Disfiguring the face of Roman Catholicism

As Pope Benedict departs, what will the next era bring for the Church (Source: Wikipedia)

The last half-decade — since the 2006 midterm elections, really — has been a spectacularly bad spell for the Republican Party and for American conservatives in general.

So it’s a particularly painful reality that things have been even worse for that other great conservative institution that shapes so much of our cultural and political life, the Roman Catholic church.

Yes, the GOP faces a persistent leadership crisis, as well as a grave generational disconnect with young voters, women and people of color.

Yes, Republicans have planted their flag in opposition to things like tolerance for homosexuality, the wide availability of contraception and active environmentalism.

But such things are cyclical in a political party and can be remedied with relative ease.

The Church, meanwhile, faces a similar crisis with no obvious mechanisms for finding a solution.

In the last month, Pope Benedict resigned abruptly, speaking of “divisions” within his hierarchy and worrying aloud over the “sometimes disfigured face” of Roman Catholicism.

The Vatileaks scandal, following on the priest pedophilia debacle, has now given way to the resignation of Britain’s senior Catholic cleric, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, in the wake of allegations that he made sexual advances toward other clergymen.

Then there’s the high-profile case of Monsignor Kevin Wallin, a clergyman in Connecticut, arrested for allegedly dealing crystal meth.

The problem for the Chuch is that it lacks any obvious means to claw its way out of this dead-end.  A generation of highly conservative clerics in the post-Vatican 2 era have essentially closed off any dialogue with modernity.

Even as evidence mounts that homosexuality is just as common among priests as it is in the general population, the Church continues to dismiss it as an illegitimate perversion.

Even as the wider culture accepts women as equals to men, and as the ranks of ordained priests dwindle, the Church shrugs off any meaningful conversation about a marriage option for the priesthood, or the ordination of women.

Catholic leaders regularly dismiss this kind of essay as misguided, suggesting that without sharing the Roman Catholic faith no journalist can treat the Church’s crisis fairly or with any insight.

Indeed, many church leaders continue to argue that critics have it backwards.  It is the wider culture, not the fiber and weave of Catholicism, that is in tatters.

“So we could say maybe (some) people have lost the gift of faith because we’ve created a society where people can’t believe,” said Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, in an interview with with the Chicago Tribune.

Maybe so.  But when a man is about to drown, it makes no sense to blame the sea.  He should look first to his own leaky boat.

It goes without saying that the Church remains a vital, deeply valuable institution in America, particularly in areas like the North Country.

But the next pope has a narrowing window of time to answer truly existential questions about the structure, the message and the spiritual values of Roman Catholicism.

There are signs that top leaders still don’t understand the peril of this crisis or the severity of the damage to their credibility.

Consider this.  Cardinal Roger Mahony, the semi-retired former top cleric from Los Angeles, California, has been stripped of most of his diocesan duties because of his documented efforts to shield pedophile priests.

One priest under Mahony’s supervision fled to Mexico to escape police prosecution after he was warned that he was in “a good deal of danger” by a top Mahony aide.

(Can you imagine if Mahony’s staff had helped an accused bank robber or a drug dealer to escape police?  But no.  In this case, it was only an alleged molester.)

Yet Mahony will be one of the cardinals allowed to participate in the sacred selection process in Rome that will produce the next pontiff.

(Before departing for Rome, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan was also deposed recently by lawyers bringing lawsuits over hundreds of sexual abuse cases in Milwaukee, where Dolan was archbishop.)

And there’s the challenge in a nutshell.  How do you clean house when the guys who trashed the house continue to claim a mandate from God?

94 Comments on “Disfiguring the face of Roman Catholicism”

  1. Pete Klein says:

    How do you clean house when the guys who trashed the house continue to claim a mandate from God?
    You don’t.

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  2. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    I recently viewed the HBO documentary “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God” and highly recommend every Catholic do the same. It’s a rather scathing commentary of the massive effort by the Vatican to cover up and shield itself and the priesthood from the worldwide child abuse scandal. The current Pope, while a Cardinal, leading the office that swept these misdeeds under the carpet for years and years.

    The documentary also sheds some light on the money spicket that fuels the Vatican’s vast wealth as well as touches on the absurdity of the idea of “Vatican City” being a separate recognized nation state which in some sense protects the Catholic Church from scrutiny and legal consequences of its actions.

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  3. Rancid Crabtree says:

    It’s posts like this that make me wonder just what the world is coming to Brian.

    First off, the insulting last sentence- Shouldn’t you be asking the same question of our gov’t? You support the efforts of the current administration to cover, dodge, obfuscate, etc. important questions on subjects like Benghazi, the devaluation of our dollar, the Obamacare debacle. Our gov’t may not claim it’s mandate is from God, but in realistic terms there’s not much difference.

