among the most conservative of men

The Irish Times’ Religious Affairs Correspondent, Patsy McGarry, has a interesting article on the views of Pope Benedict XVI in which he argues “The present incumbent of St Peter’s chair is among the most conservative of men to become Pope in modern times.” The focus is on the expected introduction of new rules on who should be eligible for the priesthood, but other stated views of former-Cardinal Ratzinger, as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, are worth noting.

As Patsy McGarry says in his Irish Times article

it is hard to see how this man as Pope can escape the straitjacket he created for himself and his papacy through his work as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He held the position from November 1981 until his election as Pope.

Arising from that legacy, some things are self-evident where this papacy is concerned.

Those self-evident things, according to McGarry, are –

There will be no change in the rule on clerical celibacy. There will be no discussion, even, on the issue of women priests. There will be no tolerance of inquiring/dissident theologians – even if he met Hans Küng recently.

There will be no, more embracing interpretation of scripture on issues of gender, sexuality, justice, relations with other Christian denominations, relations with other religions, and those of no religion at all.

Rather, there will be much emphasis on “respecting and accepting difference”. As prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in his Dominus Iesus document of 2000, he made clear just what that involves.

As a Protestant it means you must accept that in the eyes of the Catholic Church you do not belong to a church at all. Yours is an “ecclesial community”. Your priests are not real priests, and your communion is not real communion.

His views as Cardinal have resurfaced, according to Patsy McGarry, in his speeches as Pope –

But at an ecumenical meeting in Cologne on August 19th, Benedict began with a greeting to “the representatives of the other churches and ecclesial communities”. The “churches” he referred to were the Orthodox, while “the ecclesial communities” were the Protestants.

Either the deep offence this denigration causes to Protestants has not been adequately conveyed to him, or he is indifferent to it.

It is difficult, however, to conclude that he is not aware of it.

And if that causes offence, consider the views of the now-Pope Benedict XVI on other religions –

Where other religions are concerned, this accepting and respecting of difference means living with the Vatican view that as a Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, etc, you are in “a gravely deficient situation”, according to Dominus Iesus.

In 1997 Cardinal Ratzinger even described Buddhism an “auto-erotic spirituality”. Hinduism, he said then, was based on a “morally cruel” concept of reincarnation resembling “a continuous circle of hell”.

You could be worse off. You could be a secularist, of which there is only one rung lower.

In his homily at Mass in St Peter’s on April 18th, just before the conclave which elected him Pope began, Benedict warned against the “dictatorship of relativism”, which he said recognised nothing as definite and for which the ultimate measure was simply one’s own self and its desires.

It was an attack on, and misrepresentation of, secular humanism. Secular humanism does not promote selfishness, which is no more acceptable to the secularist than it is to the religious believer.

Finally, on the expected introduction of new regulations on who should be eligible for the priesthood –

Now it appears he is about to ban gay men – even if celibate – from training for the priesthood.

A Vatican document on the matter is expected to be approved by him at the end of October.

As Patsy McGarry says –

Many would hold that at the root of all of this is a deeply-flawed thinking which strips people of their humanity, reducing them to a “disorder”. It seems more barely-masked prejudice than truth.

The Catholic Church should know better. It has had similar experience with another minority.

Up to 1962, and despite the Holocaust, it retained the phase “perfidious (treacherous) Jews” in its Good Friday liturgy.

And he ends by making a prediction –

The day will yet come when a pope will beg forgiveness for the church’s treatment of gay people.

A pope may yet remember, at Auschwitz or elsewhere, the gay people who died in Nazi concentration camps, and a pope may acknowledge how the church’s teaching on homosexuality down the millennia helped validate the persecution of gay people.

And words such as “disorder” and “evil” will join “perfidious” as exiles from the Vatican’s lexicon.

But not during this papacy.

NB I’m leaving comments open for now.. and the thread will remain open as long as the comments play the ball

  • missfitz

    The hard and brutal reality is that most people who consider themselves Catholic, fail to meet most of the basic tenets for that organisation.

