Archive for the ‘catholic church’ tag
The Catholic Church has now apparently distanced itself from a recent claim of Pope Francis that even atheists, as long as they are good people, can receive salvation and get to heaven.
The Rev. Thomas Rosica made the following statement:
All salvation comes from Christ, the Head, through the Church which is his body. Hence they cannot be saved who, knowing the Church as founded by Christ and necessary for salvation, would refuse to enter her or remain in her. … (Pope Francis) is first and foremost a seasoned pastor and preacher who has much experience in reaching people. His words are not spoken in the context of a theological faculty or academy nor in interreligious dialogue or debate.
Notice the part in italics. It doesn’t appear the church actually submitted a wholecloth retraction of Francis’ statement about nonbelievers entering heaven. They seem to have conceded that possibility in theory, even if leaders within the church vehemently disagree with Francis’ statement. The part that trips them up is the fact that atheists would not willingly enter heaven even if they could, and thus, in that regard, they can’t be saved. This seems like a technicality to me, but in any case, also at issue here is the church’s doctrine of papal infallibility.
The pope, as you might recall, gets his inspiration from God, according to the church and sits in a position of infallibility originally promised to Peter in the New Testament. This is the entire basis for the position of the pope in the first place. It’s right there in the Catholic Encyclopedia (as quoted from the “First dogmatic constitution on the Church of Christ,” July 1870):
The Vatican Council has defined as “a divinely revealed dogma” that “the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra — that is, when in the exercise of his office as pastor and teacher of all Christians he defines, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, a doctrine of faith or morals to be held by the whole Church — is, by reason of the Divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer wished His Church to be endowed in defining doctrines of faith and morals …
- The pontiff must teach in his public and official capacity as pastor and doctor of all Christians, not merely in his private capacity as a theologian, preacher or allocutionist, nor in his capacity as a temporal prince or as a mere ordinary of the Diocese of Rome. It must be clear that he speaks as spiritual head of the Church universal.
One could argue that declaring who can and cannot enter heaven does not fall under “defining doctrines of faith and morals,” but if the church argues that the pope is not divinely inspired and is not actually equal to or above some ivory tower theologian, then what is the pope but a puppet? Second, what if God, if we assume he exists for a second, actually stopped being a jealous and immature father, cruelly demanding both love and fear, and decided to be more progressive for a change, inviting nonbelievers into heaven if they wanted to come and if not, no hard feelings. What if that was the profound message Francis was delivering?
Further, and a more indemnifying point, if the pope is not getting his words directly from heaven and from the lips of God himself, then he is just another mortal with no special connection to heaven whatsoever and inspired, not by God, but by his own humanity. That, to me, is a beautiful thing but a ruinous thought for a church that has built a centuries-long legacy on betting that it had a singular grasp on both knowledge and the divine will.
So I'm guessing when Pope Francis fills out his bracket his final four will be Gonzaga, Georgetown, Marquette, and Creighton.#godspicks— Brian Ehman (@Behman1123) March 14, 2013
Clergy sexual abuse victims urge Pope Francis to declare "zero tolerance" for sex crimes as first official act bit.ly/YbRXwG— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) March 14, 2013
#PopeFrancis says you shouldn't get communion if you have a different opinion on abortion/euthanasia/etc than the church. How welcoming.— Forrest Smith (@Forrest_R_Smith) March 14, 2013
"gay adoption is a form of discrimination against children." -Pope Francis.Good job cardinals! picked a winner this time...#NOT— Seneca Schwenning (@SenecaPrattles) March 14, 2013
I guess I became pope today! First order of business: God is not real. Go and live your life. #popefrancis— William Control (@williamcontrol) March 13, 2013
OK, so while this is not entirely airtight, it’s amusing, especially the Allah column.
I would say, for instance, that Catholics, at least modern Catholics in America, are probably more accepting of gays than Protestants. Admittedly, I’m not in those circles anymore, so I could be entirely off base. I also think that the Protestant category should have been subdivided into traditional and evangelical. Also, the “Mary Is ..” category is not terribly accurate in the Protestant column since, while she was a nobody as far as her earthly life was concerned, she was the host of an immaculate conception and the “mother” of God.
