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Catholic rebels with a cause
July 26, 2005 10:22 PM   Subscribe

Catholic rebels with a cause Two days ago, on a boat on the St. Lawrence River, nine Catholic rebels did something in direct defiance of the Vatican and now face the real prospect of excommunication by the Inquisitor Cardinal Formerly Known as Ratzinger. What crime did they commit, you might ask? Were they participant in something blackhearted, vile and fully deserving of society's wrath, like, say child abuse or pedophilia? Heck no. The white-haired guys at HQ in Rome will look the other way on that business. They might even reward duplicitous attempts to cover up that sort of thing. These malcontents did something much, much worse in the eyes of the Holy See, among others. These are Catholic women, you see. And they had themselves ordained, some as priests and some as deacons. If you've followed Ratzinger's career, you'll recall his response the last time this issue surfaced, so the conclusion to this saga is all-but-foregone.

At least he's consistent in what he thinks ought to be the correct response of an individual in the face of a rigid, autocratic institution bent on order.
posted by runningdogofcapitalism (93 comments total)

 
Way to post a FPP with maximum troll-flavored goodness. I'm not even Catholic and I'm offended. But never fear. MeFites are happy to pounce on all things religious so we're Off To The Races!
posted by spock at 10:35 PM on July 26, 2005


The webmistress at Culture of Life News ][ recently discussed her run-in with Ratzinger in 1968.
...he scolded me for being a feminist radical. His "Kinder, Kuchen, Kirche" beliefs was stuff straight out of the Nazi philosophy.

This debate shocked everyone, they assured me he was a liberal. I countered hotly, auf deutsch, of course, "If he is a liberal then he should support women's rights!"

This included in particular, the right to birth control.

Rather than debate me further, he fled the lecture hall.
posted by Aknaton at 10:40 PM on July 26, 2005


Kinder, Kueche, Kirche! (Kids, kitchen, church) - no cake there ;-)
posted by nostrada at 10:54 PM on July 26, 2005


On one hand, I would like to applaud these women. On the other hand, I hold the Holy See in such contempt that I can't help but see their quest as misguided. If a trio of women succesfully petition the KKK for Grand Wizard ordination, do you applaud or condemn them?
posted by ori at 10:59 PM on July 26, 2005


So, how do you feel about the issue, runningdogofcapitalism?
posted by Bugbread at 11:13 PM on July 26, 2005


I'm having difficulty feeling outraged about this. These women are openly and unrepentantly defying the doctrine of their church body, and therefore they will probably cease to be members. If they don't believe the doctrine, why do they call themselves Catholics?

The sexual abuse scandal was obviously handled badly, but it's really not relevant.
posted by Galvatron at 11:16 PM on July 26, 2005


If the women have done enough studying to qualify for priesthood, they know they do not qualify for priesthood.
So, a non-issue? a bid for attention?
posted by Cranberry at 11:21 PM on July 26, 2005


From Adam’s rib
God made a chick;
Now women’s lib
has a bone to pick.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:39 PM on July 26, 2005


Draped in rich, pink flowing robes, they invoked water as a symbol for the changes they believe are happening in the Roman Catholic Church – growing movement toward equality in the church – one that will be difficult for the Vatican to ignore.

"Just as the waters broke in the wombs of our mothers, so we break open the waters of Mother Church and welcome her daughters into equality," one of the women intoned.

Erm, I really think these women need to be Unitarians.

Honestly, there are much more important reforms the Church needs to make. Female priests are an important step, but I think it's probably a better idea to try and increase the role of female laity first (like we were SUPPOSED to do with Vatican II) and allow clergy to marry.

Most liberal Catholics I know have their sights set on the latter two goals as the next major steps for the Church. These women are going be dismissed by both liberal and conservative Catholics as wackos.
posted by xthlc at 11:43 PM on July 26, 2005


And then there was this massive, global, millions strong and ages old organization. The organization, being massive and ages old, naturally had thousands upon thousands of rules and also rules saying that if you didn't obey those other rules you would be excluded from the organization (once upon a time the organization burned the rule breakers alive, but recently it had decided they weren't really worth the trouble). Our heroes decided they would defy the organization, they would disobey some important rules and let everybody know what they did, in order to see what the organization would do against such a challenge. The organization then looked upon what they had done and excluded our heroes, as predicted. Our heroes then went on to be part of other similar but smaller and less traditional organizations, the organization went on doing what it had been doing forever and everybody lived happy ever after.
posted by nkyad at 12:01 AM on July 27, 2005


If they don't believe the doctrine, why do they call themselves Catholics?

The same reason that the millions of Catholics that call themselves so condone birth control. Or abortion. Or married priests. Or masturbation. Or premarital sex. Or disagreement with papal infallability. Or homosexuality.

I have resigned myself to believing that I self-identify as Catholic for reasons more related to cultural upbringing than current belief system.

From Adam’s rib
God made a chick;
Now women’s lib
has a bone to pick.

Burma-Shave

posted by RikiTikiTavi at 12:09 AM on July 27, 2005


Galvatron and Cranberry: Good questions. As I see it, when you're a member of something and you find yourself at odds with a convention or a law, you have choices. Among them, you can dissociate yourself (call it the "love it or leave it" point of view), or you can do what the St. Lawrence Nine have done and engage in an act of passive resistance. Bad laws and doctrine are challenged all the time. And the Vatican certainly isn't immune from having to own up for some doozie mistakes in the past.