    With the widespread adoption of “a la carte” Catholicism, it became apparently acceptable that as long as you declared yourself catholic, then so it was.

    The new Pope has made it clear that he would prefer to weed out those non-conforming among the congregations, and focus on a church with a core membership of strictly adherent faithful.

    I recall being in Lourdes once, and confiding to a priest a number of things that were “non-comlinat”. He happily told me that as long as I was seeking and achieving personal satisfaction, then there was nothing to worry about.

    I cannot see that attitiude surviving in the Church as seen by Benedict

  • smcgiff

    ‘I cannot see that attitiude surviving in the Church as seen by Benedict’

    Don’t worry – I don’t see Benedict surviving long.

  • Henry94

    missfitz

    I agree. I think Benedict XI will make people choose thus ending up with a smaller but more united Church.

    My own personal hope is that he allows for a more widespread use of the beautiful Latin Mass.

  • smcgiff

    ‘I think Benedict XI will make people choose’

    As it stands, a Catholic can’t even become un-Catholic (you know what I mean!) in the eyes of the church, so it’d be a bit of a seachange.

    As the saying goes, once a Catholic…

  • missfitz

    Henry
    I think your wish has already been fulfilled. I recall recently hearing that he has given the Tridentine rites his full approval.

  • Ciarán Irvine

    As a Protestant it means you must accept that in the eyes of the Catholic Church you do not belong to a church at all. Yours is an “ecclesial community”. Your priests are not real priests, and your communion is not real communion.

    Either the deep offence this denigration causes to Protestants has not been adequately conveyed to him, or he is indifferent to it.

    I think the logic here is a bit confused…

    Surely pretty much every Christian denomination considers themselves to be the One True Church and that all the others are at the very least “in error”? Some of the more fundamentalist Protestant sects say some pretty hair-raising things about the fate awaiting the servants of the AntiChrist. Well, if you believe any of that stuff, which I don’t. But anyway.

    Why would it be “offensive” to a Protestant to hear that the Christian sect which (by definition) they particularly reject doesn’t consider them members of the club? Seems odd to me.

    “I belong to a different sect and think your sect is completely wrong, but I want to cry when you say mean things about me, you servant of Satan!”

    Why would a real Protestant want to seek validation from a church that they believe is at best deeply misguided?

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Given the recent appalling scandals and cover-ups exposing the corruption of RC church heirarchy from top to bottom, we might have expected a little humility from his papishness, but he’s obviously intent on carrying on his control-freakery as if nothing had happened.
    Sadly for Roman Catholics in general, the entire organisation is rapidly fading into irrelevancy with priest recruitment and mass attendance in freefall, while most modern catholics operate the ‘pick-n-mix’ faith detailed above.
    Perhaps his holiness should be grateful that the church has even survived what would have been a death-blow to virtually any other organisation, and attempt to bring his dwindling flock into the 21st century.
    As a practicing agnostic, I find it deeply depressing that as one ‘faith’ system (Christianity) takes a dip, the even less tolerant creed of Islam is on the up. Can anyone explain why otherwise sensible people have this lemming-like need to be led by the nose by deranged clerics spouting fairy tales?

  • criostoir

    Surely pretty much every Christian denomination considers themselves to be the One True Church and that all the others are at the very least “in error”?

    Unitarians generally believe that while there is one fundamental “truth” no science, religion or philosophy has the monopoly of it. They’re considered a liberal non-conformist christian church (although the traditional anti-trinitarian foundation for the church requires a flexible use of the “christian” tag).

  • Gum

    Gerry lvs Castro,

    firstly, Pope Benedict is the leader of the church throughout the world. It may face falling numbers of priests, and much smaller church attendances in western Europe, but in Asia and especially in Africa the numbers of men applying to join the priesthood are rising rapidly and church attendance is very strong.

    Secondly, Islam is not an intolerant faith. Just like Christianity, it can and will be interpreted in such a way as to cause great suffering and to spread intolerance. And just like Christianity, it will also inspire others to go out and love and help their fellow man.

