Who Can Mock the Catholic Church?

Discuss whatever you want here ... movies, books, recipes, politics, beer, wine, TV ... everything except classical music.

Moderators: Lance, Corlyss_D

Post Reply
Madame
Posts: 3552
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 2:56 am

Who Can Mock the Catholic Church?

Post by Madame » Sun May 02, 2010 8:28 am

By Nicholas D. Kristof
Op-Ed Columnist

Maybe the Catholic Church should be turned upside down.

Jesus wasn’t known for pontificating from palaces, covering up scandals, or issuing Paleolithic edicts on social issues. Does anyone think he would have protected clergymen who raped children?

Yet if the top of the church has strayed from its roots, much of its base is still deeply inspiring. I came here to impoverished southern Sudan to write about Sudanese problems, not the Catholic Church’s. Yet once again, I am awed that so many of the selfless people serving the world’s neediest are lowly nuns and priests — notable not for the grandeur of their vestments but for the grandness of their compassion.

As I’ve noted before, there seem to be two Catholic Churches, the old boys’ club of the Vatican and the grass-roots network of humble priests, nuns and laity in places like Sudan. The Vatican certainly supports many charitable efforts, and some bishops and cardinals are exemplary, but overwhelmingly it’s at the grass roots that I find the great soul of the Catholic Church.

The Vatican believes that this newspaper and other news organizations have been unfair and overzealous in excavating the church’s cover-ups of child rape. I see the opposite. No organization has done more to elevate the moral stature of the Catholic Church in the United States than The Boston Globe. Its groundbreaking 2002 coverage of abuse by priests led to reforms and by most accounts a significant reduction in abuse. Catholic kids are safer today not because of the cardinals’ leadership, but because of The Boston Globe’s.

Yet the church leaders are right about one thing: there is often a liberal and secular snobbishness toward the church as a whole — and that is unfair.

It may be easy at a New York cocktail party to sniff derisively at a church whose apex is male chauvinist, homophobic and so out of touch that it bars the use of condoms even to curb AIDS. But what about Father Michael Barton, a Catholic priest from Indianapolis? I met Father Michael in the remote village of Nyamlell, 150 miles from any paved road here in southern Sudan. He runs four schools for children who would otherwise go without an education, and his graduates score at the top of statewide examinations.

Father Michael came to southern Sudan in 1978 and chatters fluently in Dinka and other local languages. To keep his schools alive, he persevered through civil war, imprisonment and beatings, and a smorgasbord of disease. “It’s very normal to have malaria,” he said. “Intestinal parasites — that’s just normal.”

Father Michael may be the worst-dressed priest I’ve ever seen — and the noblest.

Anybody scorn him? Anybody think he’s a self-righteous hypocrite?

On the contrary, he would make a great pope.

In the city of Juba, I met Cathy Arata, a nun from New Jersey who spent years working with battered women in Appalachia. Then she moved to El Salvador during the brutal civil war there, putting her life on the line to protect peasants. Two years ago, she came here on behalf of a terrific Catholic project called Solidarity With Southern Sudan.

Sister Cathy and the others in the project have trained 600 schoolteachers. They are fighting hunger not with handouts but with help for villagers to improve agricultural techniques. They are also establishing a school for health workers, with a special focus on midwifery to reduce deaths in childbirth.

At the hospital attached to that school, the surgeon is a nun from Italy. The other doctor is a 72-year-old nun from Rhode Island. Nuns rock.

Sister Cathy would like to see more decentralization in the church, a greater role for women, and more emphasis on public service. She says she worries sometimes that if Jesus returned he would say, “Oh, they got it all wrong!”

She would make a great pope, too.

There are so many more like them. There’s Father Mario Falconi, an Italian priest who refused to leave Rwanda during the genocide and bravely saved 3,000 people from being massacred. There’s Father Mario Benedetti, a 72-year-old Italian priest based in Congo who fled with his congregation when their town was attacked by a brutal militia. Now Father Mario lives side by side with his Congolese congregants in the squalor of a refugee camp in southern Sudan, struggling to get schooling for their children.

It’s because of brave souls like these that I honor the Catholic Church. I understand why many Americans disdain a church whose leaders are linked to cover-ups and antediluvian stances on women, gays and condoms — but the Catholic Church is far larger than the Vatican.