Pope John Paul II, predecessor of the current pope, Joseph Ratzinger, is one unverifiable miracle away from sainthood this weekend, following a beatification ceremony Sunday at the Vatican. Sister Marie Simon Pierre claimed she was cured of Parkinson's disease after praying to Pope John Paul. John Paul died of Parkinson’s. How convenient. Too bad he couldn’t pray to himself or to one of the other legions of mortals the Catholic Church has raised to god-status through the centuries.
Neither John Paul, nor Ratzinger are deserving of canonization, of course, since their collective track record on human rights is contemptible at best. John Paul looked the other way when bishops and others within his own church were accused of pedophilia, failed to administer swift justice on the accused or failed to report or covered up cases altogether. Here is The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd:
… John Paul forfeited his right to beatification when he failed to establish a legal standard to remove pedophiles from the priesthood, and simply turned away for many years.
… How can you be a saint if you fail to protect innocent children?
Ratzinger’s record is hardly any cleaner. You know a church has major internal problems when one of the most dominant links on the front of its website reads, “Abuse of minors, the church’s response.”
John Paul was also well known for his stance against condom use, a stance that no doubt has caused untold suffering in Africa and other parts of the world after the Church openly condemned condom use in impoverished countries, ludicrously claiming in 2003 that condoms were ineffective because they had tiny holes in them. Ratzinger’s statements about condoms are barely any more enlightening.
The current pope is well aware of the continued heat being placed on the church because of these and other misdeeds. Thus, as Catholic officials are apt to do, Ratzinger simply made up the rules as he went along, waiving the traditional five-year wait for beatification and went ahead with proceedings weeks after John Paul gave up the ghost, the latter presumably not finding the correct saint on which to pray to save himself from the incurable disease. Here is Ratzinger at the ceremony talking and largely misrepresenting John Paul:
He was witness to the tragic age of big ideologies, totalitarian regimes, and from their passing John Paul II embraced the harsh suffering, marked by tension and contradictions, of the transition of the modern age toward a new phase of history, showing constant concern that the human person be its protagonist.
Ratzinger called John Paul “blessed,” which means he can now be exalted in public, presumably putting him just a step below Jesus. Sainthood then, in everyone’s eyes except deluded Catholic officials and followers, will place John Paul on the same tier as Jesus in the stupendously fabricated and polytheistic world of Roman Catholicism. I wonder if the good shepherd himself would take offense.
Or, at least for some.
Here is an interesting tidbit related to Halloween that I thought I would bring to light before the month turns over in about an hour.
On Oct. 31, 1517, Martin Luther pinned his famous 95 theses to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany, to protest, among other Catholic practices, the sale of indulgences, which allowed believers to be absolved of their sins via payment. Of course, in Luther’s day, there was nothing quite like the modern Halloween, but elements of it, including costumes and bonfires, were probably already part of the national conscious in parts of Europe.
The roots of Halloween as we know it likely began with the Celtic festival known as Samhain, which finds its origin in the Old Irish word meaning the end of summer. As lore goes, the Celts believed that on Samhain, which was presumably held between Oct. 31-Nov. 1, the border that separates the physical world from the “otherworld” — I take this to mean “spiritual world” — became permeable, thus spirits could more readily slip into this one. Apparently, the wearing of costumes fended off the “bad” spirits from bleeding through and affecting things in this world or the costumes made people appear to be bad spirits, as if the spirits couldn’t see through the guise.
Regardless, “Halloween” was thought to have been used first in the 16th century as a variation of All Hallows Eve, which was the day before All Hallows Day or All Saints Day, which, in contrast to the lore behind Halloween, was meant to be a celebration of all saints, both living and not. And it’s here that we come back to Luther.
It’s probably no accident that Luther chose All Hallows Eve to post his treatise on the door of All Saints Church, and we can outline the rest of the story. Luther’s actions laid the foundation for what came to be known as the Protestant Reformation, which, of course, paved the way for the Presbyterians, Wesleyans, Baptists, Quakers, Calvinists and all the rest to found their own separate doctrines. Looking back, it’s quite necessary to note that in Protestant circles today, from Methodists to Baptists to Presbyterians, almost all of those believers now seem to assume that Protestantism was the original and major religion that took root following the supposed proselytizing recounted in Acts.