    Anything can be read any two ways. Just because this is so doesnt make it bad or evil in itself

  • Robert Keogh

    Oh my god *YAWN*

    The only people in Ireland that pay any heed to the Catholic hierarchy or the Pope are geriatrics and unionists.

    1982 is a long, long, long time ago and unionists who believe they are scoring points against their opponents by raising Papal conservatism are only making fools of themselves – their opponents don’t give a toss.

  • missfitz

    I think I now understand ball not man, at last.

    Robert, I thought we were having a general discussion on the article in question, and to be honest, its a subject that really interests me, and I thought it held the promise of a good debate on the state of the church in modern times.

    I think you have debased the argument to one of simple point scoring- ie the Prods have introduced this discussion to see who is the more MOPEd amongst us.

    Maybe it wouldnt be so (yawn) boring, if you took a real interest in the subject and refrained from facile arguments

  • criostoir

    I remember hearing a chap describing openess in religious philosophy by explaining what the average Irish person thinks happens to someone when they die. The answer is of course all three of a) they go to heaven, b) nothing, they rot in the ground and c) if you don’t bury the buggers deep enough they’ll come back and get ye.

    I agree absolutely.

  • Brian Boru

    While nominally Catholic, I don’t actually have any interest at all in religion, and this particular Pope only confirms me in this position. He is backward-looking, and he is not representative of most Irish Catholics that’s for sure.

  • criostoir

    There’s always the option of introducing some democracy into the irish catholic church and perhaps vesting religious authority in a local church parliament?

    hang on a minute. Havn’t I heard that before somewhere?

  • Chris Gaskin

    The reality is that most Irish Catholics, especially the youth, are closer to Protestantism in terms of their beliefs than the Vatican.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”Anything can be read any two ways. Just because this is so doesnt make it bad or evil in itself”

    Agreed Gum, but the holy books of Christianity & Islam are deliberately ambiguous and are tools of a system which is basically about control. The heirarchy of both faith systems manipulate the faithful/gullible for their own selfish ends of power/greed/perversion.
    To take an example — the RC doctrine on condoms serves absolutely no good end whatsoever — it kills literally millions of the faithful/gullible in Africa through the spread of aids and through unsustainably large families.
    Both the bible and the koran are open to wide interpretation and are basically modelling clay in the hands of religious zealots intent on imposing their particular brand of misery on those deluded enough to follow them.

    ”And just like Christianity, it will also inspire others to go out and love and help their fellow man.”

    The idea that reading a lot of archaic mumbo-jumbo and praying in a particular direction is somehow going to turn people into saintly do-gooders is a quaint one to say the least. Britain and France are essentially secularist countries, while Northern Ireland and the US are not. I’ll let you pick which of these four is the greed-obsessed, war-mongering super-power and which is the squabbling, bigoted cauldron of violent sectarianism.
    Exactly why people feel the need for a deity and then slavishly follow someone else’s ridiculous rules about it remains a mystery, but it’s something the rest of us have to live with. Just don’t try to pretend that religion’s good points ever come close to equalling it’s bad.

  • criostoir

    Here’s an open question on the subject of bigotry. Why here? Why now? Sometimes you’re too close to a problem to wonder where it came from. We just take it for granted that the planters got off the boat in Donaghadee in 1602 full of prejudice, like some kind of tartan jihadis. But if that’s the case where did they get such bile. What events took place in Scotland in the 16th century that had them so worked up?

    I have to confess that my knowledge of Ulster-Scot / plantation history is pretty much zero. We learnt none of it at school – perhaps because of a misguided attempt at educating us to be some kind of liberal vanilla Briton.

    That’s one reason why I welcome the Ulster-Scots revival, fabricated or not. I think it offers an opportunity to take a look at the diversity of the tradition. The official US site refers to US particpiation in the United Irishmen and a piece of tourist info I picked up on great Ulster-Scots tells the story of Betsy Gray, who was killed because of her role in the 1798 rising so it’s not all “Unionist”.

