading, shameful, unnatural, indecent and perverted;
The Catholic Church, as a general matter, does not hold that desiring to do something sinful is to commit a sin (which requires an act of the will, something more than a desire). In application here it seems that at least some Southern Baptists (their polity is different than ours) hold that the homosexual desire is by itself sinful, which is more radical than the Catholic position, which, by the way is that homosexual inclination is "objectively disordered". To the extent that we also believe that homosexuals are objectively disordered, they're not in that fact different than all ordinary people who all have desires that are objectively disordered.
posted by Jahaza at 12:23 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


To continue your point, dancestoblue -- you say that before the 1980's, cops dealt with you by just telling you to "go home and sleep it off". Would you say that they "didn't care" about what you were doing when they said that? I'd wager "no."

That analogy with the evolution of American drunk-driving policy makes a lot of sense to me (and should to anyone whose dad got driven [or followed!] home by the sheriff in 1974 and you, living today, can't believe your ears).* Applying it to abuse, I don't think a lot of churchmen realized how widespread the problem was and that their previous laxity in disciplining known abusers was actually part of the problem. Most just treated it like the incomprehensible, WTF, "funny uncle" disorder they understood it to be, not the highly recidivistic, predatorial disorder we understand it to be. And the Catholic Church now treats this exactly like wider society treats alcoholism and drunk-driving: no tolerance for it whatsoever. One and done.

This enlightened-policy-follows-understanding model has been faithful Catholics' lens for viewing this issue as it developed and we are furious at, and want to see in prison, those very few in leadership roles** who--even after we as a society came to understand the disorder--continued to act as if they do not understand the disorder. Call it the "few bad apples" model if you will. But to insist that the leadership of the Catholic Church at all levels are secretly in on this huge conspiracy to conceal crime? Even today?

Call me an apologist if you like but, sorry, you lost me.

*To an extent--it would make more sense if every time someone drove drunk a child's life was destroyed, as we now know sexual abuse can do.

**I say leadership--as in bishops--because I believe it's rarely, if ever, fair to impute one individual cleric's random, secret crimes to the wider church. How was anyone supposed to know Fr. Joe was going to do what he did? I'm referring to the very few bishops who, once they found out that Fr. Joe had done what he did, continued to act as if it were no big deal or, worse, attempted to hide it.
posted by resurrexit at 12:28 PM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


If I can help with somewhat plainer language --

The Catholic church's stance is "okay, yeah, thinking about engaging in homosexual acts isn't great, but it's no worse than thinking about stealing or thinking about cheating on your wife. We all think about doing things that we shouldn't do, that's just part of being human. It's when you actually DO it that we got the problem." The Baptist Church's stance is "We have a problem with you even thinking about it, even if you stay celibate your whole life."

Mind you, I also think it's not a great thing to lump homosexuality itself in with things like stealing and cheating on your wife. But that's a far more ingrained thing, and is a problem not unique to the Catholic church -- and not even to Christian religions. So that's a WHOLE other topic, to my mind.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:31 PM on August 19, 2011


Sorry -- my comment was meant to come after Jahaza's.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:33 PM on August 19, 2011


"Special powers have been given to me by my country's laws to say, fuck the Catholic church.
posted by orange swan at 9:05 AM
"

I am unfamiliar with the Canadian documents, Orange Swan, but the United States Declaration of Independance holds that the power to say "Fuck the Catholic Church" is a natural right and not a special power granted by the the State.
posted by longsleeves at 12:34 PM on August 19, 2011


I am unfamiliar with the Canadian documents, Orange Swan, but the United States Declaration of Independance holds that the power to say "Fuck the Catholic Church" is a natural right and not a special power granted by the the State.

Moreover -- since someone raised the First Amendment thing -- Metafilter is a private institution, and if the powers that be here say you do NOT have the right to say "Fuck the Catholic Church" while you are posting on this site, that trumps United States law.

....for the record, longsleeves, it was the Constitution that said that, not the Declaration.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:39 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


....for the record, longsleeves, it was the Constitution that said that, not the Declaration.

While the First Amendment (and the 14th, which is key to making the First do what people are thinking of it doing here) are in the Constitution, the idea that rights are natural ("endowed by the Creator") and not from the state is inherent in the Declaration.
posted by Jahaza at 12:47 PM on August 19, 2011


@resurrexit "And the Catholic Church now treats this exactly like wider society treats alcoholism and drunk-driving: no tolerance for it whatsoever. One and done."

Please link to a news site carrying information about the Church a) turning over new rapists to the police, and b) digging through its records to find evidence of rapists moved to new areas and turning those rapists over to the police.

Please also link to a new site with an article about the Church kicking out and publicly chastising high ranking priests who participated in the earlier coverups. Like, for example, the current Pope who was instrumental in the earlier coverups, I note that he's still in power.

I'm not saying you aren't being honest, but I am saying I've seen no evidence whatsoever to indicate that the Church has changed its approach.
posted by sotonohito at 12:52 PM on August 19, 2011


I would point to recent findings in Ireland, sotonohito, that prove they've done exactly nothing to change their approach.
posted by spicynuts at 12:57 PM on August 19, 2011


Just to clarify:

I would point to recent findings in Ireland, sotonohito, that prove they've done exactly nothing to change their approach.

Are you referring to recent findings about things that happened in the past or are currently happening? Asking only because I'm not familiar.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:59 PM on August 19, 2011


Currently happening. There is a MeFi post about it. After agreeing to change their ways, the Bishop and the Vatican are still actively hiding recently accused priests or failing to report allegations or findings.
posted by spicynuts at 1:01 PM on August 19, 2011


Link? I'd like to read it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:02 PM on August 19, 2011


Here ya go
posted by spicynuts at 1:03 PM on August 19, 2011


Late to the game, but:
it sounds to me like you're saying that the Catholic Church and/or the hierarchy of the Catholic Church are "actively fostering" child rape. That sounds offensive, perhaps you can clarify?
I didn't make that statement, but I'll get behind it: in Ireland, yes, without a doubt there was coordinated action by the church# to maximize the number of children they could rape while minimizing the consequences for their own selves.

The church used its moral authority to prevent legal consequences from being incurred. It actively used that same authority to brainwash children into believing that rape is ok, that one shouldn't kick up a fuss about it. It was astoundingly, almost unbelievably, evil in its ability to make child rape an accepted social practice. Endemic. Ugh.

So, yes, the Irish Roman Catholic Church did, in my opinion, "actively foster" child rape. Did they ever.

#hierarchy, organization, clergy, whatever; it's unimportant to me, and includes those people the church pressured (blackmailed) into cooperation.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:06 PM on August 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


This one comes to mind.

