Jamila Bey Talks Catholicism

My dear friend Jamila Bey appeared on the show Crosstalk on Russia Today this week to talk with two religion professors about the Pope Benedict’s resignation and the future of the Catholic Church. There’s a really interesting discussion about the differences between the church hierarchy and the local churches in many places and how diverse the church really is. As always, Jamila is thoughtful and eloquent.


I think this discussion of trying to make the church more democratic and more like the rank and file is fascinating. To what degree can a church do that and still retain its identity? Surveys show that rank and file Catholics simply do not believe most of the doctrines and dogmas of the church and they haven’t for quite some time.

But of course, the Catholic Church has changed over the centuries. The Inquisition is gone, as are the pogroms. It changes over the course of centuries, not years or even decades, but the current scandals over the rape of children and the battles between the bishops and the nuns may be a transitional moment in the history of the church.

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  • Reginald Selkirk

    I think this discussion of trying to make the church more democratic and more like the rank and file is fascinating. To what degree can a church do that and still retain its identity?

    That will vary from church to church, depending on their doctrine. Some Protestant Christian churches have a tradition that each member is entitled to interpret God’s word (the Bible) in his own way, for example.


    The more centralized, authoritarian churches would have trouble with this, and the Holy Roman Catholic Church is about as authoritarian as they come. Their doctrine is that the hoi polloi can’t be left to interpret the Bible for themselves, they need the assistance of the clergy for that. They claim His Royal Popeness inherits power granted to the first pope, St. Peter, and that he has the right to speak infallibly on matters of faith and morals. These are not doctrines which blend natually with democracy.

  • frankb

    Nancy said that if a billion people are relevant then the church is relevant. So a small part of a billion people make up the church. But if that small part of each person becomes irrelevant then the church becomes irrelevant. Numbers won’t save the church, and those numbers are getting smaller.

    Nancy has hope for change but it is a small hope. John Paul II and Ratzy stacked the house. If the American bishops are a fair example then nothing will change. The denial and cover up is still strong with no sign of weakening.

  • The RCC has changed, a great deal, since my first communion. First it went the way of Vatican II under PJXXIII and to some extent, his successor, PPVI. Then it got yanked back onto the path of ReiKKKteousness by JPII and his Rottweiler, Benny.

    The last two poops are definitely in the “Destroy the village in order to save it” camp. The RCC needs a thorough douching.

  • Michael Heath

    I have respect for people who leave indefensible institutions, but also for those who stay and legitimately fight for authentic reform. Often the latter deserve more of our respect than the former, e.g., Andrew Sullivan and his relationship with Catholicism and the RCC. Christine Whitman’s efforts to moderate the Republican party in the mid- to late-2000s is another example though she clearly lost where such efforts now seem all for naught.

    Sadly, I don’t observe similar efforts from conservative Protestants attempting to reform their denominations most obvious moral defects; I think because they’re boxed-in by the premise the Bible is the inerrant word of God. They simply have no room to maneuver in order to concede what science understands, end their institutionalized misogyny towards females, gays, and the families of gays. And accept the fact there’s no credible moral defense homosexuality is an affliction that demands their being bigots towards gays and their families or morally justifies their continuing their efforts society should bully and ostracize gay people and their families as they do at least the latter in their churches.

  • In all the discussion of cabals and conspiracies and coverups in the Catholic Church (alliterative!), one interesting possibility has been overlooked. I suspect the College of Cardinals might like having an ex-pope on ice, inhibiting the new pope and keeping him in line.

  • Under guessing what’s happening at the Vatican, the Italian press is reporting that Benedict’s resignation was ultimately prompted by an extensive internal report on the intrigue and corruption in the Vatican gay faction. The investigation supposedly traces back to the arrest of the butler for stealing some papal baubles and more significantly to the Vatican, his passing of scandalous documents to the press.

    All of this could well be true. When the the butler was arrested, there was speculation that he was a fall guy, at least to some extent. The investigation would not have been intended to address what the Italian press is calling the “gay faction. Rather, it was about identifying and taking down internal enemies that are part of the bigger story behind the butler. The problem may be that the findings are so scandalous that they gave a lot of leverage to certain people who could go public if they don’t get their way. So, it is possible that retirement was suggested to the pope.

    The idea of a “gay faction” is laughable. It isn’t a faction; it’s nearly the whole Vatican. The actual factions are competing factions within the so-called gay faction.”

    I’ve known a few reliable “reporters” who’ve worked in the Vatican, all gay priests who tell the same stories about the Vatican.

    Also, at the time of the arrest of the butler, I fully expected an eventual papal pardon and secret payoff to buy the butler’s silence. It would have been too easy for the butler to make a financial killing selling his story–a shoe-in for an international best seller, for a guy whose employment future is limited as a consequence of his involvement in the document spill.

  • karmacat

    My mom talks about growing up in the 1940’s and 1950’s. no one at that time would even consider criticizing the Catholic Church. She became more and more disillusioned with the church with time.

  • Michael Heath

    Re Dr. X’s point about a scandal involving gays working out of the Vatican and that revelation possibly motivating Mr. Ratzinger to resign: Here’s the Daily Beast on that story: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/02/22/priests-in-panties.html

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Zeno #5: I suspect the College of Cardinals might like having an ex-pope on ice, inhibiting the new pope and keeping him in line.

    That would be a really bad move. It would remind people of the era of the anti-popes. The Holy Roman Catholic Church does not look back upon this as its shining moment.

  • slc1

    Re Michael Heath @ #8

    The Vatican whitewash machine is denying the stories.


    I’m sure that Bill Donahue will be on TV denying the story and blaming it on the Jews.

  • SLC1,

    Yes, they’re denying the story and they never lie.

  • Michael Heath

    As best as I know, the Vatican has not denied the specific stories I noted in my above-link to the Daily Beast article; that’s one of the reasons this story has legs. The Vatican is instead merely handwaving and using generalities, including the link slc1 provides. Sheesh.

  • Draken

    So the butler did it, but was it in the library, with a paper knife, as I’d predicted?

  • khms

    The Inquisition is gone,

    Well, for some definition of “gone”.

    These days, it’s called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith … and Ratzi was its boss before he got his current job.


    Since the appointment of Cardinal Franjo Šeper in 1968, the head of the dicastery has been titled Prefect. The Pope no longer holds the office of Prefect of the CDF himself. Although Cardinal Ottaviani had served as Pro-Prefect, upon his retirement he was declared Prefect emeritus of the Congregation, and not Pro-Prefect emeritus. The following Prelates have presided over the Congregation as Prefects since then:

    Franjo Šeper (January 8, 1968 – November 25, 1981) (his retirement)

    Joseph Ratzinger (November 25, 1981 – April 2, 2005) (Pope John Paul II’s death) – elected Pope Benedict XVI

    William Levada (May 13, 2005 – July 2, 2012) (his retirement)

    Gerhard Ludwig Müller (July 2, 2012 – present)

    Somehow, Ratzi reminds me of the Russian tendency to promote their spy bosses to overall bosses …