    I’m not Catholic, but even I understand that Priests and Nuns are supposed to abstain from sexual relations, gay or straight. I can understand that when you take the job you know ahead of time that women are subservient to men in the church. The rules are the rules and doctrine is doctrine. I don’t condone everything the Catholic Church does, but it seems pretty egotistical to me to expect the church or the Boy Scouts or any other organization to bend to perceived norms they disagree with. IMO it’s no different than any other politically correct fad of the moment. If you want to be Catholic then you abide by the rules and doctrine. If you don’t want to, if you disagree, then there are lots of other churches that will welcome you. We don’t tell atheists they have to believe in God or they’ll be arrested or sued, but we tell faith based organizations they have to comply with laws that directly contradict their beliefs or they’ll be arrested or sued. That makes sense to you? Should we start demanding our local Amish stop using horses and that they put their kids in our schools? Some bigots out there would!

    I would also take issue with this portrayal of the GOP- “Yes, Republicans have planted their flag in opposition to things like tolerance for homosexuality, the wide availability of contraception and active environmentalism.”

    Please Brian, you are the one always going on about “nuance”. Could you at least apply it yourself? Republicans, as a group, don’t oppose tolerance for homosexuality so much as they oppose creating special privileges for homosexuals. They have an issue with the gov’t providing birth control to minors and for the murder of babies. And they do oppose radical environmentalism that has no base in reality but rather tends to be based on earth worship- and the gov’t is not supposed to be making law based on a religion, which is what this earth worship is.

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  4. The Original Larry says:

    It seems you want to forge a linkage between conservatism and the problems of the Republican Party and the Catholic Church. It would be convenient for you but it just isn’t so. In the first place, there’s no connection or comparison between the Republican Party and the Catholic Church. Whatever challenges the Republicans face, they pale in comparison to the position the Church has put itself in. In the Church you have failed leadership, a corrupt philosophy, a culture of deceit and an acceptance of the worst sort of perversion. There’s no connection to political or sociologic conservatism.

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  5. Brian says:

    Rancid –

    Your post includes a number of factual errors. First, many leading Republicans have indeed opposed the wide availability of contraception – not merely to minors. During the presidential campaign, a key social difference between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney was over the coverage of contraception in health insurance plans. Secondly, I know of no one (at least in the mainstream discourse) who advocates “special privileges” for homosexuals. Allowing gays and lesbians to marry, and protecting their employment rights, merely grants them the normal privileges enjoyed by the wider community. Finally, many senior Republicans also reject the overwhelming, data-driven scientific consensus of climate change.

    Now to your suggestion that my post is bigoted. On the contrary. I write sympathetically and with warmth and respect about the Roman Catholic church. But it is simply accurate to point out that a hierarchy that is both deeply scandal-plagued and doctrinally convinced of its own infallibility faces a difficult transition, particularly at a time when so many in the West are moving away from the kind of religious traditionalism at the heart of the modern Church.

    It is absolutely true that, within reason, churches and private groups can reject the “perceived norms” of the moment, be that tolerance for homosexuality, acceptance of the equality of women, or changing views about human sexuality.

    I say within reason because in some cases the Church’s attempts to define its own moral and ethical terms internally have led to terrible legal consequences and terrible abuses of vulnerable people.

    It’s also worth noting that since 1965, the number of priests has been nearly cut in half and the number of nuns has declined by 75%.

    So yes, it’s valid to choose not to change. But what do you do when changes have already occurred?

    –Brian, NCPR

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  6. Peter Hahn says:

    Does anyone really care about the Church hierarchy personal behavior? It’s been known for years now that they condone and cover up pedophilia by the parish priests. Now we find out that some of them sexually harass those parish priests. This kind of stuff all happens in the other religions as well, and probably always has.

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  7. Peter Hahn says:

    Brian – In Rancid’s defense, his portrayal of the Republican position, is pretty close to their (the republican’s) official version, and therefore not strictly speaking a factual error.

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  8. Brian says:

    Peter –

    The Republican Party has actively and aggressively campaigned to block Democratic Party efforts to make contraception (for adults) a required element of health insurance plans.

    That was the position of their presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.

    The Republican Party platform describes their efforts to block equal marriage rights (not “special privileges”) for gays and lesbians as a “sacred contract.”

    And when Rancid describes issues like climate change as part of an “earth worship” he is simply and verifiably factually wrong.

    Climate change data is based on decades of scientific research, not the tenets of a religious faith.

    –Brian, NCPR

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  9. Peter Hahn says:

    Brian – Im not disagreeing with your description of the Republican positions, just pointing out that it is not how they would describe them. Their description would be closer to Rancid’s version. For example, they would describe their opposition to laws to protect gays and lesbians as an opposition to “special privileges”. etc.

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  10. Brian says:

    Right. And I’m saying factually that, to the best of my knowledge, gays and lesbians are not asking for special privileges.