Do I think it's high time that women be able to train and become priests and deacons, bishops, cardinals and even Pope? Absolutely. The reasoning in opposition has never made much sense to me. And the overeagerness of the institution in invoke closure on the matter is something that I have always found a bit troublesome.

Some might see this thread as troll bait (and since I post only on rare occasion, I'm not even sure what FPP means), but that would be unfortunate. At face value, it is an interesting story that's getting pick-up in Canada and elsewhere. But more importantly, it points to the need for civil discourse in society (and certainly within the church) on many issues. Institutionally, that's clearly (warning: long and pedantic link) not going to happen under Ratzinger's watch, but in civic society, there's always hope.

P.S. I would submit to you that it is quite relevant to demonstrate where an institution metes out its most severe punishment to women priests who write bad prose--while protecting and rewarding others who in some countries would have been jailed. If anything, it's revealing of the woeful state of priorities within the Vatican these days.
posted by runningdogofcapitalism at 12:26 AM on July 27, 2005


FPP = Frequently Poor Polemics



(actually, front page post)
posted by ori at 12:41 AM on July 27, 2005


Do I think it's high time that women be able to train and become priests and deacons, bishops, cardinals and even Pope?

That's a rhetorical question, right?

Some might see this thread as troll bait (and since I post only on rare occasion, I'm not even sure what FPP means), but that would be unfortunate. At face value, it is an interesting story that's getting pick-up in Canada and elsewhere.

If it's already interesting at face value, why do you then hide it under your rant?
posted by FieldingGoodney at 1:42 AM on July 27, 2005


MetaFilter -- I'm not even Catholic and I'm offended
posted by matteo at 1:57 AM on July 27, 2005


RikiTikiTavi wins.

BTW, condoning capital punishment is also at odds with church doctrine.
posted by magullo at 2:57 AM on July 27, 2005


runningdogofcapitalism: "..it points to the need for civil discourse.." *except in the wording of a Front Page Post Troll*
posted by peacay at 3:38 AM on July 27, 2005


Catholicism is evolution's opposite, in that it causes stupid people to produce more offspring.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:58 AM on July 27, 2005


I had a friend who was a young gay Catholic Deacon with self-harm issues. We were driving up to Scotland and stopped at a garage, and he saw the headline in the Guardian saying that John Paul II once again condemned gay marriage as ungodly. My friend was very annoyed at this. I asked, "Why are you annoyed? Isn't he infallable on moral issues?". "Exactly," he replied, "that's why I wish he'd shut up."
posted by Pretty_Generic at 4:02 AM on July 27, 2005


Hooray for these women.
May they be the trickle that starts a flood.
Shame on The Roman Catholic church and all the members who do not protest doctrine they disagree with while claiming solidarity with the organization.
The difference between religiosity and Christianity is evident in this story.
Jesus would be very proud of these ladies.
posted by nofundy at 4:55 AM on July 27, 2005


Isn't he infallable on moral issues?". "Exactly," he replied.
It seems your friend is fallible in his understanding of Papal infallibility.
posted by klarck at 5:08 AM on July 27, 2005


The sad thing is that the Church currently needs every willing priest it can get. In America, somes parishes are losing their resident priest, now having to schedule masses around the availability of the local itinerant. Others are getting their first South American or African priest -- those being the two parts of the world where people are still enthusiastic about priesthood.

The Church does deserve continuing criticism in this regard; it would rather harm itself than admit that one of its ancient rules needs to go.
posted by solipse at 5:25 AM on July 27, 2005


As an atheist, I think little of Christianity and even less of Catholicism. Nevermind that faith is born of an irrational epistemology - the Pope, writs for sin, burning of heretics, papal bulls, et cetera were never mentioned by Christ insofar as we know of his words, nor in the writings of his direct followers. Even if Christianity were somehow true, the practices and the structure of the Catholic church are biblically unfounded in the extreme.

That having been said, from a strict Biblical perspective Ratzinger's view here is (unfortunately) in line with the writings of Paul:

"For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church." 1 Corinthians 13:34-35

"A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent." 1 Timothy 2:11-12


The scant text in opposition to this viewpoint is far more open to interpretation (Paul could have been referring to elder women as teaching through example, for instance).

"The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things." Titus 2:3

While a full review of the life of Christ as regards women is outside the scope of this post, let me assure that he was not at all the (supposedly God-inspired) misogynist that Paul was. That having been said, I can recall no specific known quotation of Christ that would directly oppose Paul's statements. However, Paul was throughout much of his ministry in the perfect position to edit out any quotations of Christ that would have contradicted him on this or any other point (which is in fact what I believe happened to an otherwise well-intentioned Judaic reformist movement centered around Christ).

As Christians and believers in a perfect Christian God, however, these women would necessarily have to believe that God would not intentionally deceive his followers, and that therefore he did not allow the Bible to be significantly altered from his intent.1 This being the case, the way in which they are behaving is, according to Christianity, in opposition to God's will. I think Ratzinger is the worst thing to happen to the the abominable monstrosity that is the Catholic church in the past century, but as far as known scripture is concerned, he's technically in the right on this one.

As someone said above, these women should seek out a Unitarian church, because their actions and the beliefs those actions imply suggest that they are Unitarians in fact regardless of how they would prefer to label themselves.

