Does Everyone Love Pope Francis? Not Quite: Conservative Catholics Feel ‘Thrown Under the Bus’

The other week, staunch Catholic Bridget Kurt took the Pope Francis prayer card down from her fridge and threw it in the trash.

“It seems he’s focusing on bringing back the left that’s fallen away, but what about the conservatives?” said Ms. Kurt, a hospice community educator. “Even when it was discouraging working in pro-life, you always felt like Mother Teresa was on your side and the popes were encouraging you. Now I feel kind of thrown under the bus.”

Pope Francis (via The Telegraph)

That’s from a piece in Sunday’s New York Times that describes conservative Catholics as feeling “abandoned and deeply unsettled.”

They despair that after 35 years in which the previous popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, drew clear boundaries between right and wrong, Francis is muddying Catholic doctrine to appeal to the broadest possible audience.

Wrote Catholic blogger Steve Skojec of recent papal pronouncements (including one that criticized proselytizing as “solemn nonsense”):

Are they explicitly heretical? No. Are they dangerously close? Absolutely. What kind of a Christian tells an atheist he has no intention to convert him? That alone should disturb Catholics everywhere. …

For the life of me, I can’t fathom why anyone faced with the Church of 2013 would choose to convert to Catholicism. For fellowship? I can get fellowship from the local MegaChurch, with far fewer impositions on my personal liberty. For the sacraments? But most Catholics don’t even believe in the Real Presence, most parishes have no adoration or Eucharistic devotions, most priests offer an hour or less per week of confession time on the parish schedule.

Skojec compares Pope Francis (perhaps favorably) to a murderer:

“There have been bad popes in the history of the church… Popes that murdered, popes that had mistresses. I’m not saying Pope Francis is terrible, but there’s no divine protection that keeps him from being the type of guy who with subtlety undermines the teachings of the church.”

I can understand where Skojec is coming from. In eight months, the quiet steamroller that is Pope Francis has done more to drag Catholic theology into the 20th century (not the 21st one yet, perhaps) than his predecessors did in a hundred years. Is that cause for hope or despair? If Francis’ new reign means that harsh, shrill theology gives way to a Church that makes space for humanity, humility, and conciliation, then, as far as I’m concerned, good riddance to the old.

Kurt and Skojec and their fellow conservatives see the pre-Francis Church as an edifice of hold-the-line traditionalism, the only thing that stands between them and a swelling tide of moral relativism and secularization. But two-thirds of Catholics seem to view Francis’s overall focus on human harmony as a positive thing.

Let’s not get carried away. He’s got a ways to go, for instance when it comes to equal treatment for LGBT people.

I wrote earlier that to the extent that Francis causes Catholics to doubt or re-examine their more harmful doctrines, he’s this year’s best and biggest gift to atheists. But I suppose the reverse could also be true. I don’t think he’ll be persuading any outright atheists to become believers — but this Pope, despite his dismissive take on conversion attempts, could well push disillusioned fence-sitters into Catholicism’s fold. This article suggests that the process is already underway.

Maybe the Pope is all about PR and marketing and market share? My much-ignored inner peace-maker hopes my inner skeptic is wrong.

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.

  • Erp

    Francis hasn’t done as much yet as John 23 in dragging the church forward into the 20th century; however, he may have time and will.

    • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      Don’t you mean dragging it forward into the 17th century?

      • busterggi

        Optomist.

  • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    Conservative catholics. Under the bus. Love the imagery.

    • Jeff

      At least they didn’t use the “thrown to the lions” whine….

      • Eliot Parulidae

        Earlier this year my favorite LGBT rights page did something for Holocaust memorial day. It focused mostly on paragraph 175 stuff but also referenced the plight of Jehovah’s Witnesses. One jackass decided to say that he wished the Nazis would come get the JWs out of his neighborhood. Thankfully his comment was deleted, because THAT IS NOT OKAY. We as a community need to come together and be firm on the fact that cheap, cruel humor is not the same thing as black humor.

    • joey_in_NC

      Really, why do you love that imagery?

      • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        Because dark humor amuses me.

        • joey_in_NC

          Because the imagery of innocent people getting crushed to death underneath an enormous vehicle amuses you?

          • Mick

            See, it buggers up the joke when you try to analyse it.

            • joey_in_NC

              So what’s the “joke” now? Please explain.

              • Matt D

                It’s called “Black Comedy”, joey.

                If you’re having trouble understanding the concept, use Wikipedia for the definition, origins, and examples.

                • joey_in_NC

                  It’s called “Black Comedy”, joey.

                  No, it’s called hate speech. What if I told you that I “loved the imagery” of atheists being under the bus?

                • Matt D

                  You can spin it however you want joey. I’m not interested in your ability to make up definitions that suit your religious agenda.

                • Brian Westley

                  Why hello, hypocrite joey_in_NC, have you forgotten some things you’ve written about atheists?