There's a St. Louis case that's gotten headlines, where one Shawn Ratigan was turned over by the diocese. I'm sure there are several others. It's not the '80s anymore.

Like, for example, the current Pope who was instrumental in the earlier coverups, I note that he's still in power.

Instrumental, eh? You ask me to provide evidence to contradict a statement for which you've provided no evidence. And what would you have beyond a Laurie Goodstein hit-piece? You're going to be convinced by whatever you want to be convinced by. I've got my circumstantial evidence, you've got yours. You've got your axe to grind, I guess I have mine.
posted by resurrexit at 1:22 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The church used its moral authority to prevent legal consequences from being incurred. It actively used that same authority to brainwash children into believing that rape is ok, that one shouldn't kick up a fuss about it. It was astoundingly, almost unbelievably, evil in its ability to make child rape an accepted social practice.

I'm actually reading the Cloyne Report as we speak. I will admit that my opinion of how the church hierarchy is handling things is changing -- but even so, I REALLY need to see what proof you have of THIS claim, because I'm not seeing it in the PDF that's up on the screen in front of me right now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:24 PM on August 19, 2011


Or -- and again, this is based on the Cloyne report I'm reading that was on spicynuts' link -- if you are accusing the Irish Catholic Church of "deliberately" fostering child rape, then why are you not also accusing the Irish Gardai? Because it also names a few instances of the Gardai dropping the ball in handling complaints as well, in this same report.

Again, I'm not disputing that bad shit went down. I'm just trying to ascertain your backup for the claim that the church was DELIBERATELY WANTED that bad shit TO happen.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:31 PM on August 19, 2011


I think that FFF might be refering to the Ryan Comission when he writes that,

"The church used its moral authority to prevent legal consequences from being incurred. It actively used that same authority to brainwash children into believing that rape is ok, that one shouldn't kick up a fuss about it. It was astoundingly, almost unbelievably, evil in its ability to make child rape an accepted social practice."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commission_to_Inquire_into_Child_Abuse
posted by feste at 1:39 PM on August 19, 2011


*checks that link*

According to that, the Ryan Commission covered activity dating back to before Ireland was a Free State, and it appears that the bulk of the abuse he may be talking about took place in the early-to-mid 20th Century. So I'm afraid I'm not able to ascertain how it can be submitted as evidence that the 21st Century Irish church is INTENTIONALLY promoting child rape, as it covers two different time periods.

And once again -- I'm not denying the truth of the Ryan Commission, nor am I justifying what happened. I think it is abhorrent. But I also think the report isn't supporting the argument Five Fresh Fish is making.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:47 PM on August 19, 2011


@EmpressCallipygos I want to say that I can understand your position WRT using language that is effective in producing change vs. language that isn't.

I think my problem is that I'm not at all convinced that the people in positions of power in the Church are even slightly interested in change regardless of how the complaints and criticisms are phrased. You see the possibility for improvement, I don't. In fact I'm inclined to the position that overall the Church seems to be regressing rather than progressing, retrenching rather than looking for ways (regardless of how slow) of moving forward.

Ratzinger reinstated an antisemitic prayer and re-communicated antisemite and Holocaust denying bishops. While not directly related to the topic at hand it seems like evidence of a general move backwards to me.

I hope you are right and that the Church can be changed, but I'm quite doubtful. Still, you are no doubt more productive than I on that issue.
posted by sotonohito at 1:52 PM on August 19, 2011


Ratzinger reinstated an antisemitic prayer and re-communicated antisemite and Holocaust denying bishops. While not directly related to the topic at hand it seems like evidence of a general move backwards to me.

Are you saying that the Pope is an anti-semite?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:07 PM on August 19, 2011


Ratzinger reinstated an antisemitic prayer

Actually, what he did was replace a prayer (the 1962 Good Friday intercession for the Jews) that some were concerned was anti-semitic with a different prayer of his own composition.

and re-communicated antisemite and Holocaust denying bishops.

The "bishops" in question is actually one bishop, not "bishops". Bishop Williamson was excommunicated as part of a group and so his excommunication was lifted as part of the same group. All the members of the group remain suspended (forbidden to act as Catholic bishops). The whole point of the amnesty was to try to encourage their group's reintegration into the Church, which would, among other things, have the much desired effect of tamping down their more extreme opinions. To reexcommunicate Williamson would make little sense in that context.
posted by Jahaza at 2:09 PM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks, sotonohito.

In fact I'm inclined to the position that overall the Church seems to be regressing rather than progressing, retrenching rather than looking for ways (regardless of how slow) of moving forward. Ratzinger reinstated an antisemitic prayer and re-communicated antisemite and Holocaust denying bishops. While not directly related to the topic at hand it seems like evidence of a general move backwards to me.

Yeah, a lot of people weren't happy with that either. I think the difference is that I'm seeing that happening in a different context than I suspect you're seeing it; it strikes me that you see it as something wholly within the church, independent of everything else in the world around it. Which is not totally off the wall -- the Church is a mighty big organization.

But it's not totally cut off from the world to the point that it can't be influened by the world Without altogether, and it's big enough that it has a lot of foment going on Within as well. There are those who would say this particular country is also regressing and retrenching itself, and that other countries are doing the same; maybe this is a sign that the Church itself is one of many other institutions that are swinging to the right.

And within the church, I'm seeing that as well; Pope Benedit and Pope John Paul II were both active in the Vatican II conferences, but each was on a different side of those conferences. Pope Benedict was on the conservative side (as is probably no surprise to you). And Vatican II was a major, major change in the church's SOP about a lot of things, and every one of those changes took a big, big argument. The conservative elements within the church were so upset about the changes wrought by Vatican II that lots of them just broke away from the church altogether and followed their own uber-traditional path (think like the church that Mel Gibson's father built in his backyard -- check out stories about that sometime). Some of them stayed, though, and were further annoyed by some of the policies instituted by Pope JP II.

And so I'm seeing a lot of the current church's tone -- from electing Ratzinger as Pope, to the policies that have been implemented -- as the pendulum swinging back from Vatican II into the conservative side for a bit. Part of that may have been intentional -- some have theorized that Ratzinger may have been elected in part because he had spoken for the more traditional views during Vatican II, and thus may be able to help heal the rift that had been there since 1963 -- and part of that may be just human nature. I mean, hell, we're swinging to the right as well, and I'm not so sure that some of our rightward swing may be a reaction to the big swing left that came during the 1960's and 1970's. The pendulum swang WAY left during the 1960's, both in the church and in the world at large. And pendulums sometimes need to swing back a bit before they find equilibrium.