1That scripturally unsound Catholicism was for so many centuries effectively the whole of Christianity is perhaps one of the greatest examples of the inconsistency of Christianity as a religion.
posted by Ryvar at 5:27 AM on July 27, 2005


For those who are truly interested in this subject matter let me recommend a book: When Women Were Priests by Karen Torjesen. The church needs to get over this BS about the role of women in the church.
posted by nofundy at 5:29 AM on July 27, 2005


Ryvar,
The teachings of Paul are, unfortunately, often in conflict with the teachings and example of Jesus. Remember, Paul was of the Greco-Roman culture and carried that baggage with him and in his understanding of "how things should be."

One example: can anyone name the very first Christian teacher/preacher/prophet?
Hint: read about the first time Jesus entered a temple as a baby.
What?
It was a woman who explained to the congregation the significance of this baby? (Anna)
Gasp!
What will we tell the Pope?
Surely such a learned man of the scripture knows this already!!
Maybe he just wants to retain power for all the rich old white men?
posted by nofundy at 5:37 AM on July 27, 2005


Marie David, of Harwich, Mass., was one of those ordained. She said that she plans to celebrate Mass and perform baptisms and weddings at her bed and breakfast.

Hmmm , We Catholics now have a choice to make :
Sistine Chapel ,
or Bed and Breakfast ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:44 AM on July 27, 2005


klarck, please elaborate. That page appears to agree that when the Pope makes official moral pronouncements, such as the one I was talking about, he is infallible.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 5:49 AM on July 27, 2005


nofundy: you'll notice I said above that Christ's life did not reflect Paul's misogyny. This includes Anna.

This does not mean that Paul's misogyny is not reflected within scripture. The verses I quoted are there and unavoidable and a hypothetical God has let them stand untouched for millenia now as a representation of his will. Additionally, see 2nd Timothy 3:16.
posted by Ryvar at 5:52 AM on July 27, 2005


If the women have done enough studying to qualify for priesthood, they know they do not qualify for priesthood.

"352-Council of Laodicea: women are not to be ordained. This suggests that before this time there was ordination of women" A Brief History of Celibacy in the Catholic Church.

"Nine out of ten Catholic scholars in the world support the ordination of women" womenpriests.org. This site claims to have the full text of all Roman documents that ban women's ordination as well as over 130 modern theologians arguments for. I offer it up in the name of informed debate.
posted by carmen at 6:12 AM on July 27, 2005


Yes, Ryvar, I understand.
Sorry I was not clear on that.

In my mind, Paul's scripture often leaves something to be desired. Now James, I can go with. :-)

Let's just go back to Leviticus if we're gonna be misogynists, no need to even bring New Testament scripture into it, eh?

Get a clue, Ratzinger Pope dude (former Nazi and former head of the official office of the Inquisition)!
posted by nofundy at 6:13 AM on July 27, 2005


So, runningdogofcapitalism, do you really think an FPP that compares the Catholic Church to Nazi's is not a troll? What are your standards for determing that something is a troll then?


Question: Why do these ordinations always seem to happen on a boat?
posted by oddman at 6:37 AM on July 27, 2005


Just as a matter of interest, does anyone know if these women found a bishop to ordain them? Or did they ordain themselves?
posted by verstegan at 6:37 AM on July 27, 2005


Cult puts limits on who gets to dress up in funny clothes. Excluded parties put on funny clothes anyway. More at 11.
posted by signal at 6:49 AM on July 27, 2005


If they don't believe the doctrine, why do they call themselves Catholics?

That's how organizations change. Members who disagree with doctrine gradually outnumber the others, and eventually doctrine changes.

And yes, doctrine does change over time, even in the Catholic church.
posted by Happy Monkey at 6:49 AM on July 27, 2005


So, runningdogofcapitalism, do you really think an FPP that compares the Catholic Church to Nazi's is not a troll?

When was that comparison made? There was a link that pointed out that Ratzinger was a member of the Hitler Youth.

Is this fact irrelevant to a discussion about how he — as Pope Benedict — conducts the Church's activities and policies?

Do we now simply ignore facts about religious leaders and their religions that are too uncomfortable for their followers?
posted by Rothko at 6:52 AM on July 27, 2005


from womenpriests.org :

"Overall responsibility for this website lies with John Wijngaards."
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:53 AM on July 27, 2005


PG, here's an example I've found useful when reading about Papal/Vatican announcements. An opinion Scalia writes for for a SCOTUS case has different implications than one he may voice when speaking at a Kiwannies Convention. In addition, if he decides to voice an opinion on, say, who the greatest Nascar driver is, it probably wouldn't be taken seriously in any venue.

Likewise, the content and context of the Pope's announcements have implications regarding the infallibility of the message. It's never been easy, even for Catholics, to tell what role or in what context he speaks.

For the record, there have been only two (or is it one?)infallible statments made by a Pope.
posted by klarck at 6:54 AM on July 27, 2005


For the record, there have been only two (or is it one?)infallible statments made by a Pope.

1) 'The Jews are evil and we can prove this.'