                  Let me refresh your memory:

                  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/09/13/where-should-we-draw-the-line-on-tolerance-for-religious-practices/

                  Of course! Once you stop believing in the inherent human dignity/value of all people (since this belief is completely incompatible with materialist atheism), then history has shown that you are bound for abuses.

                  If it can be reasoned that it is for the greater good of society that these few dissenters are crushed, then why not do it? These few people have no inherent value (given materialism) other than the subjective value assigned to them by society (the majority, or simply what the state says). And if society doesn’t value them, then they’re worthless.

                  PS: Now fuck off.

                • joey_in_NC

                  Wow, I have a follower. I’m blushing.

                  Let me refresh your memory:

                  Lol. And exactly what is your point bring up my past comment? Please explain. This should be good.

                  On a side note, I’m rather satisfied that a person here has actually remembered some of the more meaningful comments that I have posted in the past. Though, that satisfaction gets tempered when I find out the person completely misinterpreted what I said and meant.

                • Brian Westley

                  I might have figured you’d be too stupid to figure out why, Hoffmann, even though I put the reason up front.

                • joey_in_NC

                  So how does my past comment about materialist atheists not believing inherent human dignity of people relate to this discussion?

                • Brian Westley

                  I might have figured you’d be too stupid to figure out why, Hoffmann, even though I put the reason up front.

                • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                  No, it’s called hate speech.

                  Honestly, I question the rationality of anybody who would take what I said, in the context I said it, and treat it as equivalent to hate, or some active assertion that I think we should literally throw catholics under buses. If that’s actually how your mind works, I think you’re a dangerous person.

                • joey_in_NC

                  Honestly, I question the rationality of anybody who would take what I said, in the context I said it, and treat it as equivalent to hate, or some active assertion that I think we should literally throw catholics under buses.

                  Well, if you explicitly tell me people to stop and think about the “imagery” of people under a bus, and saying that you “love” the imagery…I think I got the context pretty well. “Being thrown under the bus” becomes more than some mere expression.

                  If that’s actually how your mind works, I think you’re a dangerous person.

                  I feel the same about you.

                • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                  Until you understand the different between “hate” and “mockery”, you will not get far in philosophical discussions.

                • Carmelita Spats

                  I would laugh. I drive a tank.

            • FTP_LTR

              Analysing a joke is like dissecting a frog. No one cares that much and the frog dies

          • Oswald Carnes

            They aren’t innocent. They’re conservatives. It’s good when bad things happen to evil people.

            • Leah

              I think this is over-generalizing. The majority of my family and my husband’s family are conservative, and none of them are “evil.” In fact, they are very kind, giving, loving, sacrificing people. Maybe they see liberals the same way you see conservatives. Does that mean you’re evil?

            • baal

              I disagree entirely. It’s bad for bad things to happen to people. If a person or group is harming others, all we have a right to is stopping the harm.

            • 3lemenope

              It’s nice to know just who considers me evil. This sort of “heads-up” is one of the primary reasons I value robust freedom of speech.

            • joey_in_NC

              They aren’t innocent. They’re conservatives. It’s good when bad things happen to evil people.

              Well, this is exactly the type of reasoning I expected from the initial comment. I was simply trying to get it out of the original commenter.

          • busterggi

            I’m reading all you comments in my best Joe Pesci voice from now on.

          • 3lemenope

            It is a pretty common (and disgusting) theme in historical Christianity that people in Heaven derive amusement, pleasure, and satisfaction from the suffering of those in Hell. Even without that explicit tradition, there’s enough in the Bible (e.g. the parable of Lazarus and the Wealthy Man) that makes the repose of Heaven-dwelling souls observing Hell without compassion or possibility of relief an unavoidable one.

            Let he who is without sin, yadda-yadda-yadda.

          • Carmelita Spats

            Ahhh, small children…nature’s speed bumps. As an atheist, I eat them for breakfast.

        • baal

          I fear I’m with Joey on this one. Imagining your foes in imaginary bad places is not decent. It’s worse when there is implied or suggested real violence.

          • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

            That’s fine. I’ll bet you hate Monty Python movies, as well. Bring out your dead!

            • baal

              No, I love those. Your original comment, was not full of eeels, however.

          • 3lemenope

            It’s not decent. It can be amusing nonetheless.

            As Mel Brooks once said: Tragedy is when I cut my finger, comedy is when you fall through an open sewer grate and die.

            Emphasis on the pronouns.

  • Sajanas

    I knew something like this would happen. The conservative Catholics have been living the high life, looking down their noses at all the people flooding out of the Catholic church, and all through out this, they were big proponents of “Hey, the Pope said it, its gotta be right, and if you disagree, you aren’t Catholic.”

    Even the smallest hint the current Pope thinks differently completely abolishes their positions. And they know it. If they Pope can change the Catholic doctrine, than they really don’t have any firm base to stand on at all, and they’ve been mouthing off as if they were for 35 years.

    • Rationalist1

      Previous popes have decimated the left wing of the Catholic Church, maybe this one will do the same for the right wing.