Catholicism, however, was the church that eventually evolved and legalized in 313 A.D., and it’s only because of Luther, and John Calvin, that Protestantism came to be. Carried to the end, it’s no stretch to suggest that without figures like Luther, Calvin or similar figures, Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists and others might now be Catholic Christians because that’s really the only Christian establishment that existed prior to the 16th century. Current Protestant thinking is peculiar indeed, since many of the more fervent evangelicals today suggest, and even teach, that Catholicism is misguided or outright in error and that Protestantism is the true and right religion, when in fact, for about 1,280 years, Catholicism was the only path to Christianity.
Glad they cleared this up for us:
And here is the equally nebulous Athanasian Creed:
…. we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost is all One, the Glory Equal, the Majesty Co-Eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father Uncreate, the Son Uncreate, and the Holy Ghost Uncreate. The Father Incomprehensible, the Son Incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost Incomprehensible. The Father Eternal, the Son Eternal, and the Holy Ghost Eternal and yet they are not Three Eternals but One Eternal. As also there are not Three Uncreated, nor Three Incomprehensibles, but One Uncreated, and One Uncomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not Three Almighties but One Almighty.
So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not Three Gods, but One God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not Three Lords but One Lord.
Sounds like a lot of specious reasoning and begging the question to me. For all the Church’s accomplishments or good deeds in the world, lucidity would not be among them.
[Of course, I wouldn't bother with the last 1 1/2 minutes of the video because the site owner solicits donations. While I don't disagree with a person's right to donate to a certain charity they believe in, the bit at the end of this video seemed hauntingly like any other pleadings seen on religious channels. In other words, revolting. Thus, the same applies for believers and nonbelievers: if you want to produce free videos on YouTube or elsewhere, by all means, produce away. But do it with your own funds.]
The woes continued for the Catholic Church this week as documents obtained by The Associated Press show that Joseph Ratzinger, then-cardinal, now Pope Benedict XVI; Pope John Paul II; and other church officials were, by any account, snaillike in investigating yet another minister, Stephen Kreisl, whose record includes being accused of molesting 15 male and female children.
He pleaded no contest to lewd conduct in 1978 for tying up and molesting two boys. He left the ministry in 1981, only to become a volunteer at a youth ministry three years later in Oakland, Calif. He was also imprisoned for six years in 2004 for molesting a girl at his Truckee, Calif., vacation home.
For those keeping score, here’s a handy site which is tracking the Church’s whole calamitous affair of, how can we say, unholy priests. Here is a detailed New York Times story about it, and here’s a link to letters urging then-”Most Holy Father,” Pope John Paul II, to defrock Kreisl.
[Photo: A 1985 letter, written in Latin, to the Diocese of Oakland signed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The letter said that a California priest accused of molesting children should not be defrocked without further study. - Kim Johnson/Associated Press]
For a church which seems absolutely consumed with the topic of sex, from abstinence, to prohibiting condom use in Africa, to circumcision, to homosexual priests, to continued and near ubiquitous charges of molestation of children (some deaf, no less!), readers shouldn’t be surprised that the Catholic Church and Joseph Ratzinger, the current pope, is summoning every possible excuse to deflect the allegations.
Indeed, charges against Catholic officials are mounting. Heaped onto the allegations, the short list includes that of:
• Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, 55, who is an Indian priest accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old girl, may be extradited to the U.S. to face trial. He was alleged to have sexually assaulted the female church member while serving in Minnesota.
• Peter Hullermann, a German priest who, after receiving therapy for his pedophilia, was allowed to continue working. Current allegations have surfaced, spanning from the 1970s to the late 90s. Only in mid-March of this year was he suspended.
• Father Donald McGuire, who sexually abused two teen boys in the 1960s and was only convicted in 2006. He also allegedly had sexual relationships with at least seven teenage boys between 1969-2004. Here is a timeline of the egregious mess.
• Michael Teta and Robert C. Trupia — Two more, of which the late Tucson Bishop Manuel Moreno struggled with the Vatican to get defrocked.
I could, no doubt, continue. In the latest episode of blame-shifting, the Catholic News Agency is claiming that this New York Times article fails to mention that the lawyer Jeff Anderson has been the lead attorney in numerous suits against the church and has an obvious vested interest in seeing that new allegations come to light. Lawrence Murphy is the topic of The Times article, and he is accused of molesting up to 200 deaf children.
According to a William McGurn opinion piece, what Laurie Goodstein, the author of The Times story,
did not tell readers is that Mr. Anderson isn’t just any old lawyer. When it comes to suing the church, he is America’s leading plaintiffs attorney. Back in 2002, he told the Associated Press that he’d won more than $60 million in settlements from the church, and he once boasted to a Twin Cities weekly that he’s “suing the s–t out of them everywhere.” Nor did the Times report another salient fact about Mr. Anderson: He’s now trying to sue the Vatican in U.S. federal court.