  • Brian Boru

    “Here’s an open question on the subject of bigotry. Why here? Why now? Sometimes you’re too close to a problem to wonder where it came from. We just take it for granted that the planters got off the boat in Donaghadee in 1602 full of prejudice, like some kind of tartan jihadis. But if that’s the case where did they get such bile. What events took place in Scotland in the 16th century that had them so worked up?”

    Well, anti-Catholic bigotry was really extreme in Britain in the 17th century so I suppose the planters brought those prejudices with them.

  • Shay Begorrah

    Ratzy is hopefully a short term Pope but he had already done his worst injury to Catholicism before he was pontifised by energetically rooting out liberation theology from the Church while he was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (he had no problem, of course, with anti-communism).

    As an atheist (none of this weak wristed agnosticism) I welcome Ratzy – he will hopefully contribute to the general fall in the proportion of people in the West who are religious/spiritual/irrational.

  • peteb

    Actually B. Boru,

    In the 17th Century the prejudice, of power, switched between Catholic and Protestant, and back again, frequently.. indeed, that was a major part of the problem at the time.

  • criostoir

    Hence the fear in prod race memory?

    They’ll burn us at the stake if they get the chance!

    No surrender!

    It does seem odd that republicanism’s reponse to this fear was the bomb and burn the feckers. Seems a bit counter productive.

  • ch in dallas

    “As an atheist (none of this weak wristed agnosticism) I welcome Ratzy – he will hopefully contribute to the general fall in the proportion of people in the West who are religious/spiritual/irrational.”

    At least, SB, I know where you’re coming from. Your hope for the demise of the 2,000 year old Church of the God-Made-Man is comical. The reason the Church opposed communist is that it had as a rainson d’etre the elimination of God to present itself as a god. You may hope, but Stalin tried, and how did it go now, how many divisions had the Pope?

    However, no one really played the ball here. Benedict XVI really follows in the footsteps of JP II of Blessed Memory. All this about him being the German Shepherd ect is really rubbish. I have read a few of his books, and he is really a brilliant theologan. What really riles people up is that the Pope is Catholic, and believes that the Church is the body of Christ, and is there to guide the faithful. True, it’s no democracy, as Henry VIII found out.

    As to ecumenism, Benedict feels that what we can do to bring all of the followers of Christ back into one body, is worth exploring. To those who don’t know the Saviour, we should present the Good News. To those who reject Him, we should show respect, to love them as He loves us, but not water down our beliefs in order to “get along.”

    Please note that I’m not preaching here. I’m the least worthy of His followers. This thread however needed some balance.

    I will now chant in Latin and go to bed. Agnus Dei…………….

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”As an atheist (none of this weak wristed agnosticism) I welcome Ratzy – he will hopefully contribute to the general fall in the proportion of people in the West who are religious/spiritual/irrational.”

    Professing to be an atheist Shay, means that you are 100% CERTAIN that there is no such thing as a deity in existence. In this particular realm, there can, by definition, be no such thing as a certainty. The agnostic approaches the subject from the view-point that the existence of any God-figure can neither be proved nor disproved. For any belief (or dis-belief) system to be morally valid, it must first accept that ALL belief systems are necessarily equal, as they are entirely a matter of faith/imagination/indoctrination and cannot be proved. Therefore the atheist viewpoint is as intolerant as the RC or Muslim one.
    Your optimism concerning the population becoming less spiritual is sadly ill-founded. Religious belief is hard-wired in the vast majority of humanity, and as our dallas friend points out, the great communist/atheist experiment failed miserably. The need for the ‘deity crutch’ is as basic as the need for food or sex, and if the RC church were to disappear beneath the waves tomorrow, some equally abhorrent regime would surface the day after. The best that we secularists can do is attempt to control the more ridiculous ventings of religious delusion, eg puritanical views on abortion & gays, insistence on covering women in a sheet, mad rantings against evolution etc.

  • Henry94

    One weekness I have noticed on talkboards is the impossibility of having a discussion on any single aspect of religion. Any mention of the subject draws atheists and agnostics like moths to a flame in their zeal to promote their convictions.