      Don’t look him to change Catholic doctrine (re-interpret some perhaps) but watch if he starts teaching, and enforcing, Catholic social teachings. The conservatives will freak.

      • joey_in_NC

        Do you think conservatives “freaked” when B16 published Caritas in Veritate?

        • Rationalist1

          With statements in it like “Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty. “, it might have caused them concern, but they knew they wouldn’t be called out on it. With this pope they might.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    Fine; he is more P.R.-friendly than other recent popes.

    But in the big picture, his job is the essence of endorsing/promoting *FAITH*, which is a terrible way to discern reality and thus leads to countless unforeseen bad decisions by our fellow humans every day.

    Thus, he is no rock star in my book. He and his entire institution do LOTS of harm in the world.

  • cary_w

    So it appears these conservative Catholics don’t believe their own dogma. I mean, if you truly believe that the Catholic Church is the one true church, then isn’t the pope divinely inspired? Doesn’t he speak for God? How dare those blasphemous heratics question the pope! Shouldn’t they have faith that he is correct and follow his every word??!?

  • Rationalist1

    Despite this pope’s more pastoral, human approach I can’t see him changing any Catholic teachings on the sexual morality are. What he may start doing is emphasizing the Catholic Church’s rather progressive teachings on social justice issues.

    If this pope ever read from Rerum Novarum (a 1890 encyclical), he’d be branded a communist by many conservative Catholics. It is amusing to see conservative Catholics dispute the Church’s teaching that workers have the right to unionize, that workers must be paid a livable way and that capital punishment is wrong. They had no problem with sexual morality, but become “Cafeteria Catholics” on the social justice teaching.

    It’s also amazing to see how many conservative Catholics didn’t know the Church declared the war in Iraq as an unjust war. The pronouncement is on the Vatican.va site.

    That said, women will still be excluded from the priesthood, contraception will always be wrong, abortion is forbidden in all cases and divorced Catholics will not be able to remarry. That will not change.

    The one thing that could change tomorrow is allowing diocesan clergy to marry. But the Church won’t as it would cause them to lose face and cost too much money.

    • MN Atheist

      Divorced catholics can remarry. They simply need an annulment for the first one…

      • Rationalist1

        But an annulment means they were never married (in the eyes of the Church) so they are not remarrying. Isn’t Canon law fun?

        • islandbrewer

          Beheading used to be an option, too. Do Catholics still do that? Sorry, I haven’t been keeping up. They may have changed in the past few centuries.

      • Leah

        I don’t know if “simply” is the right term. My neighbors remarried within the Catholic church, but the annulment process before that took years and a lot of money. And, even though they had been married officially in a different church for several years, they had to remain celibate while the annulment was pending.

        • Rationalist1

          A number of years ago our mayor who was a divorced Catholic wanted to marry the niece of our Archbishop. That annulment went through very quickly.

          • Leah

            Surprise, surprise.

            • Rationalist1

              He ended up cheating on her and is now married to someone else.

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          A friend of mine is waiting for the annulment process to finish for his fiancee. It’s been years now, and there’s no guarantee it’ll finish in the next year though the end is, apparently, in sight. It’s a sucky process.

  • Eliot Parulidae

    “It seems he’s focusing on bringing back the left that’s fallen away, but what about the conservatives?” said Ms. Kurt, a hospice community educator. “Even when it was discouraging working in pro-life, you always felt like Mother Teresa was on your side and the popes were encouraging you. Now I feel kind of thrown under the bus.”

    Keep crying. Your tears are delicious and full of electrolytes.

    • paulmoloney

      “Keep crying. Your tears are delicious and full of electrolytes.”

      I plan to steal that.

      Have to say I find the idea of a hospice worker inspired by Mother Teresa (who thought pain was beautiful) worrying.

      P.

    • Mitch

      Like Brawndo (The Thirst Mutilator), tears have what plants crave.

    • qbsmd

      If only Jesus had taught a parable about this type of situation, perhaps titled “the guy who leaves and comes back later” or “the prodigal Catholic” or something. Maybe people would take religious righters more seriously if they knew what their religion says. Probably not, but maybe.

  • Octoberfurst

    I can’t help but feel a bit of schadenfreude when listening to conservative Catholics whine about Pope Francis not being as right-wing as they are. It seems like Pope Francis wants the church to focus more on the poor and oppressed and not be so obsessed with fighting gay rights and abortion. Oh the horror!

    All through the 20th century conservative Catholics have known that the Pope had their back when it came to issues like gay marriage, abortion, contraception, etc. They could always use the Pope’s authority as their battering ram when it came to dealing with Catholics who questioned the church’s teachings. Now–not so much. This new Pope seems rather liberal—well, at least more liberal than his predecessors—and it is freaking them out. Now liberal Catholics can say, “Well the Pope says…..” Oh the joyous irony of it all. I’m truly enjoying this.

    • Rationalist1

      They didn’t mind when the Church was preaching sexual morality that didn’t really affect them, but when the Church starts affecting their pocket book, that’s another story.