But they do tend to swing back left if they swing too far right, and they do find equilibrium.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:12 PM on August 19, 2011


If you love someone who is an alcoholic, you don't celebrate their joining AA by getting them a job at a liquor store.
posted by No1UKnow at 2:20 PM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


And within the church, I'm seeing that as well; Pope Benedit and Pope John Paul II were both active in the Vatican II conferences, but each was on a different side of those conferences. Pope Benedict was on the conservative side (as is probably no surprise to you).

It's debated whether or not Ratizinger was a liberal at Vatican II, but I don't think I've ever seen it suggested that he was a conservative. Ratzinger was a peritus (theological consultant) for Cardinal Frings of Cologne, who had a famous debate with the conservative leader Cardinal Ottaviani. He was grouped in most people's minds at the time of the Council with figures like Edward Schillebeeckx and Hans Küng. It was later that he seems to become markedly conservative (as viewed from a Church context) after the protests of 1968 (which he discusses in his autobiographical book Milestones and breaks with Schillebeeckx, Küng, and the other theologians grouped around the journal Concilium to found the competing Communio.
posted by Jahaza at 2:28 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


He was grouped

"He" here refers to Ratzinger, not Frings.
posted by Jahaza at 2:29 PM on August 19, 2011


@resurrexit The linked article simply says that the priests were suspended, nothing about turning them and evidence over to the real authorities.

As for Ratigan, he was protected by Bishop Robert Finn who suppressed reports on Ratigan's behavior and transferred him to a new parish. An exact repeat of the past behavior of the Church.

As for Ratzinger, there's the de delictis gravioribus, which ordered secrecy and forbade alerting the real authorities, and there's the Fr. Murphy case where Ratzinger was told of the actions of Murphy and didn't alert the real authorities.

I think there's enough evidence that he was involved in the cover ups that it was an extremely bad idea for the Church to appoint him as Pope, and that they'd be wise to get rid of him. I'd like to see a full scale investigation into his role as part of a general truth and reconciliation effort, something else the Church has actively opposed.

@Jahaza How many Holocaust denying bishops need to be reinstated in order for you to think it's a bad idea? I think the number is one, you obviously disagree.

As for the prayer, you've misrepresented the timeline. His first step was to re-authorize a prayer in it's original, very nasty, form. Only after that resulted in predictable outrcy from the Jewish community did Ratzinger make changes.

Again, it seems to me evidence that Ratzinger is looking to move the Church backward.
posted by sotonohito at 2:29 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


How many Holocaust denying bishops need to be reinstated in order for you to think it's a bad idea? I think the number is one, you obviously disagree.

Again, he hasn't been reinstated.

His first step was to re-authorize a prayer in it's original, very nasty, form. Only after that resulted in predictable outrcy from the Jewish community did Ratzinger make changes.

No, his first step was to declare that the prayer as it was being used in 1962 had never been deauthorized (my emphasis): "It is, therefore, permissible to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass following the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated, as an extraordinary form of the Liturgy of the Church."

The 1962 version is not the "original form" (it was changed in 1959 and 1955 as well). It's not clear to me that any of the versions is "very nasty" (understanding "perfidious" to mean "unbelieving" and not "treacherous"). It's not a shocker that Christians believe Jews hold erroneous religious opinions.
posted by Jahaza at 2:44 PM on August 19, 2011


@Jahaza How many Holocaust denying bishops need to be reinstated in order for you to think it's a bad idea? I think the number is one, you obviously disagree.

The Times: The Vatican said: “Bishop Williamson, in order to be admitted to episcopal functions within the Church, will have to take his distance, in an absolutely unequivocal and public fashion, from his position on the Shoah, which the Holy Father was not aware of when the excommunication was lifted.”

He is still suspended. Regardless, revoking an excommunication is not a sign of endorsement of any of the problematic behavior. I mean, this thread is about revoking excommunication for abortion and I don't think anyone is arguing that means Catholics are going soft on the issue.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:07 PM on August 19, 2011


@Jahaza: "Again, he hasn't been reinstated. "

He isn't excommunicated anymore. He and his whole poisonous group were welcomed back into full communion. Doesn't look very good. You can split hairs and argue that it's really ok because of X, Y and Z, but from the outside it looks like Ratzinger welcomed a bunch of neo-Nazis back into the Church. Maybe there's nuance there, but the nuance isn't what I'd call really immediately apparent and it doesn't look good for the Church.

You'd think a guy like Ratzinger, a guy so obsessed with keeping up good appearances that he was willing to turn a blind eye (at the very least) to coverups of rapists in the priesthood, would be more concerned with the appearances involved in recommunicating that group. But apparently not.

As far as the prayer and whatnot, one could ask why the Church, given its both long and relatively recent history of extreme nastiness towards the Jews would have a prayer that references the Jews in any way, shape, or form. Couldn't they just leave well enough alone? Maybe just not poke at the Jews, regardless of how nicely and politely, in their prayers at all?

Just as I think it would be a very good idea for the Church to abstain from participating in youth events for a few decades, due to the recent revelations of a long history of child abuse, I think it'd be a good idea for the Church to just not talk about Jews for a century or two. Let the bad memories fade with time before they start poking at them again.

Just to avoid the appearance of impropriety, no?
posted by sotonohito at 3:09 PM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sotonohito, it really seems like your issues with the church are more personal than what you're talking about and you're dredging up stuff to justify whatever your feelings are about it. In any case, you're kind of poisoning the thread.
posted by empath at 3:29 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nah, this thread is well and truly derailed -- as usually happens -- but this time it seems to be reaching a fairly okay place as far as the conversation is going.

And these are issues that are being debated INSIDE the church as well, I'm sure, so why not here? Everyone's seeming to be starting to get along a little better (hell, I actually agreed with VikingSword about something upthread, and I'm sure he'd also agree that that wasn't bloody likely in other threads).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:26 PM on August 19, 2011


And besides -- I'm sure the people defending the church are speaking from a personal place as well, so hey.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:27 PM on August 19, 2011


The practice of child rape does not become endemic without purposeful collusion. In my opinion the Irish branch of the RCC was undoubtedly conspiring to perpetrate child abuse. At the rates seen there, for as long into modern times as they've managed to continue it, takes an effort of will. I can not see any other way of interpreting what has taken place in Ireland, other than outright denialism.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:10 PM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am saying I've seen no evidence whatsoever to indicate that the Church has changed its approach.

They haven't. From an article published in the NY Times, four days ago, describing crimes that took place within the last year (which were covered up by the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph):

But a painfully fresh case is devastating Catholics in Kansas City, Mo., where a priest, who was arrested in May, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of taking indecent photographs of young girls, most recently during an Easter egg hunt just four months ago.

Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has acknowledged that he knew of the existence of photographs last December but did not turn them over to the police until May.

....


In May 2010, the principal of a Catholic elementary school where Father Ratigan worked hand-delivered a letter to the vicar general reporting specific episodes that had raised alarms: the priest put a girl on his lap during a bus ride and allowed children to reach into his pants pockets for candy. When a Brownie troop visited Father Ratigan’s house, a parent reported finding a pair of girl’s panties in a planter, the letter said.

Bishop Finn said at a news conference that he was given a “brief verbal summary” of the letter at the time, but did not read it until a year later.

In December, a computer technician discovered the photographs on Father Ratigan’s laptop and turned it in to the diocese. The next day, the priest was discovered in his closed garage, his motorcycle running, along with a suicide note apologizing to the children, their families and the church.

Father Ratigan survived, was taken to a hospital and was then sent to live at a convent in the diocese, where, the lawsuit and the indictment say, he continued to have contact with children.

Parents in the school and parishioners were told only that Father Ratigan had fallen sick from carbon monoxide poisoning. They were stunned when he was arrested in May.

“My daughter made cards for him,” said one parent who did not want her name used because the police said her daughter might have been a victim. “We prayed for him every single night at dinner. It was just lying to us and a complete cover-up.”


I've a printed out a copy just so I can give it to my Catholic relatives who insist that the Church has changed its approach and is complying with the law regarding child rape and abuse by its clergy.
posted by longdaysjourney at 5:53 PM on August 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


In my opinion the Irish branch of the RCC was undoubtedly conspiring to perpetrate child abuse. At the rates seen there, for as long into modern times as they've managed to continue it, takes an effort of will.

"In your opinion." I see.

I can not see any other way of interpreting what has taken place in Ireland, other than outright denialism.

Denialism, when compounded with ignorance (in a world which for several hundred years was unwilling to talk about this issue at all), is very plausible. I mean, child abuse is awfully prevelant in this country as well, and has been for a number of years before this was an issue in the public consciousness. Does that mean we also can blame the American people for conspiring to perpetrate child abuse since the days of Plymouth Rock?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:12 PM on August 19, 2011


And to explain my perspective, five fresh fish -- the allegations the findings revealed, that child abuse was happening unchecked, are heinous enough, don't you think?

Why try to embellish the accounts with accusations about things that simply aren't there? Do you think the abuse that actually happened wasn't bad enough or something?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:14 PM on August 19, 2011


I believe longdaysjourney provides proof that it's happening in the US. It was 100x worse in Ireland.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:03 PM on August 19, 2011


I love how things here have gone from attack and defense of some of the church's ludicrous core beliefs to attack and defense of its collusion in (or at least suppression of publicity of) rape and child abuse.

Makes me think of a trial where an accused thief ends up being prosecuted for murder; the perpetrator's less heinous transgressions kind of get forgotten about.

Serial child rape is not "explicitly allow[ed]" by the Catholic Church.

Well, that's alright then.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:53 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love how things here have gone from attack and defense of some of the church's ludicrous core beliefs to attack and defense of its collusion in (or at least suppression of publicity of) rape and child abuse.

Ahh yes, it's great how this is like every thread ever where the word Catholic is mentioned.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:06 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't you know that my love is ironic?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:09 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


OR IS IT
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:18 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love how things here have gone from attack and defense of some of the church's ludicrous core beliefs

While I can appreciate a communal desire to not have mockery of religious ideas (underwear, transubstantiation, lopping, etc), it's a short walk from there to not mocking homeopathic medicine (hold your breath, I'll tell you the punchline in a second); and from there to not mocking the creationist museum, an cultural artifact of our society's failure to educate its people.

So mocking RC ideas of miracles and transubstantiation and whatnot? Let's not go overboard. We can consider it Mostly Harmless and be cool.

to attack and defense of its collusion in (or at least suppression of publicity of) rape and child abuse.

Which is a whole other kettle of fish. What has happened in Ireland is horrific. There are comparisons I could make that would, god, win the thread—but I shan't; it's a rhetoric too far.

To say that a good chunk of the hierarchy has aided and abetted the rape of children by the people those children are to respect, trust, and follow?

That is not rhetoric, it is fact.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:31 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm out. If the topic of the Roman Catholic Church is one that MeFi cares to have on the front page, I had just better pass by. The child abuse is front-and-center, IMO, but it's angry-making.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:44 PM on August 19, 2011


I don't understand what you mean exactly, but for my part, I'll say I am in favour of both mocking and challenging the religious and their beliefs (when appropriate) and prosecuting criminal behaviour inside churches or out (always).

But covered-up child-fucking is certainly a different kind of thing than believing some well-intentioned rabbi came back from the dead a couple of thousand years ago.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:58 PM on August 19, 2011


But could Mary have aborted Jesus, had she wanted to?

Technically yes, but science says that god would have just popped one straight back in there.
posted by the noob at 9:06 PM on August 19, 2011


SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY!!!!

THERE'S NEVERBEENABETTERTIMETO CONFESSSSSS!!!!

termsandconditionsapplyseegodfordetailsresultsmayvaryifeternalrewardlastslessthaneternityseejesusimmediatelyoffernotvalidifitwasagayabortionbecauseimeancomeonreallywe'rejustnotokaywiththatforsomereason
posted by lazaruslong at 9:08 PM on August 19, 2011


I believe longdaysjourney provides proof that it's happening in the US.

I'm not talking about the United States CHURCH. I'm talking about the United States the COUNTRY.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:24 PM on August 19, 2011


With respect to whether or not certain prayers are anti-semitic, here's my fun experience:

I was raised jewish, so was made keenly aware of past anti-semitism in christian churches. And was happy to see moves made in christian churches to recognize (and remove) their anti-semitic strains.

But, like many jews, I started to think about what I'd actually been taught, and eventually decided that jewish beliefs really weren't what I felt in my heart. Further exploring has lead me to call myself a Gaian. So when I was flipping channels a few Christmases ago, (waiting for the Chinese restaurant to open), I came across the Pope's Christmas message. (They play it on one of the networks here in Boston.) He was decrying the horrible influence of Paganism! Oh no, not again!

I know it may seem like I'm being perverse, but honestly, I'm not moving my religio-philosophical position to where the Pope's going to aim next. In fact, I wish he'd just put the gun down.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:27 PM on August 19, 2011


sotonohito: The Society of Saint Pius X has not been welcomed back into full communion. In 2009, when the Pope lifted the excommunications of the four SSPX bishops illicitly ordained in 1988, the Pope reaffirmed that the SSPX has no canonical status in the Church.