And unless we’re willing to endure beatings alongside Father Michael, unless we’re willing to stand up to warlords with Sister Cathy, we have no right to disparage them or their true church.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/02/opini ... istof.html

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26867
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Re: Who Can Mock the Catholic Church?

Post by jbuck919 » Sun May 02, 2010 2:55 pm

These people would make great popes? It seems to me that they have chosen their apostolates precisely to avoid having to deal in an apologistic way with their church being "male chauvinist, homophobic and so out of touch that it bars the use of condoms even to curb AIDS." Not to mention characterized by a clerical culture that fosters sexual abuse, so strict about abortion that it is not allowed to save the life of the mother, absolute in its condemnation of artificial contraception as a grave sin, and unable to accommodate within its communion even divorced and remarried people whose spouses abused or deserted them. Popes don't get to ignore these things; on the contrary, they are preoccupied with them.

The Catholic Church is lucky that it is so big both historically and ontologically that there are corners where one can hide from any uncomfortable issue. It is also blessed with a de facto latitudinarianism, though the institution would self-destruct if the hierarchy ever really took its efforts to stomp it out past lip service. Were this not the state of things, the Church would be irremediably identified with its peculiarities every bit as are sects like the Christian Scientists and the Jehovah's Witnesses.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

piston
Posts: 10767
Joined: Thu Jan 04, 2007 7:50 am

Re: Who Can Mock the Catholic Church?

Post by piston » Sun May 02, 2010 3:46 pm

I like the piece, Madame. I have known such devoted, passionate missionaries on a personal basis.

Nevertheless, I found a news report on NPR rather disturbing. I apologize for failing to remember the name of the psychiatrist in question but let us represent him as the expert on taking care of Catholic clergymen who have sought medical assistance about mental issues. He indicated that only a tiny minority, about two percent among hundreds of priests who have sought his assistance, were true celibates....

The very dedicated and active missionaries described in the above article offer one, more healthy and functional, perspective. The psychiatrist's numerous patients offer another.
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

Madame
Posts: 3552
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 2:56 am

Re: Who Can Mock the Catholic Church?

Post by Madame » Sun May 02, 2010 3:52 pm

I believe you missed the point of the columnist.
jbuck919 wrote:These people would make great popes? It seems to me that they have chosen their apostolates precisely to avoid having to deal in an apologistic way with their church being "male chauvinist, homophobic and so out of touch that it bars the use of condoms even to curb AIDS." Not to mention characterized by a clerical culture that fosters sexual abuse, so strict about abortion that it is not allowed to save the life of the mother, absolute in its condemnation of artificial contraception as a grave sin, and unable to accommodate within its communion even divorced and remarried people whose spouses abused or deserted them. Popes don't get to ignore these things; on the contrary, they are preoccupied with them.

The Catholic Church is lucky that it is so big both historically and ontologically that there are corners where one can hide from any uncomfortable issue. It is also blessed with a de facto latitudinarianism, though the institution would self-destruct if the hierarchy ever really took its efforts to stomp it out past lip service. Were this not the state of things, the Church would be irremediably identified with its peculiarities every bit as are sects like the Christian Scientists and the Jehovah's Witnesses.

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26867
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Re: Who Can Mock the Catholic Church?

Post by jbuck919 » Sun May 02, 2010 4:12 pm

Madame wrote:I believe you missed the point of the columnist.
I was answering the point of the columnist.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Brendan

Re: Who Can Mock the Catholic Church?

Post by Brendan » Sun May 02, 2010 6:14 pm

John's own fundamentalist religious inclinations towards Political Correctness and its bigotry against the Catholic Church is really rather tedious in its predictable stupidity and ignorance. The Catholic Church does not exist to promote PC causes or PC immorality. That it opposes certain PC attitudes is bound to raise the undying ire of fundamentalists such as John.

The Church is hardly the only institution infiltrated by paedophiles - but it's the one the PC fundies rant and rave about unceasingly. Why has abuse of children increased as Christian morality has decreased in its influence upon society? Did relaxing the standards for punishment and penance within the Church - in line with PC activism - and its Rule allow predators easy access?

That the extinction of innocent human life could be a moral absolute for some people is obviously beyond the feeble minds of such ignorant bigots.