  • MsC

    Would Ms. Kurt like some Desitin for that case of wailing butthurt? Oh, gee, the Church’s mean girls aren’t the prom queen anymore. But they still rule the school behind the scenes. Doctrine is unchanged. Gays are still OMG TEH EVUL and women are still either mothers, nuns or sluts. Mother Theresa is still on track for sainthood and not the garbage scow of history where she belongs. So Ms. Kurt and Co. can spare us the pity party.

  • Sven2547

    Pope Francis: “Maybe Catholics shouldn’t be douchebags.”
    Douchebags within Catholicism outraged.

    • MineApostasy

      And with a pronouncement of “don’t be a dick” the gospel according to Wheaton becomes canon.

      (Love the icon, by the by.)

  • Rain

    Are they explicitly heretical? No. Are they dangerously close? Absolutely.

    He must be the Antichrist. They should be thrilled out of their minds. The 2000 year wait is over. Now they can destroy the world and then take it over or something. However the theology goes. Brilliant theology.

  • AndreWaters20

    “I can get fellowship from the local MegaChurch, with far fewer impositions on my personal liberty.” Personal liberty? Is that what you get from being a catholic or a christian? This comment is very illuminating. Worshiping a christian god is about obedience not personal liberty. As long as what the church is saying jibes with this persons beliefs & desires, everything’s cool, but once they’re told to stop judging gays and do good for the poor, the pope is infringing on their personal liberties.

    • allein

      Gee, I thought it was the government not praying and such that was the infringement…so confusing…

    • Eliot Parulidae

      What struck me most was how, according to this guy, the only reason to be a Catholic is to feel morally superior to others, and if the pope loosens ethical and intellectual restrictions on Catholics then there is absolutely nothing left. And he thinks we don’t have faith in God…

    • Anna

      I also find it strange that he thinks conservative evangelical megachurches would give him more personal liberty. Those folks keep a tight rein on their followers, too.

  • Pithecanthropus

    I thought the Pope was supposed to be protected by Divine Infallibility… I guess only if you agree with him.

    • OverlappingMagisteria

      Not exactly. Its a common misconception that everything our of the pope’s mouth is infallible.

      He’s only supposed to be infallible when speaking about doctrine and when other obscure and flexible requirements must be met. It’s kind of a “Simon Says” scenario, but with enough squishiness that you can go back and say “well Simon didn’t reaaaaally say…” in case you need to.

      Here’s the mess to untangle, if you’re up for it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papal_infallibility#Conditions_for_teachings_being_declared_infallible

      • Rationalist1

        Interesting it doesn’t include extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

        • Lando

          Now I’m craving Nutella, and thanks to the post below, apples.

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

            Apples + nutella = OMGYUM

            • Lando

              It’s funny, I get hungry all the time, but I never see Joe Kleine at my door with apples and Nutella

      • Jim

        One of the complaints was with regard to doctrine, so infallibility applies.

  • cyb pauli

    What in the catechism has Pope Francis changed? What about the Sacraments has he changed? What has Francis DONE that is even remotely liberal?

    • Rationalist1

      In fact he won’t (or can’t). He just has a more pastoral approach to the same teachings. Nothing has changed and nothing will change in Catholic teachings.

    • eric

      Saying that atheists can go to heaven seems to me a pretty big doctrinal change. Staying within doctrine would have been to invoke deathbed confessions as okay, but he didn’t do that. He’s not referring to atheists that change their mind a the last minute. He’s said that God will forgive disbelief itself, which implies to me that he’s talking about died-an-atheist-atheists being able to get to heaven.

      I agree, however, that pretty much all the other stuff he’s said (such as “who am I to judge?” in response to a question about gays) seems to be just taking a liberal emphasis on current doctrine.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        He didn’t actually say that. What he said was that salvation was available to everyone, even atheists. They just had to accept Jesus Christ to get it, which … sorta defeats the purpose of saying that salvation is available to everyone.

        • KMR

          “If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter,” Francis said. “We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

          Depends on what the “there” is that he was speaking about. If he did indeed mean there to signify heaven (which in reading the whole quote sounds to me like he probably was) then he could simply be an inclusivist in his theology which is certainly not unheard of among some well thought of theologians (CS Lewis for one). In other words, one can accept Jesus without necessarily knowing it is Jesus that you accept.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            That’s not what it sounded like to me. To this somewhat cynical ex-Jew, it sounds like if you do good you’ll then be ripe for Jesus-worship. It sounds to me that the “there” is Jesus-worship, not Heaven. The whole speech makes me think your interpretation is overly generous, especially given the “correction” later issued by the RCC.

            I do agree that inclusivism is a strand of Christian theology, but it’s never been a part of Catholic theology, so I highly doubt Francis was suddenly adding that in.

            • KMR

              Possibly. I admit I tend to be over generous with religious folks since I personally never had any bad experiences with them when I was a theist. I also happen to like the guy. He seems rather nice. But then I fell for John Edwards “no that child isn’t mine” bullshit also.