    Whatever you think of the Defense of Marriage Act, ti cite one example, it simply doesn’t deny anyone “special” privileges. It denies them normal rights that the rest of us enjoy.

    -Brian, NCPR

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  11. Mervel says:

    I think that you should not confuse “conservative” politically with Traditionalist or Orthodox from a Catholic viewpoint.

    Pope John Paul II and to some Degree Pope Benedict, and the Church in general can certainly not be put into one or the other of those boxes. The Church is a strong critic of Capitalism, unfettered free markets, greed, materialism etc and has always been a staunch advocate for the poor and vulnerable advocating the rights of these people far far above the rights of the military or the wealthy, certainly these would be “liberal” politically; on the other side of things indeed the Church would also be seen as extremely conservative on issues surrounding sexual morality, traditional marriage, family life, and of course the abortion issue and so forth, this would be of course in the very conservative camp.

    These teachings have not changed, there has not been some sort of conservative move in how and what the Church is teaching, society has certainly changed and I think people expected the Church to float along with society. I believe God is calling the Church to not float along with society. So in some ways it will always be a pilgrim and outcast on the earth. It is NOT as social institution but a spiritual path for those who choose to follow the Church that many believe was established by Christ Himself. To the degree that it is simply a political, social institution, to that degree if fails. The more worldly the Church is the further it falls from its true mission. Right now I think given the scandals and failures within the parts of the Vatican itself, which have become corrupted, it needs to be purged and go through a time of renewal. But this has been the case before over the 2000 year history, the entire reason St. Benedict left Rome and formed his Order was in reaction to the corruption and paganism within Rome that he saw. There has always been this ebb and flow back and forth. I am sure we will go through it again.

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  12. hermit thrush says:

    Republicans, as a group, don’t oppose tolerance for homosexuality so much as they oppose creating special privileges for homosexuals.

    brian already explained how nuts this is, but i just have to say, holy cow, rancid, do you really buy your own bs?

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  13. Paul says:

    The church tends to be much more consistent in their position than many politicians. If you are pro-life how can you support the death penalty? If the pope had his way he would have let the guy go that shot him.

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  14. hermit thrush says:

    Yes, Republicans have planted their flag in opposition to things like tolerance for homosexuality, the wide availability of contraception and active environmentalism.

    But such things are cyclical in a political party and can be remedied with relative ease.

    how is it going to be easy for the gop to remedy this? the first two items are bedrock religious views of the gop base.

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  15. Brian says:

    HT –

    Republicans have worn many hats over the decades. Yes, the current base is mobilized in large measure by ‘traditionalist’ ideas about marriage, Christianity and other conservative social values.

    But as recently as the 1970s, it wasn’t so at all. And go back to the founding of the party and you find that it stood for very different things.

    I’m not suggesting that the GOP MUST change — no more than I’m suggesting that the Roman Catholic Church MUST adapt.

    I’m merely saying that Republicans have open and fairly transparent democratic mechanisms for thinking about their trajectory and making changes.

    The current leadership fight in the GOP, for example, is in large measure a healthy, public airing of issues — as was last year’s primary battle for the presidential nomination.

    By contrast, the next steps of the Church will be decided behind closed doors, using mechanisms that are largely closed to the people in the pews.

    That process will, I think, make change significantly harder for the Vatican.

    –Brian, NCPR

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  16. Yeah, NO says:

    “These teachings have not changed, there has not been some sort of conservative move in how and what the Church is teaching, society has certainly changed and I think people expected the Church to float along with society. ”

    History fail.

    You don’t even have to look at Vatican II to prove this wrong, just pick up a copy of Ellis’s Documents of American Catholic History, published a decade before.

    Or just make stuff up and then develop broad theories about church history to fit your agenda – it is the internet after all, you get to pretend whatever you like and claim it’s true.

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  17. Mervel says:

    The ironic thing is that Churches in the West that have attempted to change with the social norms of the day, have shrunk, Churches which have remained true to their spiritual mission and teachings, have grown from evangelicals to conservative Catholics.

    If the Catholic Church suddenly became pro-choice and pro-gay marriage and endorsed Priestly marriage, you would probably get an increase in Priests and fewer adherents to the faith. No one who is not going to mass now, is going to go if the Church changes its stand on today’s social issues, it comes down to faith.

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  18. hermit thrush says:

    By contrast, the next steps of the Church will be decided behind closed doors, using mechanisms that are largely closed to the people in the pews.

    That process will, I think, make change significantly harder for the Vatican.

    i’m not sure that i agree — but for precisely the same reason.

    for the church to change, you just need a small number of elites to change the doctrine.

    for the gop to change, you have to get the entire base on board.

    do you really think the first is harder?

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  19. newt says:

    In fairness to the Catholic Church, an institution whose hierarchy I have 0 affection, and not much respect, for, has it not instituted reforms to guard against the sexual abuse of children? Have there been many RECENT accusations of abuse, or are they, as is my impression, mostly (horrid as these, and the cover-ups, were) mostly events of twenty or more years ago?