What was the other?
posted by biffa at 7:10 AM on July 27, 2005


Scripture is always subject to interpretation Ryvar. The Women Priests site cited by carmen provides refutation for your interpretation of Timothy and Corinthians. For me, the most important speaker in the Bible is Jesus. He more than anyone speaks God's words, although we necessarily hear his words through other writers, some written long after Jesus was crucified. Jesus never forbade women priests.
posted by caddis at 7:10 AM on July 27, 2005


nofundy (and caddis, on preview, whom I cover towards the end here): Even when I was a believer I shared your misgivings about Paul. That having been said, it is important from a doctrinal standpoint that Paul's beliefs regarding both women and homosexuals be included in the New Testament.

The Old Testament, specifically the Pentateuch, records the earlier covenants between God and man. Or to be more direct, between God and the Jewish people. To a very large degree this covenant as given through (and recorded by) Moses is very exclusionary. Within this context, condemnation of homosexuals and explicit reduction of the status of women is hardly unexpected.

It is what is in what is commonly referred to as the New Covenant (the New Testament) that Christ supposedly greatly expanded the ability for all men and women to have access to God without the intercession of a priest1, destroying the barrier between God and man upon his death (the curtain of the Holy of Holies being torn as he died). Within this context, a more liberal view towards both women and homosexuals might have been possible. Unfortunately a person who believes in a perfect, loving, and all-powerful Christian God must accept that said God allowed Paul's condemnation (or the condemnation of future transcribers as posited by caddis' links) of homosexuals and misogyny to persist within the text which has represented his will and the New Covenant to nearly all his followers for many many centuries now.

It is important for this reason to recognize the existence of Paul's views which mirror those in the Old Testament. If an all-powerful, perfect, and loving God objects to Paul's views, he's certainly taking his sweet time in making that known to us. One cannot believe in an all-powerful God who loves his followers and yet for centuries has allowed them to believe in false representation of major points of doctrine (the role of women within the church is pretty major).

Failure to believe in biblical inerrancy or near-inerrancy is impossible to reconcile with the belief in a loving and all-powerful God, because such a figure would by very definition not allow himself to be so grossly misrepresented. One cannot pick and choose what parts of the Bible to accept without throwing the whole of it into serious jeopardy.

Oh, and Alex Reynolds: my paternal grandparents were Hitler Youth as well. After watching their childhood Jewish friends get dragged away. Perhaps you are unaware, but children living in Nazi Germany were not given a choice as to whether or not to become Hitlerjugend.

After escaping Eastern Germany and coming to America, they hammered an abhorrence of racism and facism into their children and grandchildren from the time they began speaking.

Holding a person's former status as a member of the Hitler Youth against them is, frankly, bullshit. Judging by my grandparents it results in adults who are if anything violently reactionary towards anything that smacks of Nazi ideologies.

1It's ironic that in the Lord's Prayer Christ instructed his disciples to ask for forgiveness directly from God, without the intercession of priests as in the Catholic hurch. This was pretty clearly a method used by the Catholic church to provide itself with blackmail material against its followers in much the same manner practiced by Scientologists.
posted by Ryvar at 7:25 AM on July 27, 2005


Oddman. Go back and re-read my post. I was pointing out Ratzinger's record as a member of the Hitler Youth, which parallels in a rather consistent (and eerie) manner his views on resistance to institutional orthodoxy. His choice is an uncomfortable fact, yes, but then I didn't vote for the guy. As for why these events are taking place on boats, it's apparently a legal manoeuvre to thwart individual diocese from taking action (but what action is not quite clear). Verstegan, that's a good question and one that I've been trying to find an answer to, as well. This event took place just days after a conference on the matter, held at Carleton University in Ottawa, at which time the city's archibishop caused a stir of his own with pronouncements (Google-cached link, so get it while you can) on how the matter should be responded to (i.e., not talked about) at the parish level. Nofundy: thanks for the tip about the book...I'll be sure to check it out.
posted by runningdogofcapitalism at 7:37 AM on July 27, 2005


Failure to believe in biblical inerrancy or near-inerrancy is impossible to reconcile with the belief in a loving and all-powerful God, because such a figure would by very definition not allow himself to be so grossly misrepresented. That is but one viewpoint.

As to the Hitler Youth accusations - I agree that they are nonsense. He most likely was forced into this position; we can not really know his motivations for sure so it is better to judge him on his life after WWII.
posted by caddis at 7:37 AM on July 27, 2005


klarck, I believe there have been only two, both were about Mary.

Rothko, runningdog wrote "At least he's consistent in what he thinks ought to be the correct response of an individual in the face of a rigid, autocratic institution bent on order." Isn't that clearly indicating that the Catholic Church is similar to the Nazi Government in that running dog thinks of them both as "autocratic insitutions bent on order"? It is a comparison and a conclusion that they are similar.
posted by oddman at 7:41 AM on July 27, 2005


Perhaps you are unaware, but children living in Nazi Germany were not given a choice as to whether or not to become Hitlerjugend.

Ryvar — whatever your name is — perhaps I'm not unaware (for what it's worth, I speak German and have a minor in German from Johns Hopkins, which has one of the top Germanic Studies programs in the country) but I don't count membership as a valid excuse for sociopathic misogynist behavior down the road. If anything, that experience should have tempered those impulses. Or he could have rebelled, as some chose to, suffering death as punishment.