            • 3lemenope

              I do agree that inclusivism is a strand of Christian theology, but it’s never been a part of Catholic theology…

              Quite the contrary, I’m pretty sure they’re the ones who invented it, and Vatican II (Lumen Gentium) made it pretty explicit.

              • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                It’s certainly possible. I’m no expert on Catholicism. But doesn’t inclusivism get rid of any incentive for, you know, converting? If all good people go to Heaven, why bother with the whole Jesus thing at all?

                • 3lemenope

                  I think the attraction is more, why settle for an imitation when you can get the real thing? If inclusivism is correct, then Catholicism is still better at leading people to salvation than other faiths, and bears the only guarantee of doing so.

                  Shortly, any good person can get into heaven, but all Catholics (in good standing) will get into heaven.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Really? I got the impression that you had to die clean of sin to get to Heaven, so last rites right before you die basically. Otherwise, since everyone sins, you’re actually worse off as a Catholic since if you die suddenly you died in a “sinful” state and are surely doomed.

                • ShoeUnited

                  Final absolution is the last money back guarantee of going to heaven (unless you’re committing a cardinal sin, that won’t get absolved). But no, I grew up in mostly post-Vat.2:PopasticBoogaloo, and yes, it teaches that even the heathens can get into heaven. They just got to be ultra good to get there. It’s how the church rectified people who hadn’t heard of the Mangod Jesus but did good in their life.

                  Yes you can get into heaven as an atheist if you hadn’t heard of Jesus. You can get into heaven if you aren’t catholic. It’s all in there with the ibids and exceptions and tittles.

                  The advantage to being catholic is that you get to go first because you prayed to god the right way. Add on last rites and the other 6 sacraments, etc. etc. You don’t have to worry as hard about going to hell.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Ah. That’s good to know, though not quite what I meant with inclusivism. I presume atheists who have heard of Catholicism and still reject it are pretty screwed?

                • 3lemenope

                  They have weird rules and escape hatches about that, too. Essentially, it only counts as having been witnessed to and rejected if you are in a condition of being capable of accepting salvation. So, if for example you were taught that Catholics were evil or Catholicism was wrong your whole life, your rejection of Catholicism might not count against you since you were not in a state where you could accept the message having been prejudiced against it through no fault of your own.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  How odd. Very interesting rules-lawyering, though.

                  I say this with full approval of rules-lawyering, as an inveterate gamer and person raised in the Jewish tradition.

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

                  And if your rejection is based on your conscience?

                • islandbrewer

                  And if you were raised and baptized Catholic, then became an atheist and rejected Catholicism as an adult, you’re really most sincerely screwed.

                • 3lemenope

                  Pretty much.

                • joey_in_NC

                  And if you were raised and baptized Catholic, then became an atheist and rejected Catholicism as an adult, you’re really most sincerely screwed.

                  I also think that even if you remain “Catholic” and are fully aware of the tenets of the faith, and yet you lead a double life through scandal and hypocrisy, then you are “screwed” even more.

                  In the end I think Catholics will be judged more harshly than non-Catholics, simply because we should know better.

                • islandbrewer

                  In the end I think Catholics will be judged more harshly than non-Catholics, simply because we should know better.

                  That’s a good motivation to not be Catholic. Is there some inverse of Pascal’s wager where you’d be better off not being Catholic so you won’t be judged so harshly? Ah, but I guess merely knowing that puts you on the hook for being held to a higher standard.

                • joey_in_NC

                  That’s a good motivation to not be Catholic.

                  I think it’s simply a good motivation to be a good Catholic.

                • joey_in_NC

                  Final absolution is the last money back guarantee of going to heaven (unless you’re committing a cardinal sin, that won’t get absolved).

                  Don’t forget, Catholics are unique such that they also believe in the doctrine of Purgatory.

      • cyb pauli

        My question is what has the Pope DONE that is liberal. Im not counting lip flapping and cute spin as an action. He is the Vicar of Christ, he can DO more for liberal causes (allegedly) than any human. So I ask again, if Im supposed to accept him as my friend and ally, WHAT HAS HE DONE? What changes is he actively making in Roman Catholicism that should convince me, an atheist raised Catholic, that he is not a liar presiding over an evil institution?

    • busterggi

      I heard he shat in the woods.

      But that may just be a rumor.

    • ShoeUnited

      You could have ended that last sentence before “…that is even remotely liberal”.

  • WallofSleep

    “Even when it was discouraging working in pro-life, you always felt like
    Mother Teresa was on your side and the popes were encouraging you. Now I
    feel kind of thrown under the bus.”

    Wait a damn minute, isn’t the pope supposed to be the blameless, faultless, perfect representative of Christ on earth, hand picked by God himself?

    Sorry, “conservative” catholics, but your own doctrine demands you obey the pope as if he were God on earth. No whining, no bitching, no dissing, and certainly no undermining.