    Of course, maintaining an institution whose leaders are expected to be both moral and celibate will probably continue to take it in the downward spiral it now follows.

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  20. The Vatican faces the same challenge as any entrenched bureaucracy: resistance to change and reflexive instinct to cover up wrong doing. However, this is more damaging since, in contrast to corporations and governments, the whole raison d’etre of organized religion (or at least its claimed purpose) is to provide moral leadership. And what’s most undermined the Church’s credibility: as Nixon found out, it’s not about the crimes, it’s about the coverup. The Church wants to see itself above the whim’s of public opinion, or as they’d see it: of mob opinion. The consequence has been its increasing irrelevance.

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  21. Jim Bullard says:

    Rancid, There’s an old quote that I remember to the effect that despite all our art, technology and other trappings of civilization, the human race owes its existence to 6 inches of topsoil and the fact that it rains (paraphrased). Recognizing our dependence on the Earth is no Earth worship. It is simple humility in the face of our dependency and the fact that if we s**t in our nest too much we will destroy ourselves. I call that common sense, not worship.

    Paul, As I recall the Pope visited the shooter in his cell and forgave him, then left him to serve out his sentence in his cell. Personal forgiveness and legal consequences are two separate things. The first frees the soul from being tied to the past but the body is still subject to whatever physical consequences follow an action.

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  22. dave says:

    “How do you clean house when the guys who trashed the house continue to claim a mandate from God?”

    The problem is not just that they can hide behind their crimes and misdeeds by claiming they have a mandate from god… the problem is that there are enough people out there who actually believe in that silliness and for whom having a “mandate from god” matters more than common decency.

    While there seems to be a slow move away from such superstition, I am not sure that house will ever be really clean.

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  23. tootightmike says:

    Just let them go. The Republican party as we know it will fade, and if they cling to outdated ideas, they’ll disappear like the Edsel. The Catholic church had a good long run of it, but has been in decline for decades. Every extreme conservative edict will have some followers of course, but more and more who will break away, leaving a smaller and smaller population who refuse to move forward. Medieval societies are nearly a thing of the past…let ’em go.

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  24. Paul says:

    There is what, about 1.2 billion Catholics in the world? It has grown over 10% over the last ten years. In the US and even now in Europe there is a warped view of what is happening to the Catholic church. It is doing lots better than the GOP that’s for sure.

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  25. Jim Bullard says:

    Here is a look at the numbers http://cara.georgetown.edu/CARAServices/requestedchurchstats.html.
    What’s interesting is that virtually every category in the US table is declining except the total number of Catholics and the number of parishes without priests. To me that calls into question the total number statistic. Perhaps they are counting everyone who is nominally Catholic? I have some nominal Catholics in my family, people who were baptized Catholic but don’t follow the religion (at least two of them are openly antagonistic toward it) and haven’t see the inside of a church in decades.

    The worldwide figures are a bit more mixed but there are still significant declines in several areas except in total membership where the number has allegedly almost doubled. Set against the backdrop of relatively steady numbers of priests worldwide and significant drops in the numbers of monks & nuns, again I question the validity of the total membership tally.

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  26. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Brian, go back and re-read what I wrote. I never said or implied YOU were a bigot in any way, shape or form. I just provided the Amish reference as an example of the same thinking that I see applied by our gov’t to the Catholic or other churches.

    Re-inventing the definition of marriage so it applies to something other than one man and one woman while NOT having it apply to anything other than one man/one woman, 2 men or 2 women is creating a special privilege for gay couples. If “marriage” is supposed to apply to all permanent unions then why does int not apply to other types of unions? 2 men and 1 woman or 7 women and 1 man? The term was redefined to create a special privilege for a certain group. Insurance, etc. could have easily been covered with civil unions.

    Contraception is less the issue than abortion. And I would also note that contraception only covers birth control for women. No birth control plan for men has been advocated that I know. IOW- Uncle Sam isn’t footing the bill for your condoms.

    You and some other seem to confuse my term “earth worship” with global warming. Nope, it’s lots bigger than that. The whole of the radical environmental from PETA to Earth First to Al Gore and his UN pals and their power grab is part and parcel of the religion of environmentalism. It’s different than wanting clean air and water and sustainable stewardship of our resources. It’s a religion where the earth/Gia/whatever is god, man is evil and that’s just all there is to it. I would agree that many on the right have little trust for the global climate change industry, yes. But I would note a good part of that distrust comes from the power grab involved, the skewed “facts” and “studies” and the billions of dollars at stake.