All that aside, to ignore that he was a part of that organization, and to ignore that that experience flavors his behavior today — even to ignore the Catholic Church's culpability in the Holocaust — is historical revisionism at best and intellectually dishonest at worst.
posted by Rothko at 7:41 AM on July 27, 2005


btw, caddis, I do agree that nothing Christ said ever specifically disallowed woman priests. However, what Paul said did, and if there is a God then he has seen fit to permit those words to persist. Of course, from a Christian perspective it's true that God often has motives which surpass the understanding of men, but preventing fully fifty percent of his believers from having any authority within the church for two thousand years and counting with little apparent reason seems difficult to accept. At least to this atheist.
posted by Ryvar at 7:50 AM on July 27, 2005


Alex Reynolds: if you've been reading any of my posts above, then you'll know that *as a conservative amongst Catholic cardinals* he must believe that he has a God-given duty, regardless of his personal feelings, to adopt that stance. His history simply doesn't enter into it.

As for the Catholic involvement in the Holocaust: no fucking shit. I was taught that at four.
posted by Ryvar at 7:56 AM on July 27, 2005


...you'll know that *as a conservative amongst Catholic cardinals* he must believe that he has a God-given duty, regardless of his personal feelings, to adopt that stance. His history simply doesn't enter into it.

I get it now: He's just following orders. Except he's the Pope and doesn't need to follow orders. I can see why the Nazi metaphor doesn't fit whatsoever.
posted by Rothko at 8:12 AM on July 27, 2005


Religions hardly change. Why would you believe in a religion that is malleable? So that it fits what you want or believe? How does THAT guide you?

If ya don't like your current religion, pick another. If no others fit, start your own.
posted by cleverusername at 8:17 AM on July 27, 2005


For the record, there have been only two (or is it one?)infallible statments made by a Pope.

Or is it zero?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 8:24 AM on July 27, 2005


2 Timothy 3:16:
Every Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness
Of course, 2 Timothy was a letter written prior to the New Testament getting 'approved' by church bureaucrats/dogmatists, and has no knowledge of or bearing on any New Testament 'scriptures.' But let's not let the facts get in the way of any discussion.
posted by norm at 8:28 AM on July 27, 2005


Religions hardly change.

Religions change all the time. They are, after all, collections of people, and people change. Some are faster and some are slower, but they all adjust to the times.
posted by Happy Monkey at 8:32 AM on July 27, 2005


In his view he's following God's orders. And the Pope needs to follow those more than anybody. You'd think that would be rather obvious.

But far be it from me to dissuade you from your eager desire to engage in stereotyping.

It is, afterall, certainly fair to expect a nine-year-old (Ratzinger's age when membership became mandatory by law) to rebel against joining the Hitler Youth after being saturated with the most effective propaganda machine the world had ever seen. He should be willing to die for something he can't understand at nine, and you with the hindsight of sixty years of history in your mid-to-late twenties or early thirties still can't. Especially when his duties given his age most likely consisted of hauling a wagon around Marktl am Inn looking for scrap metal to recycle.

It's also fair to assume that just because he holds beliefs you find distasteful, that his forced membership into an organization he almost certainly reviled afterwards must be to blame. Afterall, what else could give him those beliefs? Certainly not that religion he's the foremost figure of out of a billion people, which demands that he holds such views in order to be in compliance with the stated views of the God of that religion.

The Catholic Chuch's involvement in the Holocaust when he was nine years old was also his fault, of course.

Before you protest that I'm not being entirely fair to you, I'd like you to consider how fair you're being to him, or to former members of the Hitler Youth in general.
posted by Ryvar at 8:37 AM on July 27, 2005


Norm: I'm aware of that, and the basic principle (2nd Timothy is generally believed to postdate Paul's death) is one that I as an atheist hold to. Still, it's relevant because it falls under the same general explanation for Biblical inerrancy that I provided above.
posted by Ryvar at 8:49 AM on July 27, 2005


Ryvar: Unfortunately a person who believes in a perfect, loving, and all-powerful Christian God must accept that said God allowed Paul's condemnation ... of homosexuals and [his] misogyny to persist within the text which has represented his will

We could also argue that we shouldn't be silly enough to listen to anyone coming after God's own Son who claims to know His truth. How would a Christian rationalise the rise of Islam other than by saying that post-Christ religious teachings are just plain wrong?

Some Christians go so far as to suggest that Paul was in fact the Antichrist: this would seem a good basis for rejecting his commentary as being divinely inspired. Wikipedia says: an idea common among some scholars of religion, that the original teachings of Christ were subverted by Paul, who some characterize as a Jewish spy and false convert.
posted by alasdair at 8:49 AM on July 27, 2005


In his view he's following God's orders. And the Pope needs to follow those more than anybody. You'd think that would be rather obvious.

There is no distinction between God's orders and the Pope's. Ergo, [ Ratzinger-as-God's-voice | Pope ] is in a unique position to determine the course of his church's activities and policies.

He is free to do as he pleases — just as I am free to comment on the factual basis of his past and present actions.

I would argue, however, that he is in a position to affect a great deal more change in the world than I. And how he chooses to behave reflects — per Church doctrine, not mine — just as much light upon the factual qualities of his religion and its followers. Discussing his past is as relevant to this end as any other.

But far be it from me to dissuade you from your eager desire to engage in stereotyping.