You ask why the Good Friday Prayer for the Jews exists. This prayer is offered during the Good Friday Liturgy as part of a series of intercessory prayers whose intentions start with the Church and expand out into the wider world. For example, in the Post-Vatican II Mass that prayer is sixth in a series of 10 prayers: for the Church, for the Pope, for the Clergy and Laity of the Church, for those preparing for Baptism, for the unity of Christians, for the Jewish People, for those who do not believe in Christ, for those who do not believe in God, for all in public office and for those in special need]. I don't have a copy of the 1962 Missal handy, so I am unsure how many prayers are mandated for the Good Friday Intercessions.
posted by Ranucci at 9:30 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


To say that a good chunk of the hierarchy has aided and abetted the rape of children by the people those children are to respect, trust, and follow? That is not rhetoric, it is fact.

Yes, it is. And no one is saying it isn't.

The ONLY thing i'm questioning is, why you are going on to add that they INTENDED TO DO THAT from the start, rather than being totally fucked-up by preferring to handle it in-house even though they didn't know how to. Because there's a hell of a lot more evidence that that's the case, and if people confront the REAL problem rather than embellishing it into something it ISN'T, we have a chance of STOPPING it.

It's like, if there were tigers trying to attack us, you didn't just say "there's tigers out there trying to attack us," you said "there's tigers trying to attack us and they have lasers shooting out of their eyes". No one's saying there aren't any tigers, we're just wondering why the hell you're adding in stuff about them having laser eyes.

If you tell people about the tigers, they'll have a better chance of effectively stopping them. Adding the laser-eye stuff, because that's just going to confuse people and make them not trust what you're saying and then we'll all get eaten by tigers.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:33 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The ONLY thing i'm questioning is, why you are going on to add that they INTENDED TO DO THAT from the start

Because some folks just really hate tigers, whether the tigers are attacking or not. They hate them so much that when some small percentage of tigers starts eating people, the tiger-haters are unable to assess the danger accurately and resort to hyperbole, conspiracy theories and sweeping generalizations – with the idea that this sort of thing somehow strengthens their message.

The tactic *is* fairly effective: whenever the rare observer tries to point out that there are no lasers – as you have – he can usually expect then to be accused of blindly defending tigers, or not caring sufficiently for the people they've eaten...
posted by Cortes at 10:34 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because some folks just really hate tigers, whether the tigers are attacking or not. They hate them so much that when some small percentage of tigers starts eating people, the tiger-haters are unable to assess the danger accurately and resort to hyperbole, conspiracy theories and sweeping generalizations – with the idea that this sort of thing somehow strengthens their message.

And if Petsmart was selling those tigers as pets, and when the tigers ate people, they just had them bring them back to the store, and they'd resell them in the next town over?

I don't really think we need metaphors here when the facts speak for themselves.
posted by empath at 11:24 PM on August 19, 2011


So I was raving about mefi (as I sometimes do) to a Catholic friend not four hours ago, urging her to check it out when she got home, and now I feel like a consummate ass. There's no way I'll have the cojones to ask her whether she visited on Monday.

Man, this totally ruined my night. I'm sure even the most virulent religion haters around here can think of a few Christians on metafilter whose posts you value and admire, there are some really great ones. It is a virtual certainty that threads like this have driven away many more such commentators who don't want to deal with your shit. Which honestly I can't imagine even you feel adds any value to the site. For damn sure I wouldn't stick around, I'm amazed any christians do.

Fuck. I should have gone to bed instead of checking metafilter.
posted by pseudonick at 1:01 AM on August 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I know, right? And think of all the child abusers who've been driven away from the site because of this thread, too!

That's a joke. I think the child abusers are staying right where they are.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:48 AM on August 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


...being totally fucked-up by preferring to handle it in-house even though they didn't know how to. Because there's a hell of a lot more evidence that that's the case...

Can you point me to any of the evidence that preferring to handle these cases in-house is the reason for the cover-ups? I know it's the reason they often give, but when it happens in so many diosceses in so many nations, it seems like a weak explanation to me. And I'm not inclined to give their explanations the benefit of the doubt, I'd like to see some hard evidence. A document outlining the reasons why they think moving a priest to a new location but still allowing access to children (or, as in the Ratigan case above, not even bothering to investigate accusations from school principals) gives better results for the victim or the criminal than sending them to the police, for example. Or something like that.

When so many people are involved in a cover-up, it makes me think they must be morally bankrupt or mentally disabled even if they haven't personally raped any children. There wasn't one bishop in Ireland who felt that in-house discipline wasn't working as well as they'd all hoped? Not one priest who suggested a new policy after Father Whatsisface offended the second or third time?

I can *nearly* understand forming the policy in the first place. But after decades of public outcry, thousands of impact statements from victims (the ones who didn't commit suicide before they could bring anyone to believe them), countless numbers of re-offending rapist priests... what reason could there possibly be to persist with this policy apart from thinking that raping children isn't all that bad, or at least not as bad as negative publicity?
posted by harriet vane at 5:24 AM on August 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


So at the end of this thread I'm led to believe that god was rallying around Spain in the popemobile, absolutely wasted, when he was pulled over by a member of the Garda, who recognized him and told him to go home instead of taking him in on DUI. But instead god decided to go rape the child-bride of one of his parishioners, and then left her to pick up the pieces of her shattered life by prohibiting her from getting an abortion. And centuries pass where it apparently becomes a institutional rite to wave one's st peter at children, secure in the knowledge that god's original sin, and the church hierarchy, will protect one. And woven through these centuries are apparently limitless tales of RC perfidy, in killing Jews, heretics, women, South Americans, Caribbeans, Muslims and pretty much anyone that refuse to see that eating a Ritz cracker makes you good folk in god's eyes. And then to try and give one side of the church a black eye and the another side of the church a stiffy, god has said that, For A Limited Time (And Location) Only®, it's cool, some of you can get your all-you-can-eat Fishstick Fridays® back. And something about tigers with laser eyeballs. Did I miss anything?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 5:51 AM on August 20, 2011


I don't really think we need metaphors here when the facts speak for themselves.

That's....my point, actually.

There wasn't one bishop in Ireland who felt that in-house discipline wasn't working as well as they'd all hoped? Not one priest who suggested a new policy after Father Whatsisface offended the second or third time?

For the record, the Cloyne report (in the post that spicynuts linked to above) talks only about one particular bishop in one area who was fucking up badly; he felt that the church should take care of things in-house, he kept really half-assed records of abuse complaints, and he thought just removing a guy from a parish and giving him a good talking-to would fix things. He felt that way even after having been expressly told that "this is the way we handle abuse cases now" and having someone point-blank ask him if he understood what he had to do and he said yes. After a few years of this, another priest checked up on his parish, saw what was going on and flipped right the hell out and recalled HIM.