The idea of sexual restraint, moral choice in sexual matters, awareness of the possibility of pregnancy as well as STDs is also obviously beyond the bestial nature and mentality of the PC crowd, who seem to believe people have the "right" to shove themselves up each other every which way without any sense of responsibility, let alone morality. That folk consider degenerate, perverted and unnatural sexual behaviour a "right" introduces more problems of the sexualization of children - which has accelerated since Christian morality faded from society - as well as being absurd.

John, you missed the point completely because of your own PC fundamentalism - which is utterly immoral and disgusting to some others as much as you revile the Holy Church. The idea of going to Sudan as means of moral escapism is the most stupid thing I've read since John's last tirade against the Church (or perhaps Saul's). Where are the PC activists in Sudan? Are they running schools and helping folk or are the New York PC set just raving their fashionable immoral garbage against folk actually improving the lives of poor folk in the real world?

But hating Catholics is the new fashion, so I expect it to continue unabated. Despising the heart and soul of Western civilization is ever so trendy.

piston
Posts: 10767
Joined: Thu Jan 04, 2007 7:50 am

Re: Who Can Mock the Catholic Church?

Post by piston » Sun May 02, 2010 6:27 pm

But hating Catholics is the new fashion, so I expect it to continue unabated. Despising the heart and soul of Western civilization is ever so trendy.
I have this theory that subjectivity is rooted in personal memory, for all of us, you, me, John, Madame, everybody!

My personal memories, as a 13 year-old on a Cree reservation in Alberta, command me to respect the work of some missionaries. That's the bottom line! I don't need to go to Sudan to understand what my memories will always inform me.

But other people have different memories. Perhaps hurtful. Informing them and prompting them to respond. I cannot hate anyone who, for whatever reason, has an issue with the Catholic Church. I will hold to my position, based on my experience, not on ideological heel planting.
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

Chosen Barley
Posts: 639
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2008 12:42 am
Location: Canada

Re: Who Can Mock the Catholic Church?

Post by Chosen Barley » Sun May 02, 2010 9:56 pm

The Catholic Church is a private club. If anyone is an unwilling member because he was baptized into the church shortly after birth, he is now free, as an adult, to leave that club. You can't complain endlessly about the terms of membership and still hang around and insist on having your way. You can't have it both ways. I left the club but the folks who still want to be members, it's fine with me.

The internal problems of the Church are nobody's business but the church members' and of the police if there has been a crime committed. The rest of you should worry about your own churches. And leave the Pope alone. If anything, I find him far too liberal. The Church is populated by countless evil, corrupt bishops who should have been kicked out of the Church a long time ago and I can't figure out why they haven't. Some of you may enjoy reading this site:

http://www.lifesitenews.com
STRESSED? Spell it backwards for the cure.

RebLem
Posts: 9117
Joined: Tue May 17, 2005 1:06 pm
Location: Albuquerque, NM, USA 87112, 2 blocks west of the Breaking Bad carwash.
Contact:

Re: Who Can Mock the Catholic Church?

Post by RebLem » Mon May 03, 2010 1:01 am

Brendan wrote:John's own fundamentalist religious inclinations towards Political Correctness and its bigotry against the Catholic Church is really rather tedious in its predictable stupidity and ignorance.
One begins to suspect you and DavidRoss are identical twins separated at birth.
Chosen Barley wrote:The Catholic Church is a private club. If anyone is an unwilling member because he was baptized into the church shortly after birth, he is now free, as an adult, to leave that club. You can't complain endlessly about the terms of membership and still hang around and insist on having your way. You can't have it both ways. I left the club but the folks who still want to be members, it's fine with me.

The internal problems of the Church are nobody's business but the church members' and of the police if there has been a crime committed. The rest of you should worry about your own churches. And leave the Pope alone. If anything, I find him far too liberal. The Church is populated by countless evil, corrupt bishops who should have been kicked out of the Church a long time ago and I can't figure out why they haven't.
Many Catholics who disagree with much of Church practice and doctrime don't leave the Church because the Church has convinced them of one thing: the Catholic Church is "the one true, holy, universal, and apostolic church." And when bishops and clergy urge them to leave, as I heard Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati do some time ago, they respond, "Nothing doing! I still believe, and I think the Church has lost its way. I'm staying, and I'm fighting."