    I don’t dispute or defend the terrible things that have occurred within the Catholic Church. You can go way back to the Crusades or before and see what power and money do to people. Greed, corruption, lies, deceit, treachery, murder and worse. I don’t see how linking this to the GOP accomplishes anything other than taking a cheap shot at both parties mentioned. I don’t see, in fact I can’t recall you ever taking the same tack and attempting to link something like this to the Democrat party. Can you seriously look at Chicago or Detroit or any of a number of other Democrat strongholds and not see corruption, greed, lies, etc? You went on at length about Republican voter suppression in the last election but you never mentioned Democrats that blocked military absentee votes from being counted or mentioned the recent Democrat poll worker who voted at least twice and perhaps as many as 6 times!

    Factual errors? As I asked in another post, who’s facts? Take the timber from you own eye first Brian.

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  27. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Jim, the is a huge difference between those who are conservationists and stewards of our natural resources and the earth worshippers. As huge a difference as there is between an organic market gardener and Monsanto or ADM. The people I speak of are those who would do away with agriculture as we’ve known it for the past 200 or so years, with fossil fuels and with animal power, water power, wood burning, etc. We have them in our own DEC, in our gov’t. Those are the people that come up with blanket solutions to local problems. Got a dummy in the neighborhood that burns used diapers in his outdoor wood boiler? Don’t go to the problem child and write him a ticket. Outlaw OWBs, outdoor burning and make it so difficult to use solid fuels that people give up.

    Look into the UN’s Agenda 21. It’s about beliefs, power, radical environmentalism and a new world order.

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  28. The Original Larry says:

    The problems of the Church are not rooted in conservative
    doctrine. It’s criminal behavior.

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  29. Jonathan Brown says:

    Here’s another way of looking at this:

    Remember the start of the Iraq War in 2003? Saddam Hussein’s propaganda chief was on camera denying any U.S. invasion. Then, behind him, you could see an American tank roll by.

    The propaganda chief represents paternalistic hierarchy. The tank, hard science and demonstrable fact.

    The Roman Catholic Church and the GOP adhere to a male-dominated, top-down form of authority that needs to be obeyed if an adherent wants to stay in the good graces of leadership.

    One big problem for both the Church and the GOP is that they keep saying things that are harder and harder to believe. That makes their edicts harder to follow, too.

    Their supporters are right: neither institution has to change. But if they don’t, they’ll lose followers and eventually become insignificant.

    In a way, it’s a shame. Both groups have done great things in the past. They could still be powerful forces for good in our society, but — in order to do that — they will have to acknowledge certain realities. Among them: equal rights for every one is a good thing (according to Jesus and others) and as stewards of our planet we have to act now to stop and reverse the climate changes threatening our ecosystem.

    It’s easy to find Bible passages that support both of these. So getting behind them shouldn’t be too tough.

    Unless there’s something else preventing it. If that something is money and the power derived from it, then that’s the problem. And that might be harder to fix.

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  30. Jim Bullard says:


    It is and always has been the case that one bad apple spoils the barrel and thus ends up causing laws to be passed which limit everyone. That’s not new because the alternative is undoable. Using your example of the diapers in OWBs, I doubt you would support the government hiring a cadre of OWB smoke testers to run around sampling the output of all OWBs nor, I suspect, would you support said smoke testers trespassing for the purpose of enforcing the ban on burning things other than wood.

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  31. Mervel says:

    Sorry Yeah NO, you should stick with the Catechism of the Catholic Church for your source on basic and fundamental doctrine. Vatican II did not change any teachings on morality or Faith. The Church certainly has changed liturgically, but that is not the core of our path, the core is the Trinity and what we believe and practice in how we worship that Trinity. The center of what we believe, the Universal Creed’s have not changed. The Church is the protector of doctrine, that is one of the purposes of having a papacy, frankly outside of that, its mainly just noise and politics.

    Certainly are some things emphasized or not, yes and there have been some changes over the 1900 year history on some things. For example married priests or not. But that is not a central tenant of the faith, particularly when we are looking at things like Christ and what we believe about Him and how we can best serve Him.

    Of course part of it is you have humans who are beset by a level of corruption and some bad leadership, thank God our faith does not depend on those men.

    Hopefully the next pope will focus on rooting out corruption and vice within all levels of the Church and continue to preach the Word of God.

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  32. Mervel says:


    Part of it is real and part of it is nominal counting.

    The largest declines however are in the mainline protestant denominations, and you will find smaller declines among the other groups including Catholics.

    For Catholics look at weekly Mass attenders I think that will show a more accurate picture of true membership and that has been falling in the US, less so in the rest of the world. But on counting priests you will see I think an increase in Deacons, who are taking up a whole bunch of slack. I think the future will hold that to properly serve the laity, you will have married priests in our lifetime. Well we have married priests now, but they are Episcopalian converts, so certainly with that we know that this is not something that cannot be done. I hope that happens.

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  33. Two Cents says:

    hope they vote in one of the two “petes”
    then we won’t have to wory bout no pope. st malachy says a pete will be last.
    even if they (catholic church) wanted to catch up and evolve, who would believe it was a true gesture of reform, rather than desperation?