What it was that happened in other parishes, I don't know; the report focused only one place. But in that one place, someone did finally stand up and say "what the FRACK? Cut that out!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:02 AM on August 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Currently happening. There is a MeFi post about it. After agreeing to change their ways, the Bishop and the Vatican are still actively hiding recently accused priests or failing to report allegations or findings."

And of course that FPP, like this one and in fact most Metafilter threads related to Catholicism, is not factually accurate.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:24 AM on August 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not one priest who suggested a new policy after Father Whatsisface offended the second or third time?

Harriet, for many years, secrecy was Vatican-decreed policy.
Bishops are instructed to pursue these cases 'in the most secretive way... restrained by a perpetual silence... and everyone... is to observe the strictest secret which is commonly regarded as a secret of the Holy Office... under the penalty of excommunication'.
. . .
Lawyers point to a letter the Vatican sent to bishops in May 2001 clearly stating the [above] 1962 instruction was in force until then. The letter is signed by Cardinal Ratzinger, the most powerful man in Rome beside the Pope and who heads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith...
Has this policy been changed? Events in Ireland and elsewhere seem to indicate it hasn't.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:53 AM on August 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


The 1962 instruction is specifically addressing the ecclesiastical crime of solicitation – which by definition occurs within the sacrament of confession, thus the discussion throughout of "secrecy."

Nowhere does it prohibit reporting civil crimes to the authorities. It's a canon law document concerned with internal discipline as it relates to a particular abuse of confession, as well as the responsibility of the person solicited to report the offense immediately. (Those who are solicited and "knowingly have disregarded the obligation to denounce" are at risk of excommunication themselves.") Despite CBS's valiant attempt 8 years ago to pass the document off as a smoking gun, it's not evidence of a coverup and in fact has very little to do with the abuse of minors at all.
posted by Cortes at 1:15 PM on August 20, 2011


Y'know, Cortes, it's possible that while the 1962 instruction may have referred to something specific, some individual priests/bishops/cardinals may have interpreted it themselves to have a more general meaning. Not a "smoking gun," no, but could be an unintended influence in some -- possibly several -- instances.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:26 PM on August 20, 2011


Well, sure. People misinterpret things. But ultimately you have to look at what the source document actually says. I was responding to Kirth's claim that the 1962 instruction was evidence of a "Vatican-decreed policy of secrecy" re: child abuse.
posted by Cortes at 1:50 PM on August 20, 2011


The 1962 instruction is specifically addressing the ecclesiastical crime of solicitation – which by definition occurs within the sacrament of confession, thus the discussion throughout of "secrecy."

Opinions vary:
The document, which has been confirmed as genuine by the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, is called 'Crimine solicitationies', which translates as 'instruction on proceeding in cases of solicitation'.

It focuses on sexual abuse initiated as part of the confessional relationship between a priest and a member of his congregation. But the instructions also cover what it calls the 'worst crime', described as an obscene act perpetrated by a cleric with 'youths of either sex or with brute animals (bestiality)'.
. . .
Rev Thomas Doyle, a US Air Force chaplain in Germany and a specialist in Church law, has studied the document. He told The Observer: 'It is certainly an indication of the pathological obsession with secrecy in the Catholic Church, but in itself it is not a smoking gun.

'If, however, this document actually has been the foundation of a continuous policy to cover clergy crimes at all costs, then we have quite another issue. There are too many authenticated reports of victims having been seriously intimidated into silence by Church authorities to assert that such intimidation is the exception and not the norm.
Nowhere does it prohibit reporting civil crimes to the authorities.

Except for the part about "observe the strictest secret," and the excommunication.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:01 PM on August 20, 2011


@empath: "Sotonohito, it really seems like your issues with the church are more personal than what you're talking about and you're dredging up stuff to justify whatever your feelings are about it. In any case, you're kind of poisoning the thread."

Actually I've got nothing personal involved here. I was not raised Catholic, I never attended Catholic school, I've never been abused or even snubbed by Catholics, and those Catholics I know personally are generally perfectly nice people.

I think partially my insistance that the Church needs to fix itself comes from the fact that, unlike Islam of Southern Baptism, there is a hierarchy in place and it *COULD** fix itself if only the hierarchy weren't so utterly devoted to being evil.

With Islam and it's problems I'm less intense because there is no such thing as an Islamic hierarchy, no person in power can say "ok you guys knock that crap off" and be obeyed. Same with Southern Baptism etc.

But the Pope could fix things. He could order his underlings to stop lying about condoms spreading AIDS and relieve them of their posts if they didn't obey. He is, after all, the Vicar of Christ on Earth, for the Church he's the decider, he speaks, they obey. But he, and the whole hierarchy seem fine with archbishops taking action that objectively causes an increase in death and misery in the world.

Ratzinger, if he thought it was really a big deal, could order the Church to turn over all known rapists to the authorities. But he doesn't.

Neither of those would even require a change in Church policy. I'm not asking that the Church stop saying that contraception is evil. I'd like it, but I'm not insisting that it must before I stop saying that the Church is doing evil. But it should not be too much to ask that the Church stop lying about condoms even if it doesn't like condoms. Similarly it should not be too much to ask that the Church go over it's records, find instances of priests transferred for rape, and turn those priests over to the police. It should not be too much to ask that the Church adopt a new policy of stripping any member of the hierarchy of their position and authority of that person is found to have covered up for rapists.

I'd go so far as to say that those actions are the absolute, rock bottom, minimum that anyone should expect the Church to take before they stop describing the Church as encouraging and participating in evil.

I'm not seeing how that position is poisonous.

My first comment in this thread was a reply to Jahaza demanding more politeness from a woman offering a polite objection, not as Jahaza said to his religion, but to the policies and leadership of the Church. As is SOP in threads like this, criticism of the hierarchy is willfully misinterpreted to be criticism of the religion by the defenders of the hierarchy.

I asked, and I still ask, why I should be polite to the Church (not, I hasten to point out to individual Catholics, but to the institution) when it continues to do active evil?

@Cortes: Given the history of coverups by the Church, why should we assume the best about the intent and motives of the 1962 letter and its later follow ups by then Cardinal Ratzinger?

We know the Church was turning a blind eye, at absolute best, to a deep problem. Why should I give it the benefit of the doubt and assume, as you ask us to, that the Church had good intentions? Why shouldn't I assume the Church had anything but the intent of keeping abuse secret in an effort to preserve it's position, appearance, etc.