    As John Waters once observed these people have deeply satisfying spiritual lives based on their particular certainties.

    The paradox is that if religion was removed from the world they would miss it as much as the rest of us.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”The paradox is that if religion was removed from the world they would miss it as much as the rest of us.”

    Nah Henry we’d just find something else to moan about.
    Just think if the Irish question was solved to everyone’s satisafaction tomorrow, Slugger would be all about dog dirt on the pavement and leaves on the line. To quote the great Johnny Rotten; ‘No Fun.’

  • smcgiff

    You speak the truth Brother Gerry.

  • TOT

    to complain about leave on the line we need a train network in the first place.

    dog dirt on the pavement, sure there is a theological argument in there somewhere.

  • Keith M

    And this year’s award for the most offensive genalisation (sponsored by the blind leading the blind society of Ireland goes to “As John Waters once observed these people have deeply satisfying spiritual lives based on their particular certainties. The paradox is that if religion was removed from the world they would miss it as much as the rest of us.”

    This is a bit like saying that vegetarians would miss meat if it disappeared from all menus.

  • Ringo

    The paradox is that if religion was removed from the world they would miss it as much as the rest of us.

    Isn’t there a big difference between religion and God? No one doubts the existence of religion, just the existence of God. So the two things, a) the absence of religion and b)proof that there is no God, are unrelated.

  • Henry94

    And this year’s award for the most offensive genalisation

    Offensive to whom? Agnostics as a minority group? Or just those for whom the cap fits.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”Offensive to whom? Agnostics as a minority group? Or just those for whom the cap fits.”

    It’s strange Henry, but I don’t feel offended at all. Unlike Christian & Muslim ‘scholars’ who base a career on being purveyors of dogmatic nonsense, agnostics are remarkably difficult to offend.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”I have read a few of his (the pope’s) books, and he is really a brilliant theologan.”

    And Matthew Hopkins was a brilliant witch-finder, arguing from exactly the same biblical texts. Does this make him the patron saint of dogmatic nonsense for sadistic ends?

    ”What really riles people up is that the Pope is Catholic, and believes that the Church is the body of Christ, and is there to guide the faithful.”

    No what really riles people up is that the Pope presides over perhaps the most historically corrupt organisation on this planet, yet still has the gall to condemn contraception, homosexuality and women’s rights, just for starters. My understanding of Jesus teaching is that he advocated tolerance and forgiveness — two qualities in conspicuous absence in any of the Christian sects, and particularly so in the case of the Vatican.

    ”True, it’s no democracy, as Henry VIII found out.”

    We agree on that one CH.

  • red kangaroo

    “Now it appears he is about to ban gay men – even if celibate – from training for the priesthood.”

    As a majority of priests and brothers I know are gay, that looks like the end of the priesthood in my city – unless he relents on women priests and married priests

  • ch in dallas

    ”What really riles people up is that the Pope is Catholic, and believes that the Church is the body of Christ, and is there to guide the faithful.”
    Answer
    “No what really riles people up is that the Pope presides over perhaps the most historically corrupt organisation on this planet”

    Gerry, So what you’re saying it that what really, really riles people up is that there is A Catholic Church to begin with. Not a worry for us, the Master warned that as the world hated Him, so it will hate us.

    But really now, this is not the ball to be played. I agree with Henry 94 that this might not be the best place to weigh the pros or cons of a particular pontiff.

    Red Kangaroo, My condolences to Australia for any loss in the recent Bali bombings. ch

  • red kangaroo

    Dallas
    “Red Kangaroo, My condolences to Australia for any loss in the recent Bali bombings. ch”

    I thank you for your thoughts. Terrorism such as this against ordinary working people and their families is nothing but fascist. (That’s why regardless of my views on British rule in Ireland I could not support the IRA actions.)

    However in the context of this thread, unfortunately the Bali bombings are a shining example of religious fundamentalism and obsolutes.