This attitude has made the Catholic Church, IMO, the most American of churches. We only have two political parties of any significance, because most Americans have that same attitude about politics. Baptists, on the other hand, break off and form new congregations, and sometimes even new denominations, anytime they have the slightest disagreements about church policy. They do religion like the French and the Italians do politics.
Last edited by RebLem on Mon May 03, 2010 1:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
Don't drink and drive. You might spill it.--J. Eugene Baker, aka my late father
"We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term."--Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S. Carolina.
"Racism is America's Original Sin."--Francis Cardinal George, former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Chicago.

Madame
Posts: 3552
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 2:56 am

Re: Who Can Mock the Catholic Church?

Post by Madame » Mon May 03, 2010 1:19 am

piston wrote:
But hating Catholics is the new fashion, so I expect it to continue unabated. Despising the heart and soul of Western civilization is ever so trendy.
I have this theory that subjectivity is rooted in personal memory, for all of us, you, me, John, Madame, everybody!

My personal memories, as a 13 year-old on a Cree reservation in Alberta, command me to respect the work of some missionaries. That's the bottom line! I don't need to go to Sudan to understand what my memories will always inform me.

But other people have different memories. Perhaps hurtful. Informing them and prompting them to respond. I cannot hate anyone who, for whatever reason, has an issue with the Catholic Church. I will hold to my position, based on my experience, not on ideological heel planting.
Gosh. I thought this article was a recognition of those who serve at the 'grass roots' level of whatever church or other organization they're part of, be it in Sudan or Appalachia or wherever else there is a need. I see now that it triggered something something else for some readers.

Maybe I shoulda stayed on 'sabbatical' longer, between this and the Enquirer thread, I'm back on sensory overload! :)

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26867
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Re: Who Can Mock the Catholic Church?

Post by jbuck919 » Mon May 03, 2010 5:27 am

Madame wrote: Gosh. I thought this article was a recognition of those who serve at the 'grass roots' level of whatever church or other organization they're part of, be it in Sudan or Appalachia or wherever else there is a need.
It was, Colleen, and wonderful work they do indeed. I was addressing his silly assertion that field missionaries of the humanistic sort would make good popes when his whole point is the duality of the church as land owners and the church as laborers in the vineyard who are more or less oblivious to the problems of the owners.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

DavidRoss
Posts: 3384
Joined: Mon May 30, 2005 7:05 am
Location: Northern California

Re: Who Can Mock the Catholic Church?

Post by DavidRoss » Mon May 03, 2010 9:46 am

Madame wrote:Gosh. I thought this article was a recognition of those who serve at the 'grass roots' level of whatever church or other organization they're part of, be it in Sudan or Appalachia or wherever else there is a need. I see now that it triggered something something else for some readers.

Maybe I shoulda stayed on 'sabbatical' longer, between this and the Enquirer thread, I'm back on sensory overload! :)
That was a nice article, Madame, a reminder of what the Church really is and how its shepherds function. Some folks are just full of hate (does it stem from self-loathing?) and turn that hatred onto whatever target suits their prejudices at the time. Condemning the Church--or worse, all of Christianity--on the basis of the small number of pedophile priests and institutional failure to deal with the problem as well as it should have is like condemning the schools for similar failures regarding pedophile teachers.

What's that saying about babies and bathwater?
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

"Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." ~Albert Einstein
"Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it; but, in the end, there it is." ~Winston Churchill

Image

Chosen Barley
Posts: 639
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2008 12:42 am
Location: Canada

Re: Who Can Mock the Catholic Church?

Post by Chosen Barley » Mon May 03, 2010 11:44 am

Good points, Reblem, :lol: but one could apply that thinking to any ideology-based organization/club that large numbers of people stick with because they can no longer think for themselves, being so emotionally attached to it. But at some point one ought to say, Enough is enough already. This club has changed too much for me to belong or even to try to change.

Still, why is the media so fixated on persecuting this Pope?
STRESSED? Spell it backwards for the cure.

diegobueno
Winds Specialist
Posts: 2454
Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2005 2:26 pm
Contact:

Re: Who Can Mock the Catholic Church?

Post by diegobueno » Mon May 03, 2010 12:32 pm

DavidRoss wrote:That was a nice article, Madame, a reminder of what the Church really is and how its shepherds function. Some folks are just full of hate (does it stem from self-loathing?) and turn that hatred onto whatever target suits their prejudices at the time.
Yes, that would be the Tea Party.