    That there are catholics with a bull horn and an audience that do negatively criticize or characterize this pope, and along these lines, proves to me that for some maintaining their bigotry is more important than maintaining their unusual dogma.

  • trj

    If Skojec et al are dissatisfied with the pope then they’re free to ignore him like most other Catholics do.

  • David McNerney

    “For the life of me, I can’t fathom why anyone faced with the Church of 2013 would choose to convert to Catholicism.”

    • allein

      Damn, you beat me to it. I wanted to read the comments before I posted this. ;)

  • Jeff

    It does not matter the “group”, whether members of Catholicism, fans of the Yankees, Republicans, KKK or any other idea that people associate with (even…gasp….atheism) results in wide opinions within their own ideology. I think colloquially, it is called eating your young. It makes for wonderful theatre.

  • islandbrewer

    Hey! Incontinence among the elderly is nothing to make fun of! Also, there are special undergarments available.

    • Lando

      That’s Mormons with the special underwear, Mister Penguin. Francis is S.O.L.

      Yep… poop joke.

  • Keyra

    The new Pope is down-to-Earth and is probably the best Pope we had so far; if these conservatives think he’s the worst, then they probably haven’t heard of Pope Alexander VI

    • baal

      Comparing down is usually a bad idea. There is always something worse than whatever problem you have at hand to compare to. This means that real issues can end up ignored when they should be addressed.

  • Eli

    I…like Francis; I think him being pope is a good thing. Here’s why. First, I see no reason to doubt Francis’s sincerity on the topics he’s talked about. There are a diversity of views and ideologies within the church (if not so much within the rest of the hierarchy), not everyone who’s a priest is “evil,” and as far as I know, he comes from a background where I’d expect him to understand and support somewhat-more progressive social issues. Not as much as those of us outside would like, but the complaining from conservatives about *their own “divinely-inspired” religious leader* should tell you that even his seemingly modest changes in attitude and direction are huge. (And as a former Catholic, from what I’ve seen, yes, this is huge).

    With that, yes, the Catholic Church has done and continues to do many terrible, terrible things, and yes, a lot of those things most likely won’t change under Francis. However, despite all that, the Catholic Church is still a *huge* influence on the lives of a significant portion of the world. It’s the largest branch of Christianity in the world, isn’t it? I think it’s safe to say most of us here want it to have less of an influence on people’s lives. Therefore, I support any internal changes that make it even a little less harmful while still working to help people remove themselves from it.

    • Keyra

      But who are you to try and pull people away from their faith? If they’re happy, just let them be. It’s the fundies you should be worried about

      • Eli

        Well, actually, I agree. I’m more interested in people thinking for themselves, and if that involves them staying with their religion, OK, as long as they’re not harming others. I supposed I phrased that badly. What I meant was helping people think for themselves rather than just believe whatever the people in charge say.

        • Keyra

          Exactly

      • baal

        The problem is that the fundies tell the ‘everyone else’ where to send their $$ and promise the ‘everyone else’ to the politicians for votes. The only way to stop the worrying harms of the fundies is to strip away their support from the ‘moderates’.

      • Terry Firma

        Don’t forget to make the same admonition to your religious friends: “Who are you to try to convert heretics and unbelievers?”

        In Islam and evangelical / conservative Catholic Christianity, proselytizing and winning souls is a sacred duty. So that’s about three billion people looking to convert others, sometimes at the tip of a sword. But when an atheist says there’s a more rational way to live, that‘s offensive?

      • Glasofruix

        So, uh, when xtians are threathening people into their belief system it’s totally fine, but to try and get some sense into a religious mind is somewhat rude?

  • andries

    conservatives under the bus.. The best place they can be.

  • Keyra

    Perhaps if we followed Jesus’ example of humility, grace and love when dealing with non-Christians, rather than using our faith as a weapon of condemnation, we’d have more of an influence on the culture. These conservative types have spent a long time trying to force (or even legislate) morality changes on people when only God changes the hearts of men. Let’s try putting down the bullhorns and picket signs, pray for God’s mercy and practice a little Matthew 5:16: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”. Jesus was always humble, and the only condemnation he had was reserved exclusively for the religious, holier-than-thou types (Pharisees) of His day, who looked with disgust on those they deemed the worst of sinners. Sounds a lot like Christians today have become the Pharisees, but Christ spent the majority of His ministry with those very sinners. Jesus being our ultimate example… what exactly should we be doing in our community when faced with folks who just so happen to sin differently than we do?

    • Rationalist1

      Actions always work better than words. This pope seems to get that. Same teachings but with a more pastoral approach, plus re-emphasizing the Church’s social teaching (It’s that that has the conservatives fretting so).

    • baal

      Why the down vote? For the general xtians here but especially for Keyra this is a much better point than average. Let’s use positive feedback to guide Keyra to the better path.

      • Noelle

        People down vote for the dumbest reasons. Looks like you get one for defending her. The nerve ;).

      • Mario Strada

        Maybe they are conservative Catholics downvoting him/her?