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  34. Mervel says:

    I agree with OL, its about stopping criminal actions in a very large organization.

    There will be a time of penance and shame and probably worldly insignificance, these all must happen. In fact the seeking of worldly power and significance is a large part of the problem. The faith however will remain, Jesus isn’t going anywhere and either is His Church.

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  35. Pete Klein says:

    It would seem non Catholics are more fascinated by the Catholic Church than are Catholics.
    There is no agreement among theologians concerning to what extent infallibility exists within church doctrine.
    There could be great change within the Catholic Church in the future but the future could be 100’s of years in the future.
    Most Catholics take solace in knowing there is no black and white when it comes to sin, especially mortal sin. For something to be a mortal sin, it must be a serious offense, you must “believe” it is a serious offense and you willfully commit it knowing it is a serious offense. What you, yourself believe, is key here. It is for this reason many Catholics will practice birth control and not bother to confess it in the confessional. And why would they when they don’t believe it is a sin?
    It is also for this reason that many Catholics who are opposed to murder are not opposed to executions, which are just legal, state sponsored murder.
    Confused? Welcome to humanity.

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  36. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Jonathan, change every reference to the GOP in your post to Democrat and it would still read the same and be jut as accurate. The point being that all this finger pointing at the Repubs while ignoring the Dems issues is no more than politics.

    I don’t know why anyone feigns concern for the GOP anyway, they’re old news, their done and they’ve done it to themselves.

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  37. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Jim. given the choice between blanket answers like the outdoor burn ban or OWB laws or having specific instances looked into as the result of a complaint, yeah, I’d support the smoke tester guy.

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  38. The Original Larry says:

    I think it is ridiculous for people to keep promoting an equivalency between the Republican Party and the Catholic Church with conservatism as the linkage. Conservativism does not promote criminal behavior. These are two separate discussions.

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  39. Jonathan Brown says:


    I disagree, because I can name a long list of women who have steered the Democratic party platform.

    In New York, Hillary and (former state party chair) June O’Neil. From both coasts, Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren and (WA Senator) Patty Murray, tapped by the party in 2010 to try and keep the Senate. (She did.) In the midwest, there are the two Tammies: Duckworth and Baldwin, both broke ground and made the party focus more and work harder to improve veterans’ affairs and justice in American courts, among other things.

    I’m trying to think of a woman who’s had a similar effect on the Republican Party.

    Leadership sidelined Michelle Bachmann after her she claimed — without proof — that the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated the U.S. government. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have been marginalized in the Senate and have no currency within the GOP ranks.

    Mia Love (a small-town mayor in Utah) and NM Gov. Susana Martinez, both spoke eloquently at the Republican National Convention last year, but they authored no part of the party platform.

    There are plenty of women in the (so called) Conservative Entertainment Complex, including Megyn Kelly, Gretchen Carlson, Greta van Susteren, Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter and — until recently — Sarah Palin.

    But all of these women only echo the GOP line. They don’t change it or move it in any significant way. At least, not in any way I can tell.

    I bring this up because it’s an example of the patriarchal hierarchy within the Republican Party. And it’s a substantive difference between the GOP and the Democratic Party, where women play an increasingly larger role in the party, what it stands for and its future trajectory.

    Maybe you can come up with an example of any woman who does the same in the GOP?

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  40. hermit thrush says:

    Re-inventing the definition of marriage so it applies to something other than one man and one woman while NOT having it apply to anything other than one man/one woman, 2 men or 2 women is creating a special privilege for gay couples. If “marriage” is supposed to apply to all permanent unions then why does int not apply to other types of unions? 2 men and 1 woman or 7 women and 1 man? The term was redefined to create a special privilege for a certain group. Insurance, etc. could have easily been covered with civil unions.

    i can’t believe this needs to be said out loud, but rancid, only allowing straight couples to get married — that’s a special privilege for straight couples. just because it’s been that way for a long time doesn’t make any difference. i guess you could argue that where gay marriage is allowed, marriage becomes a special privilege for all couples (as opposed to larger groups), but at this point we’re already a good ways down the rabbit hole.

    but let’s get back to the original point. you actually wrote that “Republicans, as a group, don’t oppose tolerance for homosexuality so much as they oppose creating special privileges for homosexuals.” i think everyone should understand that rancid is a tried and true movement conservative, and that kind of denialism cuts to the heart of why american conservatism has gone off the rails. how can anyone be so blind to reality?

    “special privileges” is a total canard — see above.

    and of course republicans oppose tolerance for homosexuality. rancid mentions civil unions. well how many republicans, at least at the national level, are out there fighting for civil unions? sure, the number’s not zero, but it’s still a laughable question.

    or let’s get away from marriage. take don’t ask don’t tell. democrats wanted to repeal it. opposition to repeal came entirely* from republicans. but i’m sure rancid can explain to us why intolerance had nothing do with that.

    or what about richard grenell, the national security adviser to romney who was forced out of the campaign because he’s openly gay?

    and on and on and on….