And the Catholic News Agency:
According to the Pioneer Press, Anderson charged that the Pope along with his predecessors was”the mastermind, head, of an international conspiracy to cover up their own crimes and keep them above the law.”
Donald Marshall, who has accused Fr. Murphy of kissing him and attempting to fondle him when he was a teenager at Lincoln Hills Boys Home in Irma, Wisconsin, also spoke at the press conference.
Now 45, Marshall said he was shocked when he was told that “then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — now Pope Benedict XVI — had a chance to defrock Murphy but instead did nothing,” the Pioneer Press says.
Then-Cardinal Ratzinger “may have not fondled me, but he’s no different because he allowed it to happen,” Marshall said, according to the Pioneer Press.
In fact, Cardinal Ratzinger was not appointed to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) until 1981, well after the abuse took place.
His office addressed sexual abuse cases only when it involved abuse of the confessional until 2001, when it took over abuse cases from the Roman Rota. Allegations against Murphy came to the CDF’s attention in 1996 because of claims he abused the confessional.
The documents provided to the New York Times by Anderson and Finnegan, as well as the Times’ interpretation of them, have been called into question.
The documentation included the minutes of a key Vatican meeting between three Wisconsin bishops and CDF Secretary Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone. However, the same documentation revealed that these Italian-language minutes were translated “very roughly” into English using a computer translator.
Properly translated, the minutes show that the Vatican never ruled out the laicization of the priest, but a lack of records from the archdiocese created barriers to a canonical trial.
In his Wall Street Journal essay, McGurn provided additional documentation challenging the Times’ claims that the priest was never tried or disciplined by the church’s own justice system. In fact, Fr. Murphy was stripped of his priestly faculties, a process McGurn declares the equivalent of taking away a doctor’s medical license.
McGurn challenged the press to continue examining the “hard questions” about Catholic prelates’ action in the Murphy case. However, he suggested reporters provide “some context, and a bit of journalistic skepticism about the narrative of a plaintiff’s attorney making millions off these cases.”
One can only wonder, however, what difference all this makes. We can’t dispute the fact that lawyers are in law to make money. That Anderson is, perhaps, taking an active role in uncovering corrupt activity either says something about his good character or his bad character. But it doesn’t matter which. The case against Murphy is only one case of a multitude leveled against the Catholic Church. In addition to cases pointed out here, the Murphy case
is only one of thousands of cases forwarded over decades by bishops to the Vatican office called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, led from 1981 to 2005 by Cardinal Ratzinger. It is still the office that decides whether accused priests should be given full canonical trials and defrocked.
And now, we have Ratzinger and other Catholic officials equating the ill-fated church with the persecution of the Jews.
If that sounds like a heinous analogical leap, you would be right.
Speaking in St. Peter’s Basilica, the priest, the Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa, took note that Easter and Passover fell during the same week this year, and said he was led to think of the Jews.
“They know from experience what it means to be victims of collective violence, and also because of this they are quick to recognize the recurring symptoms,” said Father Cantalamessa, who serves under the title of preacher of the papal household. Then he quoted from what he said was a letter from a Jewish friend he did not identify.
“I am following the violent and concentric attacks against the church, the pope and all the faithful by the whole world,” he said the friend wrote. “The use of stereotypes, the passing from personal responsibility and guilt to a collective guilt, remind me of the more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism.”
Quite the contrary, if any institution should feel a generous measure of guilt at this point, it should be the Catholic Church, and it should apologize to us all for the immoral acts it has both condoned, turned a blind eye to and exacted on humankind through these 1,800 or so years. Not to mention the less unseen, but just as disastrous, effects of teaching young children that they are created innately and spiritually sick and commanded to make themselves better by believing (however forced and obligatory that belief may be) or else face the fire. And in such a lowly spiritual condition, children are taught that confession is where they are to by reconciled to God, who, presumably, made them sinners to begin with. At least Protestantism claims to offer direct access to Jesus without a necessary, and also presumably, an equally or possible more sinful, intermediary, as we have learned, and it’s in this sad context that the sex scandals with children only begin, making them, at once, even more internally wanton and deplorable than just the physical act itself.