Just quoting the gospel as written by those who get to write it. You might disagree with the interpretation, but what have I said that is factually incorrect?
posted by Rothko at 8:55 AM on July 27, 2005


Or is it zero?
Wow, you sure hit that slowpitch over the fence.
posted by klarck at 9:28 AM on July 27, 2005


All these posts saying that Ratzinger's Hitler youth days are irrelevant are bullshit. Of course they're relevant. The Pope is suppose to be infallible, an absolute moral authority, God's living representative on Earth... In other words, Popes don't make mistakes. So if such a divine person can be party to such evil, then what does it indicate about the church that he leads?

And no, I don't judge other former members of the Hitler youth by the same measure. Why? Because they're not the fucking Pope, that's why! They haven't spent a lifetime preaching about their morals, and they don't expect millions of people to accept their pronouncements as those from God.
posted by Elpoca at 9:30 AM on July 27, 2005


Thank you, Elpoca, for this eloquent explanation.
posted by Rothko at 9:40 AM on July 27, 2005


norm: You'll notice that I presented 2nd Timothy 3:16 as more of an ancillary note and I did so precisely for that reason. This does not change the degree to which - stepping outside the text and examing what motives God might have - Biblical inerrancy is supported through very simple reasoning. It is, however, of relevance to the discussion because the text (2nd Timothy probably post-dates the gospels of Mark and Matthew) itself makes the claim of inerrancy. You're right in saying that by itself it isn't a complete argument.

alasdair: Ultimately if God exists as all-powerful it is he that dictates the content of the text that represents him. To claim that he is loving and perfect while he permits vast tracts of misleading text to permeate said text seems a bit far-fetched.

That having been said, I more or less agree about Paul twisting Christianity to his own ends. My own background is of extremely intense religious training (private religious school with a bible class each day and extra devotional 40 minutes every monday morning, pledges to the Christian flag after pledges to the American flag, Vacation Bible School or religious summer camp every summer, Christian cartoons, Christian music around the house or in the car, personal devotions every evening before bed, youth group on wednesday and friday nights, youth Bible study thursday nights, youth choir practice and potluck dinners or similar events on saturdays, church service and sunday school on sundays followed by evening service again at 6PM, biweekly extended family gettogethers involved hymns and prayer, prayer sessions during the Superbowl halftime show . . . I managed to eke out a victory over my pastor in a Bible trivia game at age 8). My formative years were spent on Dune and evangelical fundamentalism was Spice. I became an atheist between eighteen and nineteen.

My own take on Christianity is that it essentially was a largely benign cult and movement to reform orthodox Judaism centered around a man named Jesus. For this reason the conservative religious leaders (Pharisees and Sadducees) orchestrated his execution by the Romans. Despite his death, a desire to reform Judaism persisted, and a somewhat modified version of said reform movement weakly persisted after his death.

I see Paul as something of an equivalent to Karl Rove, really. An extremely skilled manipulator who fully understood how to architect and utilize religion to influence the greater world around him. This would be a natural outgrowth of his position as a rising star amongst the extremeist orthodox Judaic religious orders.

I believe that perhaps more than anything, he was a Zionist, and saw in the fledgling cult that survived and grew despite the death of its central figure a tool to bring about the collapse of the Roman empire, and thereby free the Jewish people from its rule.

I believe he staged a false conversion, used his natural skills to rapidly rise to the leadership of said cult, and began twisting it into an ideological war machine aimed at the Roman empire, editing its texts as he went. Along the way, he injected the occasional bit of orthodox Judaism as well - whether by design or because he simply couldn't help it. His closest and most trusted followers that survived his death (supposedly as a martyr - he wouldn't be the first person to be consumed by a religion he created by a long shot) continued to help forge his ideological weapon, but I would assume that beyond their deaths the thing took on a life of its own. While it did not destroy the Roman empire per se, it would seem to have hastened its demise.

It's also possible that he simply wanted to craft a religion that reflected his own ideology and it happened to help fracture the Roman empire along the way, but given his background I have difficulty accepting this.
posted by Ryvar at 9:53 AM on July 27, 2005


The issue of Biblical inerrancy seems to be the major sticking point here.
Just let me say that the teaching of inerrancy is errant.

That does not mean that scriptures aren't useful for many things, such as teaching. The way I prefer to phrase it is that the Bible is intended as a rule and guide for how we should live our lives, not as a club to beat others about the head with or a history book of the world. They're stories people! Parables! Lessons!

One more (rather pedantic) thing, the Pentateuch was for the children of Israel, not just for the tribe of Judah (the Jewish.)

Thanks all for the positive contributions to the discussion.
posted by nofundy at 9:58 AM on July 27, 2005


Alex and Eloca: if the Pope says something in direct contradiction to existent scripture (which he is specifically chosen not to do), which is what that would constitute, I highly doubt the Catholic church would side with the Pope over what they consider to be the inspired word of God.

Furthermore, Alex, I'm not taking issue with your facts - I'm taking issue with the way in which you're attempting to infer that his conservatism arises out of him being forced into the Hitlerjugend at age nine, rather than his religious beliefs. Your implication that children should elect to die for issues they are incapable of understanding is, furthermore, disgusting.
posted by Ryvar at 10:06 AM on July 27, 2005


Furthermore, Alex, I'm not taking issue with your facts - I'm taking issue with the way in which you're attempting to infer that his conservatism arises out of him being forced into the Hitlerjugend at age nine, rather than his religious beliefs. Your implication that children should elect to die for issues they are incapable of understanding is, furthermore, disgusting.