        • Noelle

          Apparently, use of the up vs. down votes is only used by some as a positive reinforcement behavior modification system. Others must have manufactured their own guidelines. Will continue to study these human subjects to reach a better understanding.

      • busterggi

        Nope, down she goes. I have no interest in saving her lack of soul.

      • Glasofruix

        Because even there you don’t need to use idiotic religion.

        • baal

          I agree that religion is entirely the wrong path and even thinking about looking like you’re caring is better than Keyra’s usual post (where you don’t care about anything except keeping the sky god from throwing a shit fit no matter who is hurt here on earth as a result).

      • Drakk

        I downvote all instances of religious reasoning, even when it’s used to “support” morally or ethically good propositions.

        Reasoning based on religion is invalid, period. It should be treated like the shoddy thinking it is.

    • Vanadise

      I’m sure you mean well, but when I read your post, I think, you haven’t had enough of an influence on the culture already? Really? It’s already nearly impossible to get elected to a political office if you openly admit your religion is anything other than Christian. School boards fight tooth and nail to keep religious iconography and rituals in public schools, and they frequently get away with it. People are shamed and shunned during the winter if they /don’t/ say “Merry Christmas.” You need more influence?

    • Drakk

      Your influence on the culture should wane and vanish, everyone would be much better off.

  • allein

    “What kind of a Christian tells an atheist he has no intention to convert him?”

    The kind that would rather not annoy their friends and neighbors? If you tell me you intend to convert me to your religion, I’m going to avoid you as much as possible.

    • baal

      Alternatively, I’ll take it as open season to start pointing out where their belief and behavior are at odds. Fair is fair.

    • Drakk

      Proselytizing is the only moral course of action for a believer.

      If you actually, sincerely believe that without conversion someone you care about is doomed to a fate of eternal suffering, then the only moral thing to do is to put all the effort you can into the one thing you believe will spare them that fate.

      Those Christians that believe in hell but don’t proselytize either don’t truly believe in hell, or don’t care about the people they claim to (or are just really really numb to cognitive dissonance).

      This is why I despise, but respect, fundamentalists, whereas I afford only contempt to moderates.

      • ShoeUnited

        I would argue the only moral thing you can do is re-evaluate your belief in something that will send your loved ones to hell under any reason. Even Sweden rehabilitates, and they’re only made up of mortal ice giants!

        • Drakk

          Oh, now this I’m not sure I agree.

          Re-evaluating one’s beliefs (that is to say the claims one considers to be true) should only ever occur for one reason – namely, being exposed to evidence that appears to contradict the said belief. A person who believes in hell ought to re-examine that belief because there isn’t any evidence that hell exists, not because “it wouldn’t be nice if it did”.

          Moral considerations shouldn’t factor into the evaluation of truth claims.

          • qbsmd

            If your truth claim involves a morally just entity, then moral considerations should factor in.

            That said, I agree with your original point that given a belief in hell, evangelism is the morally correct behavior. But I also think that the moderates reject the belief that everyone who isn’t in their religion goes to hell, while some of the fundamentalists evangelize while looking forward to seeing everyone they disagree with suffer.

  • Jordan

    Just one more thing about religion I’ll never understand. I thought this guy was infallible? Why do they have any right to be upset? Isn’t the Pope supposed to have a direct line to God? If so, isn’t God effectively telling all his conservatives they are wrong?

    • Rationalist1

      Infallibility is only in very specific situations. That said, right or wrong, Catholics need to assent to every teaching of the Church.

    • Peter Hardy

      I have no idea where this ‘direct line to God’ thing atheists often say comes from. It’s nowhere in Catholic teaching and never has been.

  • James Stevenson

    So from demeaning fellowship by saying the catholic version is just what other churches offer plus additional impositions on personal liberty. And questioning the lack of divine protection apparent on the current pope… is he basically admitting that Catholicism’s purity is measured by how oppressive its leadership is?

    • Peter Hardy

      Admitting that her view of it is, yes.

  • Leiningen’s Ants

    WAAAAIT WAAAAIT WAAAIT WAAIT WAIT!!

    You mean to tell me nobody is going to remark about her thinking Mother Teresa was a “‘Good Person’ to have in your corner?”

    HAA~!! &lt/Ms.Crabapple&gt

    • baal

      I agree with you but am sort of commented out on the topic. There are only so many times that I feel the need to point out her ‘hospitals’ were more awful places than most horror movies. It’s like compassion fatigue. It is always a point worth making though. Most folks are still unaware of what a monster she was.

      • Peter Hardy

        They were never intended to be hospitals. That is a misunderstanding. They were hospices where the sisters provided spiritual care to -mostly terminally- ill people who would otherwise have died alone on the street.

        • baal

          No. They could have provide care or at least pain meds (they had the funds) and they did not. The care dollars went straight to the RCC coffers. The entire edifice was a paean of suffering to show the devotion of the worshipers. That’s sick and grotesque.

          You have some non-RCC evidence that the suffering human beings were only the old and terminally ill?