You've got to admit that a letter instructing the clergy to always keep sexual crimes secret looks pretty damning.
posted by sotonohito at 2:05 PM on August 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


from a woman offering a polite objection,

She attributed, without evidence, this opinion to the Catholic hierarchy:
Women having sex whenever they want to with whomever they choose? Those sluts should have to live with the consequences of their actions. And those consequences should be dire. Eternal, even.
That is not a polite objection.
posted by Jahaza at 5:29 PM on August 20, 2011


Not polite jahaza, but I think most people would interpret that as "an overexaggeration of the policy prompted by anger" rather than "trying to spread an untruth." Not pretty, but not a hill I'd personally want to die on.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:01 PM on August 20, 2011


Sure, but I didn't say it was "trying to spread an untruth", I just called it impolite.
posted by Jahaza at 6:11 PM on August 20, 2011


I just meant there are bigger statements to complain about than whether something's polite.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:35 PM on August 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


"You've got to admit that a letter instructing the clergy to always keep sexual crimes secret looks pretty damning."

sotonohito, you don't mean this letter do you? Because you were totally there when it was demonstrated that that letter instructed nothing of the sort, despite the aggressively dishonest framing of the FPP.

The letter was a response to this document (PDF) produced by an advisory committee created by the Irish bishops conference produced to address the massive scandal that rocked the nation at the time in 1996. In the framework the report puts forward however, according to established precedent, where it may conflict with Cannon Law, the Cannon law would supersede. Thus if a cleric were to suffer reprimand under this procedure they would be able to successfully appeal to Rome which would, for very good reasons, be "highly embarassing and detrimental." Hell yeah it would, if the Vatican were forced to overturn a local ecclesiastical conviction because it wasn't legal we'd be all over that shit, and rightfully so. It goes on to state the Catholic Church's longstanding opposition to mandatory reporting as, without caveats for confession (like in most US States), it conflicts with core Catholic tradition. Then it promises a more global policy shift that would in fact have the force of Cannon law, fulfilled a few years later.

You'll notice this is not anything to do with either civil or criminal law, just the ecclesiastical sanctions on child rapists and whether they were currently enforceable WITHIN THE CHURCH, much less "...a letter instructing the clergy to always keep sexual crimes secret."

But then you already knew that, because you were there in that thread too, trying to convince Jahaza that ze is Bill Donahue, and presumably reading along.
posted by Blasdelb at 6:54 PM on August 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


LOLCatholics makes me tired.
posted by _paegan_ at 3:01 AM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


No-one who is angry about the rape of children and how the Church is shielding the rapists is LOL-ing here. Emotions are high, but amusement isn't one of those emotions. Perhaps something was deleted that I didn't see, but what's currently in the thread is a lot closer to GRAR than LOL.

And I withdraw my usual default politeness from people who rape children, and those who condone it by not turning rapists over to the police. I'm not polite about bishops using their own sacraments as a way of pissing off local politicians or competing factions, or celibate (supposedly) men punishing women for making reproductive decisions then capriciously offering forgiveness on random terms.

My moral standards might not be handed down directly from God, and I'm far from perfect, but I think that when you weigh up my rudeness against their complete disregard for basic human decency, it should be easier to get angry with them than with me.
posted by harriet vane at 7:14 AM on August 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


It was my own immediate LOLCatholics response I was referring to. I DO see a lot of GRAR above; much of it repeating aches I've had about a group that fits the definition of cult I learned in anthropology. I think I default to amusement because I'm helpless to do anything to change an institution that elicits my repugnance and disdain. Having this horror show as a dominant influence in our culture for hundreds of years has been a disservice to humanity (and that's without factoring in child rape). While I'm glad monks kept Europeans literate during The Dark Ages, there's more con to that church than pro. I guess I really meant is that the whole topic fatigues me after years of repeating the same anti-catholic church arguments I read above.

And for those who cheer about what the church has done with charities... Um, no, I don't care - you can't kick me and then give me a lollypop to make it okay. You certainly don't get to kick me and then give me magical promises to be fulfilled after I die to make it okay*.

* This is not Catholic church specific, but rampant within Christianity, to be more concerned with rewards of the afterlife than caring for a person's current life. Don't get me started on Mother Theresa.

Okay, see? I get all up in arms, excited, when I do start in. Now I'm tired again, sublimating my own GRAR.
posted by _paegan_ at 10:36 AM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is not Catholic church specific, but rampant within Christianity, to be more concerned with rewards of the afterlife than caring for a person's current life.

At the risk of sounding like I'm splitting hairs, I think this is a very important distinction for the con-catholics or the con-Christians to make, for the sake of clarity in discussions like this. I've seen a lot of discussions where people talk smack against the Catholics -- for something that someone else did. The most prominent example I can think of now is accusing the Vatican of teaching that evolution is false -- but instead, there've been two statements from the Vatican that "alright, yeah, there's nothing inherantly anti-Catholic about evolution." Accusing the Vatican of being anti-evolution is like claiming it was a CANADIAN military force who killed Osama Bin Laden.*

Of course, in a general-across-Christianity statement like what you mention, that's different. And I hope it didn't sound like I was singling you out -- you just reminded me of something i've seen happen.

* There's a part of me that thinks a Canadian force capturing Osama would have been kind of awesome.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:27 AM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not polite about bishops using their own sacraments as a way of pissing off local politicians or competing factions

Well you'd have to establish that that's actually the case. As I pointed out, offering special faculties to remit excommunications during special religious events (a jubilee in that case, World Youth Day in this case) has lots of history behind it. Pius IX obviously didn't do it to influence the Spanish elections. No actual evidence of that being the motive has been offered.

There's a fairly direct line from spreading unsubstantiated allegations that "The Archbishop of Madrid is using reconciling the excommunicated to influence the Spanish elections" to "That Catholic presidential candidate will be taking orders from the Vatican."
posted by Jahaza at 3:58 PM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't see any such line. Of course, there is the example of Fr. Robert Drinan.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:44 AM on August 22, 2011


My apologies, _paegan_, I didn't quite get where you were coming from. I stand by what I said about politeness but will happily move on from the LOL/GRAR derail I started.

Jahaza, if your best example is from 1875, I think we can assume that it's not really a common practice even though it's an established one. Looking to current events local to the region as an explanation for someone dredging up an old-fashioned practice isn't a huge stretch.

And it's not an unsubstantiated allegation, it's a speculation on the unknown reasons for a known action. The same kind of speculation that's made about why a famous Australian 80s rock star joined a middle-of-the-road political party, or how annoyed the GOP leadership is with the Tea Party right now. Speculation is not the same as accusation; and this is a comment thread for the purposes of conversation, not a court of law.

