New Pope Same as the Old Pope?

by Stephen H. Miller on February 12, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, has announced he will retire. As the Washington Blade reminds us:

He wrote in a 1986 letter that gay men and lesbians are “intrinsically disordered.” Benedict also said in the same document that gay organizations could no longer use church property. The Vatican’s ongoing opposition to condom use as a way to stop the spread HIV/AIDS has also sparked outrage among advocates.

Anything’s possible, but like his predecessor, Benedict/Ratzinger has stacked the College of Cardinals with hardline reactionaries such as himself, so it might take a miracle for a cardinal not committed to anti-gay, anti-sex philosophy to move forward.

How powerful the Roman church remains is shown by what happened recently in France. As AFP reports:

With opinion polls having consistently shown that a comfortable majority of the French support gay marriage, [Prime Minister] Hollande could never have anticipated that a promise he made in his election manifesto last year would generate so much controversy. A campaign orchestrated by the Catholic church and belatedly backed by the mainstream centre-right opposition steadily gathered momentum throughout the autumn and culminated in a giant protest in Paris last month.

Sowing fear and loathing of religious and sexual minorities, and of the natural expression human sexuality not rigidly controlled by church and state (and reaping the product of such repression, including generations of clerical pedophiles) has been the unfortunate history of the church of Rome.

{ 22 comments }

Jorge February 12, 2013 at 10:46 pm

Sowing fear and loathing of religious and sexual minorities

I realize the likelihood is remote of anything tasteful being said at a time like this on such a virulently anti-Catholic website, but that doesn’t mean you need to spread outright falsehoods. What religious minorities? Pope Benedict has spent almost his entire papacy reaching out to other religions.

I don’t remember you making such charges about fear and loathing being spread about sexual and religious minorities with the whole Boy Scouts backlash that’s being driven by non-Catholic religions. The end of that story remains to be seen.

I see quite the reverse happening on the internet: fear and loathing is being spread about the Catholic Church. Now I realize most American gays don’t favor the democratic approach when it comes to achieving our rights–and we can see here why. Earning privileges through the back-door approach of the courts instead by merit through persuasion and public opinion allows the self-annointed spokesmen of all that is right and good to demean and condemn those who try to assert their opposition through the free speech and debate that is the hallmark of popular democracy.

The Catholic Church is not going to bow to the whims of such faithless and capricious attitudes toward civil rights as yours. Get over it.

Houndentenor February 12, 2013 at 11:45 pm

Hilarious. To mention democracy with regards to the least democratic institution on earth.

As I’m not Catholic, none of this should matter to me. But the Catholic Church isn’t content to keep its dictates to it’s own membership. No, they fund (indirectly but it’s still their money) laws that will affect those of us who have never belonged to their church. So it does affect me.

And what’s why the anti-Cathoic bullshit? The current pope worked tirelessly to prevent child rapist priests from being brought to justice. That’s criminal and were he not in the clergy he’d be in jail. That’s not anti-Catholic. That’s not putting a criminal above the law because of his religion. it’s despicable that people hide behind their church to get away with such horrendous crimes. He should be held to a higher standard, not given a free pass. And if you can’t see that, you are part of the problem of a decades-long scandal that stood by and let children be raped again and again.

I don’t expect the church to bow to any “whims”. It can’t even stop repeat offenders from raping children. I don’t expect any church official to have any respect for the rights of anyone. What I do expect is for the church to stop manipulating the law as it affect me, someone who is not a member of their church.

another steve February 14, 2013 at 10:37 am

What religious minorities? Pope Benedict has spent almost his entire papacy reaching out to other religions.

How about 2000 years of virulent anti-semiticism, inquisitions, large-scale executions of protestants and genocidal campaigns against other dissenters, culminating in something between silence and collaboration during the Holocaust? And how big a pass should we give the former Hitler Youth, Third-Reich infantryman?

Jimmy February 14, 2013 at 5:37 pm

“I realize the likelihood is remote of anything tasteful being said at a time like this on such a virulently anti-Catholic website”

One of your most ridiculous, self serving comments.

“Earning privileges through the back-door approach of the courts instead by merit”

Equal protection under the law is my right, it’s not a privilege, like driving a car.

You last thought makes no sense, but it was still self-righteous.

Jorge February 15, 2013 at 8:23 am

Equal protection under the law is only a right if it’s a protection that actually has meaning.

Saving a few thousand dollars on your tax return is not such a thing.

I may be self-righteous and downright arrogant, but at least I’m not stupid.

How about 2000 years of virulent anti-semiticism, inquisitions, large-scale executions of protestants and genocidal campaigns against other dissenters, culminating in something between silence and collaboration during the Holocaust? And how big a pass should we give the former Hitler Youth, Third-Reich infantryman?