    Persoanlly as a non practising Catholic I don’t care what rules the Pope sets down for practicing Catholics. He is the head of the church thats his role. My problem is when religion attempts to enforce clerical or biblical law onto secular society/ Abortion , gay rights, drinking on sundays, wearing a veil, growing a beard etc. etc.

    The Pope can put what ever laws he wants in place for the devout, as can Ian Paisley, the Queen of England or any other religious leader, just leave me out of it.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”Not a worry for us, the Master warned that as the world hated Him, so it will hate us.”

    By the ‘master’, I assume you’re referring to Jesus Christ. If so, the RC church is a particularly poor comparison. It’s record on human rights in Ireland alone is appalling — it’s treatment of women is disgusting and it’s treatment of children is unspeakable. Even more appalling is the systematic cover-up of clerical abuse on a vast scale and over a prolonged period of time. How an organisation such as this can compare itself in any way to the essentially decent message of Christ beggars belief — how Ratzinger can have the nerve to condemn the rest of us as ‘being in a gravely deficient situation’ for not being RC is hubris at it’s richest.

    ”My problem is when religion attempts to enforce clerical or biblical law onto secular society/ Abortion , gay rights, drinking on sundays, wearing a veil, growing a beard etc. etc.”

    Well said Red Kangaroo — I also take your point on terrorism as manifested by religious fundamentalism — were it not for the forces of secularism we’d likely be facing an armageddon between the forces of Islam & Christianity.

  • ch in dallas

    Red Kangaroo, I appreciate your kind words and have no problem with any thing you have said. As a practicing Catholic myself, I never try to force my beliefs on anyone. This is not the Church of 500 years ago. The door swings both ways (if not the priests…Bless me father for I have sinned!) People really need to turn their attenions to parts of the world where they do execute gays, do have forced abortion, do put women in veils and whip them in the streets. All of this ain’t coming from the Vatican, but it could be coming to a town near you.

  • ch in dallas

    Gerry, When referring to the Master I do indeed refer to my Lord Jesus Christ. Does the Roman Catholic Church live up to His teachings at all times?. Hell no. I was educated by Irish nuns, so I know of what you speak. We are all less than perfect, but we get up each day and try to do our best, fail, ask for forgivness, and try better tomorrow. For an agnostic who is hard to offend, you seem to have a certain animus for the Catholic Church, which is your right. As for anyone doing misdeeds in His name, they will be dealt with by Him, and I’m sure in a way that we here could neither add to or subtract from.

  • red kangaroo

    Dallas
    “People really need to turn their attenions to parts of the world where they do execute gays, do have forced abortion, do put women in veils and whip them in the streets. All of this ain’t coming from the Vatican, but it could be coming to a town near you.”

    I know what your saying in a way. As a secular Catholic surrounded by a community of family and friends who are devout I am not at all worried by Catholic fundamentalism. I can only speak my experience of my Australian Catholic community and I can say they are not fundamentalists at all. In fact most Australian Catholics vote for the Labor Party and surveys in Australia show Catholic Australians are more liberal on most social issues that their protestant neighbours.

    Catholics in Australia seem to have developed an inbuilt bull shit filter regarding the teachings of the church. That’s why even someone like me can have so much respect for Pope JP2 as a world leader but not agree with alot of his pronouncements. I and most of my left wing friends felt a loss when he passed away. I have no doubt he was a decent man with a fantasisc intellect. What more can we ask for?

  • ch in dallas

    Red Kangaroo, I think the same could be said for the American Catholic community. More Catholics here vote Democrat than Republican. I’m the odd man out there. Both you and I are lucky in that we live in lands without religious and sectarian strife.
    I agree that the world is poorer for the loss of John Paul II. When he came to the States, millions would flock to him, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. That’s a test of his universal appeal. And he showed us how to die as well. His last years were a testament to me because of his shaking. I was born with a tremor in my hands. That’s why my posts seem to be short. JP II had more dignity, standing their shaking, than all the choirs of angels or saints, IMHO.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”For an agnostic who is hard to offend, you seem to have a certain animus for the Catholic Church, which is your right.”