Finally, there is no line from general speculation to the kind of anti-Catholic bigotry that assumes a garden-variety religiously-inclined person will be so treasonous as to take orders from another nation or state. It's an odd conclusion to jump to, and makes you look a bit desperate to avoid discussing the more substantial criticisms that have been made of the Church.
posted by harriet vane at 6:51 AM on August 22, 2011


The church hierarchy unquestionably tries to influence elections, they got involved, particularly in the 2004 presidential elections.
posted by empath at 6:59 AM on August 22, 2011


The church hierarchy unquestionably tries to influence elections, they got involved, particularly in the 2004 presidential elections.

*puzzled* But....don't many other religious groups do the same? And other secular groups, and other special-interest groups?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:38 AM on August 22, 2011


I'm just pointing out that accusing the Catholic Church of getting involved in politics isn't a slander on Catholics, its a simple statement of fact.
posted by empath at 7:41 AM on August 22, 2011


I'm just pointing out that accusing the Catholic Church of getting involved in politics isn't a slander on Catholics, its a simple statement of fact.

Ah, gotcha.

My hunch is that the "omg slander" reaction you may be getting comes from past incidents where people have meant it thus -- not as "slander," but as something negative. There was a huge to-do when Kennedy was initially running for president because "well, if we have a Catholic president, you just know he's going to make everyone fast on Friday like Catholics do, amirite?" Kind of like how people got the vapors over "omigod Obama's a muslim and that means he's going to make women wear burquas and everything".

A lot of times the people who have pointed out that there are Catholic groups trying to get involved in politics have tended to overlook the fact that so does everyone else, and that it's not like the Catholic church is doing something any more or less nefarious than anyone else. It's like someone saying that they hate Siamese cats because "Siamese cats have WHISKERS!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:50 AM on August 22, 2011


But....don't many other religious groups do the same? And other secular groups, and other special-interest groups?

Empress, I was with you until you went from "other religious groups" to "other special-interest groups". Religion is different. Don't just take my word; ask the folk who wrote our Constitution.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:41 PM on August 22, 2011


benito-- the Separation of Church and State only deals with the government establishing a state religion, or the government expressing a preference for one religion over another. It doesn't have any rules against a given religion trying to endorse particular political views to its followers. Because -- those followers still have the right to say, "yeah, I don't think so" and vote how they want.

In fact, the clause you're pointing to in the Constitution is what supports their rights to do just that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:39 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're right, Empress. I must have swung in here from some Michelle Bachman thread and was thinking about all the people who want to inject religion into our government, not religious people who are active as citizens.

(I might quibble that the the article I linked to gives people of all religions the right to full participation in government, and that it's the good old First Amendment that ensures the right to say "I don't think so", regardless of religion, but it's a minor point.)
posted by benito.strauss at 8:09 PM on August 22, 2011


No, you're right that the First Amendment technically says that an individual can believe as they choose. But you had challenged the assertion that a religious institution's representative speaking out on an election was different from a public interest group, specifically, and I was explaining why it wasn't different.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:17 PM on August 22, 2011


Fair enough.
posted by benito.strauss at 4:01 AM on August 23, 2011


@EmpressCallipygos Actually if the religious group is a 501(c)(3) organization under IRS rules they have, in fact, chosen to severely limit their ability to engage in political speech in exchange for being tax exempt.

Most churches are 501(c)(3) organizations and therefore explicitly do not have the right to engage in politics as freely as other organizations do. Not per the US Constitution, but per their decision to seek a tax exemption. They can choose to incorporate under different rules, pay taxes as corporations, and engage in political activity with less restriction of course.

But for a 501(c)(3) church to say "Please vote for politician X" or whatnot is, in fact, a violation of the tax code and should result in their loss of tax exempt status at the very least.
posted by sotonohito at 9:10 AM on August 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


But for a 501(c)(3) church to say "Please vote for politician X" or whatnot is, in fact, a violation of the tax code and should result in their loss of tax exempt status at the very least.

Sincere question -- can you explain the law and the perameters behind that (if you're aware of it)? I sincerely wasn't aware of that, and my laywoman's eye is honestly not seeing the harm (because -- it's legal for any group to tell people "hey, vote for THIS guy" precisely because they're not forcing a vote).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:37 PM on August 23, 2011


I'm a layperson myself on the topic, but it has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with tax code. ANY 501(c)(3) outfit, regardless of purpose, is under the same restrictions. My local theater troupe is a 501(c)(3) outfit and therefore we can't push politicians either.

Lots of people have the idea that religions are automatically tax exempt, and that's not the case in the USA. They get tax exempt status the same as any organization, religious or non-, gets it.

Unfortunately the IRS doesn't say the rules are as they are, it merely describes the rules. From what I've gathered from various sources the idea is that a 501(c)(3) is a set up for charitable purposes, and is granted an exemption from taxation as a means of encouraging that charitable purpose. Lobbying, and otherwise getting intensely involved in politics is, presumably, not seen as being in line with the idea that the 501(c)(3) is there for charitable reasons.

I should also add that a preacher simply saying "vote against Obama or God will hate you!" is probably not going to be in violation. It takes repeated political activity to trigger a violation, and the IRS is notoriously unwilling to yank tax exempt status from religions even if they are in blatant violation of their 501(c)(3) status (see: the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the fact that despite largely becoming conservative advocacy groups against gay rights they're still tax exempt when they bloody well shouldn't be).
posted by sotonohito at 3:03 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Huh, thank you for that.

I see what you mean about the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints taking action on Prop 8, but I'm not sure what you're thinking of with a similar Catholic action; not doubting you, I'm simply unaware, as I've only personally heard about the "vote for Sid, he's the most responsible choice for a Catholic" kind of statement; that is, I've only heard that from the church itself. The Catholic League, mind, is a different kettle of fish...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:43 PM on August 23, 2011


Various Catholic churches have made significant contributions to anti-gay politics. The LDS got a lot of well deserved flack over Prop 8, but the RCC was also deeply involved in pushing it, they just didn't get as much press.

You may also recall that not too long back the RCC in Washington D.C. was actively lobbying against extending employment benefits to same sex partners.

And during lead up to the vote on same sex marriage in New York the RCC was intensely involved in lobbying against it. Not the Catholic League, but actual Bishops, priests, and other official Church representatives.

Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O' Brien phoned up Maryland's governor specifically to lobby against same sex marriage.

Etc. Perhaps your local diocese isn't much involved in the anti-gay efforts of the Church, but overall we're seeing a huge upswing in the Church getting directly, and financially, involved in anti-gay efforts.
posted by sotonohito at 7:25 AM on August 24, 2011


I'm not actually Catholic personally, so I'm not aware of what my local diocese is doing. Thanks for the update.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:29 AM on August 24, 2011


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