Wow. I didn’t know the Pope was 2000 years old. And all this time I thought his childhood drafting into the Third Reich was a war crime. But in reality, he’s Jesus in disguise! Hai Papa!

Jimmy February 15, 2013 at 9:11 am

“Equal protection under the law is only a right if it’s a protection that actually has meaning. Saving a few thousand dollars on your tax return is not such a thing.”

So crass. You don’t get to tell other people what their relationships mean to them, especially if you are as disordered as your church says you are.

Jorge February 15, 2013 at 8:41 pm

You are conflating the right to marry with the privilege of a state recognizing marriage.

If two people say they are married, they’re married. God is the only witness to the marriage that counts.

But it does not follow that if God is a witness to a marriage, that the couple gets to automatically tell the state what their relationship means to the state. That is the state’s decision.

Houndentenor: I’m not willing to discuss with you why this is an anti-Catholic website. I have pointed out that the statements made in the blog posting are outrageously false. This doesn’t seem to be a topic that interests you. I can humor your attitude toward my religion for a little bit. I cannot continue this conversation with you.

Jimmy February 15, 2013 at 11:42 pm

“If two people say they are married, they’re married. God is the only witness to the marriage that counts.”

And that BS will mean squat in the real world, the one the rest of us inhabit. The state says who is married and who isn’t. The state is bound by a constitution that guarantees equal protection to the citizens of that state/nation.

Jorge February 15, 2013 at 8:32 am

I mean seriously, another steve, thank you for pointing you to me just how anti-Catholic Mr. Miller’s post was, because I kinda thought he was talking about the current pope with his religious minorities crack. Because it seriously makes no sense. Both this Pope and the last have made tremendous strides in the fostering of religious dialogue and tolerance. You want religious tolerance, look to that church that forced somone to apologize because he took part in an interfaith service after the Sandy Hook massacre. The Catholic Church instead has been a model of inter-faith dialogue and tolerance, as demonstrated by the Pope visiting a mosque (I believe the first pope to do so) and a US synogague and the last Pope making trips to the wailing wall (or whatever it’s called). But that’s simply not going to compute to the arrogant bigots who take sides first and then arrange the facts to suit their pre-determined conclusions. To the extent that they do such a thing, they will lose power and not be taken seriously, and they will make mistakes in other areas as well.

So go ahead and keep looking stupid to the world. I will not have any part in it.

Jorge February 15, 2013 at 8:34 am

You want religious tolerance, look to that church that forced somone to apologize because he took part in an interfaith service after the Sandy Hook massacre.

Should read “you want religious intolerance…”

Houndentenor February 15, 2013 at 3:47 pm

I see. So any criticism of any action by the Catholic Church or anyone in the church is “anti-Catholic”. I see this all the time. Anyone who criticizes, no matter how valid the criticism, is attacking the church. You circle your wagons, blame the accusers and nothing changes. It’s why decades into the child rape scandal almost no individual has been held legally responsible for raping children or knowingly transferring rapists to a new parish where they committed exactly the same crimes again. And victims of those crimes were most often ostracized by their parish for daring to speak out. Tell me again about the “benevolence” of this organization.

Shadow Chaser February 12, 2013 at 11:18 pm

As a practicing Catholic, I would like to remind everyone that among white Christians in the U.S., Catholics support legal recognition of same sex couples at a higher rate than white mainline Protestants or white evangelicals.

Hispanic Catholics support marriage equality at a higher rate than Hispanic evangelicals.

You might be surprised how much support there is for gay right samong Catholic Americans. I don’t mean the members of the hierarchy, many of whom are trying to make Brownie points with the Vatican; nor do I mean those members of the clergy who too busy climbing the clerical ladder to remember what it is to be Christ-like.

I am talking about the Catholics in the pews, those men and women who attend Mass on the weekend, who put money in the collection plates and who volunteer their time and energy to the activities in their parishes. They have friends and family who are gay and lesbian and are supportive such issues as marriage equality, adoption rights for same sex couples, etc.

I am talking about the members of Religious communities who teach, who nurse, who serve the poor and who see equality for all as a social justice issue.

Believe it or not, there are priests who are actively or passively supporting gay rights as well as roles for gay men and lesbians in the Catholic Church. I can tell you than many priests don’t say a word when I tell them that I am gay when I am in the confessional.

Will the next pope be gay friendly? Probably not. Will the Timothy Dolan march in the next gay pride parade? I doubt it. Will Catholic bishops in Illinois back the marriage equality legislation? I don’t think so.

We are slowly winning over the people in the pews, the Religious in convents, monasteries and friaries, students in Catholic schools and universities.

In Catholicism, the only unforgivable sin is despair. The Catholic Church defines despair as the loss of hope. I refuse to give into despair. I remain hopeful

JohnInCA February 16, 2013 at 8:45 pm

Maybe I’m just bitter, but there’s one very important thing you *didn’t* bring up.