Your sloppiness with the truth is even more disgusting, Ryvar. Ratzinger was "forced" to join the Nazi party at age 14 and stayed there for another three years.

Feel free to apologize here or by email.
posted by Rothko at 10:26 AM on July 27, 2005


Feel free to apologize here or by email.

How's that apology thing working for you, Alex?

That said, being a member of the Hitler youth in Germany at that time was more than slightly mandatory unless you personally wanted to fight the entire Nazi horde singlehandedly. It sounds like the Pope is repentant and has never believed in the Nazi ideology, nor does so today. Story over.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 10:29 AM on July 27, 2005


How's that apology thing working for you, Alex?

Yeah, given the source I'm not holding my breath. Guess we'll see how much of deeply religious man we have on our hands.
posted by Rothko at 10:34 AM on July 27, 2005


Rothko: Joining the Hitlerjugend was mandatory in Germany as of 1936, when Ratzinger was 9 years old. That article has it wrong.

Feel free to apologize here or by email.
posted by Ryvar at 10:35 AM on July 27, 2005


Oh and Rothko, I am, as I've noted at least three times in this thread, an atheist.
posted by Ryvar at 10:36 AM on July 27, 2005


Elpoca, you seem to misunderstand what Catholics believe about papal infallibility. We don't think that popes are necessarily good or holy, only that when they teach officially, they do not teach error. There may have been popes with bad moral characters, but none of them taught heresy.

In point of fact, I don't think Benedict XVI's behavior as a teenager is a problem, but even if he had acted as badly as you seem to think, that wouldn't, for a Catholic, call into question the doctrine of papal infallibility.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:39 AM on July 27, 2005


From your own link:

Only at 14 did kids switch from the part of the organization that was called the Deutsches Jungvolk to the part that was called the Hitler Jugend ("Hitler Youth")

Putting aside this detail, he was in service until 1944, at the age of 17.

Feel free to apologize here or by email.
posted by Rothko at 10:39 AM on July 27, 2005


Yes, and from same link, the Deutsches Jungvolk was a branch of the Hitler Jugend. Furthermore, from Wikipedia: "The Deutsches Jungvolk was another Hitler Youth group, intended for still younger children, both boys and girls."

Face it. You were wrong.
posted by Ryvar at 10:43 AM on July 27, 2005


You were factually wrong, and I'm still waiting for your apology for an unwarranted personal attack, Ryvar. Man up and do the right thing.
posted by Rothko at 10:47 AM on July 27, 2005


Oh, and one other thing - my grandfather died last month at age 78, which means he was born in 1927. He told me he was pressed into the Hitler Youth at age 10 (which would be 1937) and was very lucky not to see combat as he turned 18 in 1945
posted by Ryvar at 10:50 AM on July 27, 2005


Get a room you two.
posted by caddis at 11:03 AM on July 27, 2005


Ratzinger could not have been pressed into the HJ at 9, let alone at 10. Your grandfather may have been in the Hitler Jugend at 14 but not at 10. The Hitler Jugend and Jungvolk were two separate male Staatsjugend organizations, with membership separated by age.
posted by Rothko at 11:05 AM on July 27, 2005


Rothko you're splitting hairs on terminology here, and I'm calling bullshit on it. The fact is that Ratzinger was pressed into *A* Nazi youth organization of some kind at 9, and my grandfather at 10. You suggested that he could have rebelled here, which would have resulted in his death at nine years of age. That's a disgusting thing to say, end of discussion.
posted by Ryvar at 11:10 AM on July 27, 2005


Actually let me correct myself on one minor point - Ratzinger would have been pressed into a Nazi youth organization at age 10, not 9.

Furthermore, asking someone of 14 years of age, even 17, to choose to die is still a disgusting thing to do.
posted by Ryvar at 11:12 AM on July 27, 2005


Ryvar, either be a man and apologize for your mistakes, or focus your attentions on other topics.

Furthermore, asking someone of 14 years of age, even 17, to choose to die is still a disgusting thing to do.

As such a stringent, orthodox Catholic, he should likely have had such strength of faith that, had he resisted (which he did not do until the Reich was falling apart, for what it's worth, and even then he simply deserted), and had he been murdered for resistance (not always guaranteed), that he (or someone equally pious) would have been beatified, canonized, etc. through the usual process, no? I mean, if he is genuinely a holy person.

I find this incongruity in piety and reality an enlightening and humanizing feature of this human voice of God. Elpoca's comment was completely on the mark in this respect. (Or is dying for one's beliefs what is asked of someone else within a religious corporationorganization?)
posted by Rothko at 11:30 AM on July 27, 2005


There may have been popes with bad moral characters, but none of them taught heresy.

Ah, I see. If a pope of bad moral character teaches bad morals then it's both without error, and official church policy?...

Also, seen as how the Pope is the ultimate authority on the scripture, he can interpret it any way he chooses, and Catholics must accept and follow his interpretation. So it's nonsense to suggest that he's only wrong if he says something in "direct contradiction to existent scripture".

Furthermore, asking someone of 14 years of age, even 17, to choose to die is still a disgusting thing to do.

What about someone being born into extreme poverty -- and dying because of it shortly thereafter -- because of a lack of birth control? That's all part of God's plan, of course...

It's confusing how followers of Catholic dogma can forgive the Pope for some rather significant indiscretions, while not extending the same benevolence to non-followers of Papal teachings.
posted by Elpoca at 11:42 AM on July 27, 2005


Ryvar, either be a man and apologize for your mistakes, or focus your attentions on other topics.