And to frame the issue in a way even a tea bagger could understand, what the Catholic Church has is a problem of Big Government, with too many restrictive regulations (celibate clergy, no birth control, etc.). Perhaps Catholics need to form their own "Holy Water Party" to demand more local control and less Vatican meddling. One thing they cannot do is condone or tolerate sexual abuse of their children from their clergy, or tolerate attempts to stifle criticism of such abuses by so-called defenders of Christianity. The Catholic Church as a whole needs to be mindful of David's first tag line, the quotation from Dale Turner. But, of course, this is for Catholics themselves to deal with. I wish them luck.

And by the way, Brendan, hating the Catholic Church is far from being "the new fashion". It's been going on for 500 years, and for most of that period with much bloodier results than at present. This country was settled by such people.

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26867
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Re: Who Can Mock the Catholic Church?

Post by jbuck919 » Mon May 03, 2010 4:46 pm

RebLem wrote: Many Catholics who disagree with much of Church practice and doctrime don't leave the Church because the Church has convinced them of one thing: the Catholic Church is "the one true, holy, universal, and apostolic church." And when bishops and clergy urge them to leave, as I heard Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati do some time ago, they respond, "Nothing doing! I still believe, and I think the Church has lost its way. I'm staying, and I'm fighting."

This attitude has made the Catholic Church, IMO, the most American of churches. We only have two political parties of any significance, because most Americans have that same attitude about politics. Baptists, on the other hand, break off and form new congregations, and sometimes even new denominations, anytime they have the slightest disagreements about church policy. They do religion like the French and the Italians do politics.
I like your analysis. I would add that very few in the hierarchy actually want the cafeteria Catholics to leave. The status quo of castigating them but accepting their money has become the normal state of things. There is insufficient pressure from or on either side for any foreseeable change in this state of things.
Chosen Barley wrote:Still, why is the media so fixated on persecuting this Pope?
I don't think that's a fair characterization. Whoever happened to be the pope when it became clear that this was a world-wide problem and not just an American thing would be having the same problems. If you read enough stories, the press has reported that Benedict was actually in favor of pressing some of these cases and met resistance from the suddenly not-so-sacrosanct JP II.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

NancyElla
Posts: 659
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:51 pm

Re: Who Can Mock the Catholic Church?

Post by NancyElla » Tue May 04, 2010 1:42 am

Who can mock the Catholic church? Heck, anyone can, it's a big target and there's plenty plenty to mock. And as Mark pointed out, animosity to the Catholic church is not a new phenomenon. But as Nick Kristof's article demonstrated, anyone who knows some of the genuine heroes of the church is not likely to mock them, and might possibly even reconsider the worth of the Catholic church based on their contributions to the world.

I'm one of those stubborn Catholics who refuses to leave the church despite serious, ongoing differences of opinion with the hierarchy. It is hard for me to explain why I stay. My liberal friends can't understand why I stay, when I could be so much more comfortable as a Unitarian, a Humanist, or even an Episcopalian. My conservative Catholic friends can't understand why I stay, when they'd be more comfortable if I were a Unitarian, a Humanist, or even an Episcopalian! Well, maybe comfort is over-rated. Maybe I'm just stubborn. But maybe I stay because of the example of Catholic men and women like those Kristof featured in his article. I've got to agree with him--nuns rock. (American nuns are having their own issues with the Vatican hierarchy these days, but that's another issue that deserves its own thread.) For me, people like Mother Teresa, Sister Dorothy Stang, Sister Helen Prejean, and the Catholic men and women I have known, whether religious, lay, or ordained, who devote themselves to the loving service of others, are the true spiritual leaders of the church. Catholics are big on this "real presence" thing, and all sorts of nonsense has been written about it over the centuries, but for me the presence of Christ becomes real in the lives of those in the church who live for others, whether those others are inner city schoolchildren, prisoners in a US state prison, poor farmers in Nicaragua, death row inmates, or just the family down the street that can't meet the rent this month.

I stay in the church partly because it seems like my best chance to learn to live that unselfishly. I stay partly because I want the church, as an organization, to become worthy of its most generous, most Christian, daughters and sons. I stay because God has given me a big mouth and the willingness to fight for what seems to me to be clearly right, and against what seems to me to be clearly wrong. And I stay because the church is my spiritual home, and I am not easily driven from my home. This seems to be where God wants me. I figure if She wants me in another vineyard, She'll let me know.
"This is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great." --Willa Cather

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests