Pope asked Catholics to fast for Ramadan.
December 15, 2001 5:22 AM   Subscribe

Pope asked Catholics to fast for Ramadan. Doesn't the Pope at least see the irony that the ruler of Vatican City, a moralistic theocracy, is trying to spiritually help the victims of another moralistic theocracy?
posted by skallas (39 comments total)
 
I like this idea so much, I hope they make it a permanent, never-ending ritual.
posted by dagny at 7:00 AM on December 15, 2001


Actually, I don't see any irony at all here. I think it is an impressive gesture towards Islam and a call for everyone in the world to consider peace. It is odd to see one theocracy showing respect for another, but considering the religious strife that is going on in the world, I find it highly commendable that the pope is using his moral authority to guide his followers to respect Muslims.
posted by rks404 at 8:24 AM on December 15, 2001


I don't see any irony.
posted by fleener at 8:53 AM on December 15, 2001


Nice one, Skallas.

I see you've made the clever connection of a city with 11 buildings and a thousand or so people, nearly all of whom are employed by the vatican, with all those who practice Islam?

Are all members of Islam victims of a moralistic theocracy? Are you speaking in particular of those under the Taleban? The Taleban took over Afghanistan and oppressed the people under them brutally, whereas the Vatican City is land the Catholic church has owned somewhere in the neighborhood of forever, and just happens to be it's own independent, and altogether benevolent state.

This is a phenominal gesture of good will the Pope is extending, and the best you can do is make irrelevant connections concerning their system of government? Looking at your website, clearly you have some political reasons to dislike what the Pope does, but to offer nothing but cynicism towards something like this, least of all based on so tenuous a connection, seems extremely petty.
posted by mragreeable at 8:56 AM on December 15, 2001


Yeh. I don't see any irony either.

Also, I cant really call Al-Queda and the Catholic church 'theocracies' because they don't really rule countries (well, I guess there is Vatican city but, that's not much)
posted by delmoi at 8:57 AM on December 15, 2001


Catholics simply cannot do a good deed, can they?

The ydo nothing and are lambasted and then they attempt to so something, anything and they are lambasted.

Nice to know that no matter what happens skallas, you will be there to throw barbs.
posted by Dagobert at 9:28 AM on December 15, 2001


Hey! what about the Jews???
posted by Postroad at 9:57 AM on December 15, 2001


I agree the theocracy argument is rather tenuous, and the criticism based on it is needless.

However, there are two elements of this gesture that do provide ripe grounds for legitimate criticism: the Church's approach and deeds concerning ecumanism and peace.

On ecumanism: Many Catholics (and certainly non-Catholics as well) are disappointed with the Church's heavy handed approach to ecumenical dialogue. While the general direction in which the Vatican is moving is positive, many see it as making some rather remarkably egotisitcal and simplistic mistakes along the way.

On Peace: there is a substantial pacifist movement among Catholics (Catholic Worker, Pacx Christi, etc.) and many believe that the Pope could use his Vatican bully pulpit to more agressively promote peace. Contrast Gumbleton and Bevilaqua. Again, this gesture is a movement in the right direction, but considering the power at the disposal of the current Pope, many of the faithful believe the pacifism of Christ's message deserves more action than this.

See you at mass tomorrow...
posted by cleetus at 9:58 AM on December 15, 2001


really, skallas, what were you thinking?... the pope seeing irony? oh, wait, the bear's done in the toilet, gotta go...
posted by victors at 9:59 AM on December 15, 2001


<RANT>
Come on, people. This "gesture" is bullshit. Respect for Islam? Please. The Catholic church has no business being open-hearted. Why start now? The Pope trying to appeal to the masses with this "inter-religious, political, lay and ecumenical" appeal is going against the mythology that he believes. Come on! Islam is just as oppressive and violent a religion as Catholicism, if not more so! We shouldn't be looking for huge religions like this to shake hands and agree to disagree. We should be getting rid of religion, stripping it of its power. Maybe then, when the scales have fallen from the eyes of the faith-impaired, fundamentalists (of all religions) won't kill innocent people.
</RANT>
posted by UrbanFigaro at 10:35 AM on December 15, 2001


Good Lord. This topic is troll flypaper, isn't it?
posted by dhartung at 12:03 PM on December 15, 2001


Catholic church has no business being open-hearted. Why start now? Interreligious rapproachment and dialogue, not to mention the corrolary "cleansing of memory," have been major themes of this Papacy, especially in the last 10 or so years. While JP2 is working against about 1000 years of Christendom vs. World, the Church is not "starting now" as you seem to think.

And here's why "getting rid of religion" is impractical: Whether or not you support this war, you must recognize that most westerners will continue to think in the back of their minds that this is Christendom vs. Islam. The Pope is explicitly working against this tendancy by encouraging interfaith understanding. It is really quite politically daring on a symbolic level. (And can one ever really get off of that level? Isn't religion a bunch of symbols?)
posted by rschram at 12:35 PM on December 15, 2001


Islam is just as oppressive and violent a religion as Catholicism

Care to explain that one? At least the Pope is trying to do something, to make a difference. You sit behind your computer throwing out garbage like this.

Go to hell and take skallas with you...
posted by Macboy at 5:31 PM on December 15, 2001


Hey Skallas,

Your website looks NOTHING like InstaPundit.

Nice work code pirate!
posted by Macboy at 5:35 PM on December 15, 2001


Go to hell and take skallas with you...

Ladies and gentlemen, Exhibit A.

Telling me to go to hell because you don't like that I think that Catholicism is oppressive and violent? Hmmm. . . hell being the place that a vengeful god sends people who don't please him, a place where people suffer horrible punishment for all of eternity. . . and telling people that they are going to hell as a way of scaring them into acting how you want them to act, believing what you believe. . . sounds violent and oppressive to me.

Thanks for such a great example.
posted by UrbanFigaro at 6:17 PM on December 15, 2001


Well, as long as we're trolling...
Any time a buch of religious faithful want to stop eating, I'm right there to back them up. Only a month? Wouldn't God love you just that much more if you stopped eating completely? Heaven awaits, kids.
posted by Hima Otsubusu at 6:53 PM on December 15, 2001


Yes, I know that wasn't constructive.
posted by Hima Otsubusu at 6:54 PM on December 15, 2001


Your website looks NOTHING like InstaPundit.


Wow, where to start? Well, that's a public blogger template.

I too see this as a very empty gesture as one religious institution known for its social naughties of condeming birth control and abortion suddenly calling Muslims their own. A little while ago, say before the Buddha bombings, the Vatican and the fundamentalist Muslims that make up the taliban had much in common.

By that I mean the moralistic and scripture based governments and ideologies lead to oppression. Catholicism's strict demands over handing over reproductive rights arguably can be seen as the Taliban's first attacks on women. This looks like a nice PR event, but in reality the church shouldn't attempt to throw stones when its housed more or less in a big glass house.

Empty gestures make for great PR.
posted by skallas at 7:45 PM on December 15, 2001


I'm still not buying the Catholocism/Taleban comparison.

The Pope acts as a moral guide to people who voluntarily submit to the Catholic faith. They decide Catholocism is for them, and they seek out the advice of the Pope. The Taleban, obvously, forced people into submission, and into their strict interpretation of Islam.

And why is it a "social naughty" to condem birth control and abortion? A very large part of Pope John Paul's job is to offer opinions on how scripture says catholics should live. He's a bad person for arriving at the conclusions he has? His moral obligation is simply this - tell practicing catholics what he feels the bible says. He owes you nothing and he owes society nothing. If he started offering pragmatic advice that compromised his principles he would be betraying the catholic faith.

Maybe you've missed this - Catholocism is not a government. Pope John Paul cannot oppress anyone because he has little real-life authority over anyone. If someone wants to follow what he says, they're free too. If not, no problem either. Since the fall of Franko I don't think there are any Catholic dictatorships left. Even so I don't think he was Roman Catholic.

Is it hard to believe that the Pope thinks that having Catholics praying and fasting for peace will help? Whether this is an empty gesture is debatable, but it's clear it is a nice gesture. There haven't been a lot of those between the major world religions lately, I can appreciate that he's trying.
posted by mragreeable at 8:36 PM on December 15, 2001


another reason that the Pope asked Catholics to fast is because fasting was a theme of Jesus. He talked many time in the scriptures that fasting is a powerful prayer. I also fail to see any irony in the Pope's gesture. Many aetheists may consider Catholics and Christians closed minded for whatever reason, but in my short time on MeFi, i have also found many non-believers who choose to blast all religion at every oppurtunity thet get. That is being closed minded and ignorant. Crap like Urban wrote is just pointless. I am always open to real arguement- not pointless rants that contain nothing but bullshit. I am sure I am not the only one with these feelings.
posted by jmd82 at 8:49 PM on December 15, 2001


The Taleban, obviously, forced people into submission, and into their strict interpretation of Islam.


That's not true, early ~1997 reports of the Taliban by even western journalists have had them painted as bringing order and abiding by the usual Islamic customs. My comparison is about the early taliban as already mentioned. Its only since the Taliban began tightening its fundamentalist belt that the world's attention began focusing on the mistreated afghan people.

And why is it a "social naughty" to condem birth control and abortion?

Because it endorses the subjection of women and helps create large families that many cannot afford to keep fed or clothed properly. I don't think I need to point out countries like the mostly catholic Philippines which suffers from overpopulation and poverty.

The hypocrisy here is about rejecting church and state separation like the Vatican city does. Yes, it may only be a few buildings, but its the principle that counts. After all morals aren't about skirting the rules - something is usually either wrong or right. The hypocrisy doubles when you realize the world-wide effect of Catholicism has helped create poverty not alleviate it. Isn't this what the big fasting is all about? Suffering?

Whether this is an empty gesture is debatable, but it's clear it is a nice gesture.

I see it as empty and also as monopolizing on the anti-taliban sentiments and policing action in Afghanistan. Its opportunism, disingenuous, and hypocritical. An empty gesture can never be nice, it can only be vacuous and useless.

The Pope acts as a moral guide to people who voluntarily submit to the Catholic faith.

That's not true either, children certainly don't have the facts, reasoning, or even the right to criticize their parents let alone choose the proper religious path for themselves. So there are millions living under Catholicism that never had a choice and if attempted to change would probably end up disowned or worse.

Pope John Paul cannot oppress anyone because he has little real-life authority over anyone.

As head of the Catholic Church he does have a responsibility and obligation to actually help those who follow him and not to play Mr. Opportunist. He also has the power to change minds and make real social change, but instead is focused on PR. Personally, this looks like payback for ignoring the WWII genocide against the Jewish people and making sure that empty and useless gestures are available for victims of all faiths. In other words PR.
posted by skallas at 9:13 PM on December 15, 2001


The hypocrisy here is about rejecting church and state separation like the Vatican city does

You make it sound like you expect Vatican City to have seperation of Church and State...Correct me if i'm wrong.
posted by jmd82 at 9:21 PM on December 15, 2001


"Vatican City to have seperation of Church and State"

WoW, what a mindbender. It literally gave me a rush.
posted by semmi at 10:26 PM on December 15, 2001


I musta been raised on Catholic Lite, even after 12 years of parochial school I have little to no understanding of the fear and hatred people show towards the church (I say this as someone who is now atheist).
posted by Mick at 10:27 PM on December 15, 2001


Skallas you seem to have stopped making sense.

The taleban forced people into a strict interpretation of Islam. Really. Whether they did it in 1997 is really not something I care to debate. I guess we should have magically guessed from your post that you were pointing out an ironic connection between the pre-1997 Taleban and the Pope. Freaking genius.

You speak of opportunism but don't support it. If this was a sudden turn from the Vatican's position for the last few years, maybe you'd have a point. But it's not. You have no insight into the Pope's decision making process. It's just as plausible that since violence and distrust in the name of religion seems to be at a rather high point in these last few months, the spiritual figurehead of the Catholic church is trying to change that through the means he has available. Is there some other, non-opportunistic method you can think of? You seem to have made the remarkable connection that since he opposes abortion he can not extend a gesture of goodwill towards Islam. A conclusion that seems to exist only in your mind.

Yes, submission to the Catholic faith is voluntary. If your parents force you to abide by that, you're submitting to your parents. Is the apostle Paul opressing the child of every Christian because his writings base a large part of their faith?

You say that by condemning abortion the Pope opresses women. Ok, well here goes : I think abortion is morally wrong. Am I now an opressor of women? Is anyone who differs from your opinion on the subject the same? Are you saying Pope John Paul cannot express his opinion on the subject because... why exactly? Because he's the pope, I guess.

And your clever little vatican connection. It's really rather simple. The Catholic church has owned that land for well over a thousand years. Some time in the last century they became their own coutry to ensure that the Catholic church wasn't under Italian political rule. That's all. Nothing the least bit Taleban-like. These aren't the droids you're looking for. Move along.

And as far as the nice gesture, thing, I guess we just disagree. When I apologize to someone for wronging them, that gesture has no meaning outside of it being a declaration of my feelings. I choose to humble myself to express to them that I acknowledge I did wrong. The pope wants catholics to make a personal sacrifice to show support and respect for members of another religion. In an of itself, it means nothing, but it's a nice gesture. As far as praying goes, there are those who would call that a innefective gesture, but it's not an empty one.

If I understand your point the only good gesture the Pope could make to Islam is to decide he's happy with abortion. Again, genius.
posted by mragreeable at 10:41 PM on December 15, 2001


If I understand your point the only good gesture the Pope could make to Islam is to decide he's happy with abortion.

Not at all, my points are about hypocrisy and credibility. The pope has no credibility in my opinion to offer the Muslim world anything when his own organization has done more damage world-wide than the taliban could ever aspire to.

You have no insight into the Pope's decision making process.

I'm sorry I didn't know you had a personal relationship with not only the pope but how he makes decisions. My conjecture is as good as yours.

Are you saying Pope John Paul cannot express his opinion on the subject because... why exactly? Because he's the pope, I guess.

As a religious leader he's not just expressing his opinion he's interpreting scripture and creating religious law. Law that has far reaching effects even in secular states. As a man of power he is subject to liability for the church's actions and decrees.

In your case, if you took your religious stance and tried to make it into secular law I would be just as opposed. Its one thing to have an opinion and another to bring that opinion into reality.

I think you're purposely playing stupid to make a statement about the pope being just another joe with an opinion. If you can't accept that man's incredible influence I really don't know what to tell you.

Is there some other, non-opportunistic method you can think of?

Sure, acknowledging Mohammed as a saint and prophet and dissolving the Vatican city-state. Both are gestures of acceptance and sympathy for the plight of the the Afghan Muslims. Oh course this wouldn't fly to well with the Cardinals and the flock in general, but you asked me what he could personally do.

'Pretend ramadan' doesn't really cut it, its an empty gesture from a man and organization that I see as a pariah in anything but Catholicism, especially in complex world events where scripture and religious decrees are nothing but an archaic hold-back. Again, I only see disingenuousness from an religious authority who is much more in league with theocracies than with the allianced democratic states that actually are taking the Taliban out of power.

The Catholic church has owned that land for well over a thousand years. Some time in the last century they became their own coutry to ensure that the Catholic church wasn't under Italian political rule.

I see no reason why they shouldn't be under Italian rule.

I'm not saying anything disparaging against those who understand and practice 'live and let live' or the billions of religious people who would never hurt a fly because of scripture. My problem is that this message is a thoughtless piece of PR. Purely empty and hypocritical and I call the Vatican on that. That's my opinion.
posted by skallas at 11:26 PM on December 15, 2001


I see no reason why they shouldn't be under Italian rule.
Why? In all my "debating" in college, i have never heard this arguement in my life. Pretty much every thing else, I've heard, but never that. When talking about religion in a general forum, i try (though i know I don'l always succeed) in taking a 3rd-person view to see other person's p.o.v. (when not ranting). But, I cannot begin to fathom why it is that Vatican City should be ruled by Italy. At one time, Italy was ruled by the Catholic Church. By your appearant train of thought, then there is no reason Italy shouldn't be under Vatican City's rule.
I also have a question: would YOU ever hurt a fly because of your aetheistic views, since those are the only views you appearantly hold? (its a rhetorical question)
posted by jmd82 at 11:41 PM on December 15, 2001


You make it sound like you expect Vatican City to have seperation of Church and State...Correct me if i'm wrong.

The existance of the Vatican as a recognized theocratic city-state goes against the ideals of secularism in politics. Am I expecting them to do it? No. Twenty years ago no one was expecting the Pope to embrace evolution in the way he did.

I do expect some kind of progressive change eventually, the Church can't sit on its laurrels forever. Though I can't decide if the change in their policy regarding evolution has to do with religious philosophy progressing or the acceptance of a popular theory to help keep the pews filled.
posted by skallas at 11:46 PM on December 15, 2001


Hm, in case you hadn't heard, the Vatican does NOT intend to be secular Why should they become secular? Because people out there (who aren't even Catholic) don't like the idea of a theocratic city-state? I am still waiting for a good reason.
The Vatican is not oppresive. They don't have a law where women have to wear veals (sp?). They don't have laws where women can't hold a reasonable job. In many countries, women do NOT have a choice, where they are shunned or worse if they don't follow the word of the government. You may feel that being pro-life or being against concraceptives (a reason is because a number of them have a percentage of preventing conception, and percentage of doing nothing, and the other percerntage? abortion). If you do not agree, that is fine, but the difference between the Pope making a stance and a middle-east country is Catholic Women have a choice (you are pro-choice, i know you like choices). Many women in the middle-east don't have choices (and i know you don't like people who are forced to do things).
posted by jmd82 at 12:07 AM on December 16, 2001


But, I cannot begin to fathom why it is that Vatican City should be ruled by Italy.

The Holy See, the political arm of the Vatican does have a seat in the UN and the Vatican has many interests outside of proselytizing like international banking and finance. It would also stop the headbutting the Vatican gets into with the Rome about debts. Not to mention embracing the ideals of secular government. I would have a lot more respect for a religion if it kept itself limited to religious activities and not be a pretend-country that is theocratic in nature.

Also, the Vatican exists because of deal cut with Mussolini, so I really don't see how you can assume they somehow deserve the land because this recent deal with a militant fascist. Once pagans ruled Rome, do they deserve a country too?

I also have a question: would YOU ever hurt a fly because of your aetheistic views, since those are the only views you appearantly hold?

Sorry jmd82, I'm not an atheist and I don't like the assumption that because someone criticizes certain religious activities they must be on the opposite side of the cosmological spectrum. I'm agnostic and I call em like I see them. As to what I "appearantly hold" this is just one little thread about the pope and his fasting. There's a bit more to me than that. :)
posted by skallas at 12:08 AM on December 16, 2001


How interesting that the Pope calls for people to fast during Chanukah, when fasting is strictly forbidden.

Jesus was a Jew and all.
posted by phoenix enflamed at 7:19 AM on December 16, 2001


0.4 square miles supported entirely by voluntary contributions. Oooh, scary...

Can I really be the only person around here that for whom this calls to mind the Know Nothings?

And by the way, Skallas, they tossed the Vatican's Washington Monument stone into the Potomac in 1854, well ahead of Mussolini's day, using the Vatican's status as a theocracy as the paper-thin cover for their anti-Catholic bigotry. Funny that England's status as a monarchy with a state religion didn't seem to bother them, but then again I've never heard anyone say that restoring Tibet by liberating it from the Chinese would be a bad idea because it's previous government was a theocracy.
posted by NortonDC at 8:38 AM on December 16, 2001


Skallas you seem to have stopped making sense.

I'm sorry, when did he start? B.T.W. I'm of NOT religious background or faith.
posted by Macboy at 8:47 AM on December 16, 2001


They don't have laws where women can't hold a reasonable job.

Priest, bishop, arch-bishop, cardinal and pope aren't reasonable jobs?
posted by boaz at 8:49 AM on December 16, 2001


Skallas -

One : you've been remarkably civil. I really respect that. Reading it over, my last post was a little more condescending that I would have liked and I think most folks would have turned much more hostile.

Two : I wholeheartedly acknowledge that the Pope is an influential man. I personally view things that unless I have reason to belive someone is lying, being opportunistic, whatever, I'd just as soon assume they were sincere, if not a bit mislead. Clearly you do not.

But notice that earlier you said that morals are a matter of right and wrong, not about skirting issues. Well I agree with that, and that's why I think it's illogical to expect the Pope to change his views on abortion because of world population or other issues. His job is to interpret the bible and whatever other documents the catholic church has cannonized. Determine absolute right and wrong, based on those assumptions that he and the other members of his church hold true. If you say he's made a bad call, that's one thing, but nothing should sway his decision but his doctrine. That's his job.

Or, to put it another way, it seems you're fine with me, as a random poster on Metafilter, to hold my views as I have them. However, if I suddenly became famous and respected I have some obligation to change them, because otherwise I become an oppressor.

If you believe that, no problem, but at least acknowledge that makes you a moral relativist.
posted by mragreeable at 9:48 AM on December 16, 2001


Can someone explain, exactly, why the Catholic church is so reprehensible to the average American? Gorwing up in Catholic schools in heavily Catholic Rhode Island, I never expected any of this. What is it were doing that's putting such a bug up your asses? The "subjection" of women? The only time I ever do that is when my girlfriend asks me to. And it's "subjugation." Some times she does it to me, too (yes, it's fornication, but it makes confession more interesting) .

It all does stink of Know Nothingness. I'm just glad they're so aptly named. I'll put it on the line for you: the Pope in Rome *is* the Anti-Christ, we are digging a tunnel to connect to the White House and we definitely will enslave you so we can build more copper-roofed buildings.

I'm personally leading a Crusade to deflower your virgins.
posted by yerfatma at 9:59 AM on December 16, 2001


yerfatma Regarding your crusade to deflower our virgins, I only have one thing to say: You'll never get Britney Spears!!
posted by rks404 at 10:26 AM on December 16, 2001


yerfatma: i hear you. I, too, was raised in Catholic schools untill now that i am attending the University of Gerogia. I think the reason that many people are hostile towards Catholics is because many of us are very outspoken in views of birth control, cloning, etc and people cannot handle these ideas. I am still learning about this hostility. Honestly, though, the most hostile people I've found towards me being a Catholic are Protestants here at college. Wow, do they ever like to argue.
posted by jmd82 at 12:51 PM on December 16, 2001


Twenty years ago no one was expecting the Pope to embrace evolution in the way he did.

You really have no clue what you're talking about, do you? The Roman Catholic Church is not the same thing as American Fundamentalism and has never had the same kind of problem with evolutionary theory as they have. For anyone who's paid any attention to Roman Catholic thinking, the Pope's recent words on the subject were nothing new.
posted by straight at 9:02 AM on December 17, 2001


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