You were wrong about the basic fact at hand - the age at which he was pressed into service of Nazi Germany. Splitting hairs about what the name of the specific subdivision he was in does not magically make you right. Nor will it make your statement that a child could choose to die for a cause he doesn't understand less disgusting.

I'd ask for your apology again, but you won't ever admit that you're wrong, so what would be the point?

Or is dying for one's beliefs what is asked of someone else within a religious corporationorganization?

Of course it is. That's yet another reason why religion is a pile of shit. Why do you seem to assume that I in any way supporting religion? I am simply saying that within the context of Ratzinger's belief system his response was correct, because the scripture that his religion is supposedly drawn from states that it was. I don't really give one way or the other whether women become priests or not, because it seems illogical for me to support what I see as a celebration of ignorance.

My only other point this entire conversation was that if one is to believe in the Christian God once must accept Biblical inerrancy, which I knew wouldn't be a popular one.
posted by Ryvar at 11:55 AM on July 27, 2005


Well, to be fair, it wouldn't exactly be choosing to die, would it? It would be choosing to be sent to a concentration camp, right? And the Official Party Line for the past 60 years has been "We didn't know they were death camps", wasn't it?
posted by kafziel at 11:59 AM on July 27, 2005


You were wrong about the basic fact at hand - the age at which he was pressed into service of Nazi Germany. Splitting hairs about what the name of the specific subdivision he was in does not magically make you right. Nor will it make your statement that a child could choose to die for a cause he doesn't understand less disgusting.

Ryvar, your arrogant, weasel-like backpedaling in the face of continuous evidence to the contrary is disgusting and intellectually dishonest.

I'm not holding my breath, but I'm still waiting for your apology, both for deliberately persisting in your factual errors and in your unprovoked, unwarranted personal attack.

I'd ask for your apology again, but you won't ever admit that you're wrong, so what would be the point?

Your hubris is outstanding, in spite of everything I've cited. Still, I'm here any time you want to apologize. Until that time, I'm through wasting my time with someone who has shown himself as dishonest as you.
posted by Rothko at 12:04 PM on July 27, 2005


How about you guys both hold your breath, and the first one to pass out has to apologize? (Honestly Rothko, it's hard to take you seriously on the topic of apologies, having witnessed the Events of 1/4.)

Thanks for your detailed doctrinal explanations earlier in the thread, Ryvar. If you read MetaFilter too much, it's easy to forget that a belief system can have some logical consistency even if, ultimately, the premise is rejected.
posted by Galvatron at 12:33 PM on July 27, 2005


Leave it alone, Alex. If you believe that you've won, win graciously. If you realize that it's a petty argument and you're pressing for an apology to avoid doing so yourself, now would be a good time to let it drop.
posted by klangklangston at 12:35 PM on July 27, 2005




let's just all agree that benny's days in the hitler youth were crazy times and leave it at that.
posted by subclub at 2:39 PM on July 27, 2005


In the matter of rothko v. ryvar. Guys...stop. Really. It's embarrassing.

Say what you want about about bad decisions and terrible choices that some of us have the misfortune of having to make in life. But when an individual does not learn from their grim experience--demonstrated by one's actions or record of decisions--now that is something that is quite deserving of comment and consideration. And when that person is elected Pope and goes on exhibiting a consistently rigid and deeply flawed sense of fairness and justice...well that's deserving of a Mefi thread.

I regret that this thread has fallen off the rails somewhat, but I sure learned a few things, thanks to the many intelligent, thoughtful comments I've read. It'll be interesting to see how--and how quickly--the Vatican responds to St. Lawrence Nine.
posted by runningdogofcapitalism at 2:45 PM on July 27, 2005


For the record, Popes go to confession, and it is specifically taught that they do in fact sin and make mistakes. It is even acknowledged (at least by the Catholic priest who explained it to me) that there have been some downright bad Popes. I'm going to go stand on the Pedestal of +5 Moral High Ground until somebody apologizes to me too....for something. I forget.
posted by SomeOneElse at 3:52 PM on July 27, 2005


"St. Lawrence Nine?" Isn't that a tad presumptuous?
posted by Galvatron at 5:09 PM on July 27, 2005


I found it easier to write than the-women-with-bad-prose-and-homemade-robes-who-were-ordained-as-priests-and-deacons-and-might-soon-face-excommunication.

C'mon. Loosen up.
posted by runningdogofcapitalism at 6:20 PM on July 27, 2005


Loosening up would run counter to the scripture-based inerrancy of buttclenching.
posted by Ryvar at 6:40 PM on July 27, 2005


Man, I was totally loose. You may recall that I was having difficulty feeling outraged. Then you had to go and WIDEN MY BROWSER WINDOW.

*clenches*
posted by Galvatron at 7:04 PM on July 27, 2005


Heh...even I am feeling outraged now. Ten more posts and I crack 100 comments. There's a free toaster oven waiting for me...I just know it.
posted by runningdogofcapitalism at 8:18 PM on July 27, 2005


From Adam’s rib
God made a chick;
Now women’s lib
has a bone to pick.


The Church's quib
is she has no dick.
posted by msjen at 11:44 PM on July 27, 2005


Surely you don't expect the church to evolve?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:03 AM on July 29, 2005


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