    Fair comment CH — you sound like a reasonable sort of person, as are most of the RC members I have encountered down the years. Sadly you are ill-served by your church heirarchy, an unfortunate by-product of the lack of democracy you mentioned earlier.
    As regards my attitude to the RC church — I don’t like to discriminate — were this a thread about Protestant or Islamic Fundamentalists, my comments would be no kinder.
    Religious belief, however ridiculous it may seem to some, should be entirely a matter between the person and his/her chosen deity. Religious rules based on dubious interpretations of ancient manuscripts are merely tools of control and oppression.
    The essential message of Christ as far as I can ascertain was one of love, compassion, tolerance and forgiveness — whether you study Roman Catholic or Protestant history, it’s well difficult to find any.

  • red kangaroo

    Gerry “Fair comment CH — you sound like a reasonable sort of person, as are most of the RC members I have encountered down the years. Sadly you are ill-served by your church heirarchy, an unfortunate by-product of the lack of democracy you mentioned earlier.”

    I agree with most of what you say re religion however I am puzzled as why you think religion should be democratic. If people want to follow teachings then let them follow it. My arguement is dont legislate it.

    With all due respect to my religious friends, I really don’t care if Catholic priests are men,women, married or whatever. I dont care if Ian Paisley has anal sex on a Sunday. I just dont want these people to legislate their strange theories over how I live my life.

    Also, why would a normal gay person want to belong to any of these sects?

  • ch in dallas

    “The essential message of Christ as far as I can ascertain was one of love, compassion, tolerance and forgiveness — whether you study Roman Catholic or Protestant history, it’s well difficult to find any”

    Gerry, I agree with this, and it is incumbant upon Christians to try to do better. I also agree that sometimes we Christians are ill-served by our heirarchy. We U.S. Catholics are a particularly independant bunch, and I think tend to vex the Holy See. For instance “Catholics for Abortion.” The Church must step in and instruct the faithful that one cannot hold these mutually exculsive positions. Either you hold to the church teaching about the dignaty of the human person from the moment of conception or you don’t. You’re free to hold either.

    Red Kangaroo, I too could care less about the marital status of a priest as well. I don’t know what you mean about legislating things. The Church here is neutral about that. If you mean abortion, I vote my conscience.

    A good blog from a gay catholic is Andrew Sullivan here in the States. I assume that he remains Catholic because during the long night of the dark soul he, like me, cries out “Abba” “Father!!” as did our Lord.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”I agree with most of what you say re religion however I am puzzled as why you think religion should be democratic.”

    The same reason that any institution should be democratic kanga — it helps to prevent absolute power resting in the hands of any one individual or governing body and ensures that the institution is representative of the majority of it’s members rather than a narrow-minded clique.
    The fact that members such as yourself and CH hold views in direct divergence with RC teaching as regards gays, women priests etc, merely illustrates a church in fragmentation and an institution in dire need of some accountability to it’s flock.
    Ratzinger appears hell-bent on rooting out your particular brand of heresy CH, so perhaps you should follow your own conscience & decide your own spiritual rules rather than let an archaic irrelevancy of a church decide them for you.

  • ch in dallas

    “Ratzinger appears hell-bent on rooting out your particular brand of heresy CH, so perhaps you should follow your own conscience & decide your own spiritual rules rather than let an archaic irrelevancy of a church decide them for you.”

    I’m not sure to what heresy you refer to Gerry. The abortion thing? I do not support abortion. When I said I vote my conscience, I vote pro-life, but my vote has nothing to do with church hierarchy.

    “The fact that members such as yourself and CH hold views in direct divergence with RC teaching as regards gays, women priests etc, merely illustrates a church in fragmentation and an institution in dire need of some accountability to it’s flock.”

    No, it shows diversity of opinion. You are confusing core issues with ones that Catholics have freedom of opinion on. Red has said he is a secular Catholic anyway. I’m practising.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    CH: To quote from the original thread:

    ”There will be no more embracing interpretation of scripture on issues of gender, sexuality, justice, relations with other Christian denominations, relations with other religions, and those of no religion at all.”