    *ok, i should say almost entirely, since nothing in this complicated world is that absolute, but you know what i mean.

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  41. mervel says:

    Well OL is right about one thing; the Republican Party and the Catholic Church have little in common. The Catholic Church supports universal health care to start, it would support more spending on the poor and vulnerable not less and we would be against divorce and adultery, so this would really put it at odds with a lot of the leadership of the Republican Party.

    But seriously, Christian traditionalism is not the same at all as Political conservatism. They may intersect on some areas of family life issues, but they are a different paradigm.

    I am not overly concerned about the Church in that it is not a political organization it is a spiritual movement, which is also filled with sinful human beings, some of whom are corrupt and need to go or need to leave and regain their faith.

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  42. jeff says:

    There is a difference in the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church, a Christian denomination, and many other Christian denominations(not all) and that is its king-like leadership. It is directed from the top down.
    It was easier to break into failings of Jimmy Swaggart or Jim Baker because there was less insulation around the “throne” so to speak. Embarassment works wonders. Swaggart was under a denominational structure but would not comply with its corrective action.

    Someone has to be the one to clean house. To say you’ve done wrong and you’re outta here. That should be the pope.

    When people don’t like certain things in church because they don’t fit with their idea of modernity, they must question whether the Church is aligned with the scripture or whether they themselves are mis-aligned. The Church should not change to soothe the “hurt” feelings of people unless the church leadership and doctrine is wrong compared to scripture. That’s why I believe the Episcopal church in New Hampshire is wrong. I didn’t write the guidebook.

    Christians are to align themselves to scripture, not bend it suit themselves. Otherwise they are practicing a different religion.

    I’d recommend that every congregation, or even each Catholic church member, submit a letter, apart from the priest or monsignor or whoever leads them, to the Vatican and make a statement of desired corrective action. Martin Luther made his own. The church didn’t like it and they parted ways. The value is to review personal beliefs and call out the leadership. In scripture there were times when the word of God was dragged out from obscurity and the followers and leaders realized how far they were off the track and made changes.

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  43. mervel says:

    It think that is true Jeff. Martin Luther did impact the Church in good ways, although of course we won’t admit it, but he caused people to look at what we believe and why, to consider that without faith, this is all just a parlor game anyway. There was an extreme amount of corruption in the Church at that time, maybe like today, I don’t know, however I do believe Luther today would be fully Catholic. Anyway I hope things work out and I believe that they will. I don’t think any Christian Church should veer away from what Christ taught His believers, we will argue about what those teachings are, but in general we won’t argue that much. It is hard when we have these arguments about faith. Because when people talk about my Church who are not Catholic I get mad, yet this is not what I am supposed to do not at all.

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  44. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Pete Klein is right if he’s talking about people like me. The Catholic Church is utterly fascinating with all the hats and rings and man-dresses and puffs of smoke, bunks of monk and tons of nuns, catechisms and communions. And they have such a long history of both incredible good and evil.

    Perhaps some think that the Church doesn’t really change it’s values but I would find it hard to believe that the Church of today would condone the Spanish Inquisition or the near absolute destruction of Maya history.

    Nor would I imagine the Church of today condoning the ancient and not so ancient practice of slavery.

    The fact that Church leaders could be so detached from the world around them, neither in the world nor of the world, but of some shadowy existence in tapestried stone corridors where none feels any obligation to render unto Caeser that which is Caeser’s – such as those who break the Laws of both Caeser and Christ.

    Utterly fascinating.

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  45. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Let me correct myself: some seem to feel no obligation…

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  46. Nature says:


    The crimes and grave failures committed by some clergy of the Catholic Church are all the more heinous precisely because they are clergy of the Church. They should never be trivialized, or covered up. They should be prosecuted by the law, and dealt with by the church. However, is every Catholic guilty of the crimes of the priests you have mentioned? Is the Catholic Church guilty of every crime committed by a Catholic? If the Catholic Church on earth were perfect, then it would not be a “church”, it would be heaven. No religion has attained perfection. Every religion (and every human institution for that matter) can claim some measure of failure here on earth.

    You claim that there is no way for the Catholic Church to claw its way out of this dead end. What dead end? What exactly is the Catholic Church? Is it a building in Rome? Is it the Pope? Is it Priests and Nuns? Is it a billion people all around the world? Is it every soul in heaven? Could it include all of the above? Could it also include sinful people?

    Why does the Catholic Church have to be modern? Is God modern? What we now consider modern will probably look rather archaic 500 years from now.

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  47. jeff says:

    Nature’s comment reminds me Pontious Pilate said “What is Truth” My inclination is that it was a cynical statement by a man boxed into a predicament. Unlike Pilate, the leadership of the Roman Catholic church does not have pressure from above to keep peace but to carry out the gospel. On the other hand there are no mobs calling for Barabas. Instead, the call is for truth both from within and without the church. A call that the word and deed are the same. That the action is to love the sinner and hate the sin and remove from leadership offenders in the Church. Punish offenders where appropriate yet gain repentence of those very same people and at the same time, never give them an opportunity for a repeat offense.

    For what it is worth, scripture says man is not to lay with man as with woman and the same for women. The challenge is to follow the scripture and be obedient. One may say I have feelings one way or another but what I want isn’t the issue. If a religion is God centered, He is calling the shots. It is His plan. So it is for the cardinals and other leaders to keep things in proper alignment. If the humans need to be cast out like the money lenders, the house needs to be cleaned. One thing they should not fear is losing people when they are doing what they should be doing.

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  48. Two Cents says:

    homosexuality is one thing, pedophilia is another.
    Catholicism can handle gay priests, but there can be no tolerance of using any position of authority, within or outside of the church, to molest children.
    if they fear cleaning house will “loose” people, there’s no dilemma in my opinion.

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  49. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Jonathan, have you looked around at all at women in the GOP? Just since 2000 you find-

    Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R-WA) assumes a prominent position when she is named deputy permanent co-chairman of the Republican National Convention.

    Judy Martz is the first woman elected governor of Montana, while Melissa Hart (R-PA), Jo Ann Davis (R-VA) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) are the first Republican women elected to the U.S. House from their respective states.

    As vice chairman of the House Republican Conference, Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-OH) is the highest-ranking woman in the U.S. House. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) is vice chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.

    President George W. Bush appoints several women to key positions in his administration, including Condoleezza Rice, the first female National Security Adviser; Gale Norton, the first female Interior Secretary; and, Ann Veneman, the first female Agriculture Secretary.

    Just days before her 105th birthday, Emma Schweer is re-elected tax collector of Crete Township, Ill. Most likely the nation’s oldest elected official, Schweer serves more than 35 years in that office before her death in July 2001.

    Congresswoman Deborah Pryce of Ohio is elected chairman of the House Republican Conference, making her the highest-ranking Republican woman ever to serve in the majority party in Congress.

    Jennette Bradley is elected lieutenant governor of Ohio, thereby becoming the first African-American Republican woman in the nation to serve in that office.

    President George W. Bush appoints Dr. Condoleezza Rice to serve as U.S. Secretary of State, making her the first African-American woman nominated to that position.

    Becky Skillman becomes the first woman elected lieutenant governor of Indiana, while Betty Ireland is the first woman elected to serve in West Virginia’s executive branch of government. Sarah Steelman is the first Republican woman elected state treasurer in Missouri.

    Michele Bachmann is the first Republican woman elected to Congress from Minnesota. Sarah Palin is the first woman elected governor of Alaska.
    Sarah Palin, who was elected the first woman governor of Alaska in 2006, makes history again by becoming the GOP’s first woman vice presidential nominee.

    In an election year that becomes known as the “Year of the Republican Woman,” three Republican women become the first women governors of their states: Susana Martinez of New Mexico, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma and Nikki Haley of South Carolina. Nine Republican women are newly-elected to the U.S. House and one Republican woman is newly-elected to the U.S. Senate. More than a dozen are newly-elected to statewide executive office.

    You want to sit there and point to Nancy Pelosi and Hillary as proof the Dems are more inclusive as far as women? Not Obama- http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/01/10/from_john_kerry_to_chuck_hagel_why_is_obama_backsliding_on_female_appointees.html

    Lets cut to the chase Jonathan, putting women (or blacks or hispanics or gays or asians or whatever) in high level positions is often just politics. It’s using their sex/race/etc to gain some votes and appear to have the high ground. What they should be doing is taking the very best people and supporting them because of the content of their character. Obama is the classic example of this type of politics- an unknown Chicago community organizer who got his Senate seat through the politics of personal destruction and who happened to make one good speech. Bill Richardson of New Mexico was far, far more qualified but who wants an overweight, moderate Democrat Mexican in the Whitehouse? What it came down to was a choice between a white woman and a black man. If the Democrat party is so pro woman, then why didn’t they run Hillary? Why isn’t the Obama cabinet filled with women? Why doesn’t he have a female VP?

    Believe what you want, but there isn’t a nickles worth of difference as far as women go in the 2 main parties.

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  50. Rancid Crabtree says:

    HT- marriage in the western world was traditionally applied to one man, one woman. If what you say is true, then the term marriage should also cover any other permanent union of consenting adults. 3 men/2 women, 7 women/4 men, brother/sister, father/son, whatever floats your boat. Marriage was not a special privilege for straights, it just didn’t apply to any other union. It was what it was.

    Whats laughable is defending the marriage of gays while ostracizing other unions. It makes you a hypocrite.

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