That all those gay-friendly American Catholics have stopped supporting an institution that is actively anti-gay. In fact, you kinda made a point of saying that all these gay-friendly Catholics are actively helping the actively anti-gay Church, regardless of their personal gay-friendly views.

I’m not sure a knife feels any better when it’s delivered with a apologetic smile.

Don February 13, 2013 at 10:27 am

The Catholic Church is a very sad conundrum for me. The personal transformation that one goes through as a result of adhering to the dictates of Christ’s actual teachings is profound. And so many of the priests and members of the Church do it and this is a much better world for it. But the hierarchy has lost its way. Strict adherence to the ideas is how one gets to freedom of conscience, but dogma is the devil hiding in that path. It is hard for me to judge them too harshly as I have found myself causing others pain by insisting I am right. It is simply the same error, albeit they have committed it on a scale heretofore unseen. Dogma is a trap. Even nonbelievers fall for it. Adherence to principle is laudable, but sooner or later every principle hits a buzz saw. I believe free markets and democracy are the best way to organize a society. But one only need look at 2008 to see how that can go awry. Doubling down when your dogma isn’t working is exactly what we’re getting in conservative politics and religion. But I do not relish whacking them for sex abuse scandals and bankrupting the country. I am simply hoping they wake up and realize their error before they cause more suffering. I just don’t see that happening any time soon. And for that, I am sad not mad.

Houndentenor February 13, 2013 at 3:51 pm

I’m not sure much transformation people have had when they are more concerned about the reputation of the church and less on protecting children from rapists. And that goes for the parishioners as well as the clergy. The conversations as the scandals were breaking were baffling. If the church is no better about this that secular organizations (see: Penn State) then one has to question whether people actually believe what they claim to believe or if they just like the idea of what they believe and like to hear themselves saying they believe it. If I really believed in the wrath of a supreme being I’d be a lot more scared of that wrath than of what they’d say about my church on CNN. Sorry, but I call BS on 99% of the supposedly religious people in this country. I hear what you say, but I also see what you do and the actions negate the words almost all the time.

Jorge February 13, 2013 at 9:03 pm

Hilarious. To mention democracy with regards to the least democratic institution on earth.

If only all autocratic governments were so benevolent.

But the Catholic Church isn’t content to keep its dictates to it’s own membership. No, they fund (indirectly but it’s still their money) laws that will affect those of us who have never belonged to their church. So it does affect me.

That’s about as silly as saying that men shouldn’t have any right to ban women from killing fetuses because they never become pregnant.

There is a word for what you are describing. It is called democracy.

I give money to exert my will over people who will never share my values or experiences. This is something everyone has the right and power to do. There is no reason why some people who are part of the world and national community should be excluded in decision-making about things that affect the world and national community over such an insignificant thing as what God they believe in.

Sorry, but I call BS on 99% of the supposedly religious people in this country. I hear what you say, but I also see what you do and the actions negate the words almost all the time.

Gooooooood evening, Houndentenor.

I’m wondering if you’d let me stab you in the back, twist the knife, and plunge it yet again? Would that be wrong?

Houndentenor February 14, 2013 at 11:41 am

That’s my observation of most religious people in this country. Your experience may be different. I can only say what I have observed.

Jimmy February 14, 2013 at 5:45 pm

“If only all autocratic governments were so benevolent”

What is so benevolent about an organization bent on keeping women in the third world poor and pregnant? Astoundingly arrogant.

Doug February 14, 2013 at 6:36 pm

If the Catholic Church wants to participate in political democracy they should give up, or lose, their tax exempt status otherwise keep out of politics.

TomJeffersonIII February 14, 2013 at 10:40 am

—What religious minorities?

Well, as a Catholic myself allow me to point out just a few things;

Well, historically the Catholic Church was not especially kind to folk that were not Catholic — especially Jewish folk — or to folk that were Christian but felt that maybe the earth was not the center of the universe…

More recently, Pope Benedict did make some rather lame comments about Muslims. They were needlessly crude and very counterproductive.

Shadow Chaser February 16, 2013 at 12:50 am

The Catholic Church is a democracy … people vote with their feet.

One factoid I heard is this: one in three Catholics will leave the Church.
Or as the joke goes: The first largest religious group in the U.S. is the Catholics, the second largest is the ex-Catholics.

Hunter February 19, 2013 at 6:48 pm

One point that the post didn’t mention in highlighting the anti-marriage campaign in France: after this campaign by the “very powerful” Catholic Church, the marriage/adoption bill passed the Chamber of Deputies by a 100-vote margin.

If this is an example of the Church’s power, I’d say keep up the good work.

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