    You may have ‘freedom of opinion’ on these and other issues CH, but if the hierarchy of your church rule that abortion, contraception and homosexuality are absolutely wrong in all circumstances, then you are not, by definition, a proper practicing catholic if you refuse to follow these basic rules, however archaic and downright wrong they may be. I suspect that myself and Mr.Ratzinger may actually be in agreement on this one. To quote missfitz in the very first post above:

    ”The new Pope has made it clear that he would prefer to weed out those non-conforming among the congregations, and focus on a church with a core membership of strictly adherent faithful.”

    If you are not in full agreement with the pope’s stated beliefs, then he would rather you left.
    This is what I mean by fragmentation. No organisation can thrive if it’s followers refuse to adhere to it’s basic tenets, and the number of young men entering the priesthood (who must all be straight, celibate and unmarried a la 17th century) will dwindle even further. How can a priest act on orders from the top when they are being widely ignored at the bottom?
    Likewise why would anyone choose to join a church which has little or no relevancy to their own views or daily lifestyle? If you want to play tennis do you join a chess club?
    For Catholicism (in the west at least) the only way is down and the dinosaurs in the vatican have only themselves to blame.

  • ch in dallas

    Gerry, The quote from the original thread was opinion stated by the author of the piece. You seem to give it the weight of a quote from the lips of His Holiness Benedict XVI, elected successor to the Throne of St. Peter, Servant of the Servants of God, there through the will of the Holy Spirit (or as you say, Mr. Ratzinder).

    You are right in saying that Western Europe anyway, is a Christian desert, with empty cathedrals and full mosques. Not so here.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”elected successor to the Throne of St. Peter, Servant of the Servants of God, there through the will of the Holy Spirit (or as you say, Mr. Ratzinder).”

    ”elected” by a bunch of geriatric cronyist cardinals answerable to no-one but themselves. As for the ‘will of the holy spirit’, who can forget the startlingly brief reign of John Paul 2’s predecessor? Perhaps the holy spirit changed his/her mind on that one?

    ”You are right in saying that Western Europe anyway, is a Christian desert, with empty cathedrals and full mosques. Not so here.”

    Yes indeed Christianity has certainly enhanced the US — give the fundamentalists (note the word ‘mental’ tellingly concealed in this word) half a chance and they’ll be having gays flogged, back-street abortionists back in business, scientists sacked for contradicting the creationist myth and every school stuffed full of theological mumbo-jumbo a la RC schooling.
    Only today we hear claims that Rev Bush himself was ‘told by God’ to invade Afghanistan and Iraq — a lot of people have been sectioned under the mental health act for hearing voices — this guy apparently invaded two countries and slaughtered thousands of innocents on the word of the big man himself. Perhaps our ‘Christian desert’ isn’t such a bad thing after all.

  • ch in dallas

    Gerry, If you seriously believe that Palestinian quoted in the Gaurdian about what Mr. Bush said, you’re thinking is a bit skewed.

    You’re live and let live veneer of being an agnostic is starting to fray.

    As for the rest of your post, I will let it speak for itself.

    We should probably give it a rest mate, as we are both going to go seriously ad homini. Amen

  • Henry94

    ch

    Somebody once said that when people stop believing in God they don’t believe nothing rather they’ll believe anything.

    I think believing today’s Guardian report falls neatly into that category.

  • Robert Keogh

    Those who can, think. Those who can’t, believe.

    Somebody once said that when people stop believing in God they don’t believe nothing rather they’ll believe anything.

    The logic in your paraphrasing is inverted – someone who believes in a diety has demonstrated that they will believe anything without proof.

  • peteb

    Henry

    In re to the quote

    Should be as GK Chesterton was supposed to have said. Seemingly, the nearest quote to be found from Chesterton is –

    “It’s the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense and can’t see things as they are.”

  • ch in dallas

    Thank you henry94 and peteb. Peteb, excellent link. I’m beginning to see NI’s problems on a more gut level!