          • Peter Hardy

            Do you have any non-anti-catholic evidence that they weren’t?

            • http://confessionsfromthepeanutgallery.blogspot.com/ YankeeCynic

              That’s an interestingly construcred challenge. Wouldn’t any evidence demonstrating this be by its nature anti-Catholic?

        • Carmelita Spats

          Spiritual care? What the fuck is that? They could have had hospitals instead of convents in Ireland. Redemptive suffering turned the “hospices” into hell holes and the biggest open hell hole was Mother T. It was never about “the poor”, it was about opening her yammering maw for a mouthful of Savior on Sundays. She believed she was married to a 2,000-year-old virgin carpenter and she inflicted her sexual frustration on others.

  • DougI

    What’s the big deal about the Pope? It’s not like he’s actually improved anything concerning church doctrine. Just a few nice phrases and the church continues it’s backward legacy.

  • Jim

    ” there’s no divine protection that keeps him from being the type of guy who with subtlety undermines the teachings of the church.”

    Why is this guy a catholic if he doesn’t believe that the Pope is infallible?

  • TheG

    Why is it that when the Pope redefines Church teachings in a way that a conservative agrees with it is “clarifying the Church’s stance”, but if the conservative disagrees, it is “almost certainly bordering heresy”?

    Isn’t he the Pope? Doesn’t he get to be the authority on when it is heresy or not?

    Maybe I’m just dreaming, but I would love to see the Pope Frank come along and excommunicate all these hard-liners for questioning his wisdom.

  • Dave The Sandman

    Ms Kurt and Mr Skojec preferred the reign of the Pope most associated with directly covering up the sex abuse crimes of kiddy fiddling priests and scum like Marciel.
    Says it all really eh?
    Now tell me Ms Kurt, that being the case….why the hell do you think I give a flying f@ck how butt hurt you are?

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    It’s not just the conservative Catholics. I know this is a shameless plug, but I’m not a fan of Francis either, nor of his Panem et Circenses publicity ploys.

    http://theirishatheist.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/why-im-not-a-pope-francis-fanboy/

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    I don’t love him, but I don’t think I hate him. I just don’t like how he is getting people to look at an institution that is causing damage in third world nations to like them again. I know it won’t happen in my life time, but I was hoping for the collapse of the catholic church on the world stage.

  • Anna

    I don’t think he’ll be persuading any outright atheists to become believers — but this Pope, despite his dismissive take on conversion attempts, could well push disillusioned fence-sitters into Catholicism’s fold.

    This is exactly why I dislike Francis. He’s getting moderates and liberals to suddenly think that the Catholic church isn’t so bad, that maybe it’s changing or that there’s hope for change, which could not be further from the truth. It’s surely not a good thing if this Pope is spurring lapsed Catholics to return to the church. At least with an awful person like Benedict in power, there was no danger of that.

  • Rain

    But most Catholics don’t even believe in the Real Presence, most parishes have no adoration or Eucharistic devotions, most priests offer an hour or less per week of confession time on the parish schedule.

    Who cares? That’s why there are protestants. Because nobody cares about that crap. Lol.

  • http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~edmin/Pamphlets/ NebulaSpike

    Does anyone else think that Pope Francis looks like a cross between Peter Sellers and Stan Laurel? He needs to wear a tie to wave at people.

  • Soren

    Now if only he would do something about all the pedo-priests….

  • 3lemenope

    What I always come back to is this: the conservatives in the RCC perceive him as a mortal threat. People don’t generally react like panicked animals unless they have decent perceived reason to, so I’ll take it as some preliminary evidence that the new boss really isn’t exactly the same as the old boss.

  • SJH

    Calling these people conservative Catholics is a misnomer. They are uneducated Catholics. Pope Francis has not changed any teachings of the Church. He is simply communicating it in a more sensitive way with different priorities. Catholics, especially conservatives, that understand the Church know this and love Pope Francis for it.

    Also, the fact that you don’t see this leads me to believe that you do not understand the Church either since the Church has taught the same thing for centuries. It has not moved into the 20th century because it has not moved at all. Pope Francis is simply communicating in a way that reveals the fact that you agree with the 2000 year old Church more than you realize.

    • 3lemenope

      Also, the fact that you don’t see this leads me to believe that you do not understand the Church either since the Church has taught the same thing for centuries.

      LOL.

      Pope Francis is simply communicating in a way that reveals the fact that you agree with the 2000 year old Church more than you realize.

      Supernaturalism aside, I don’t think you’ll find a whole lot of atheists that have strong feelings against the teachings of the social gospel, seeing as how it’s chock full of common-sense stuff like, you know, protect the weak, provide for the needy, uplift the oppressed, criticize the powerful, all that good stuff. It’s just that Wheaton’s Rule has the RCC’s precious catechism in these matters well-beaten for brevity. If these moral teachings are the great gift of the church to the world, it’s not impressive–not because of its content, which tends to be fair-to-decent–but because of its utter lack of originality and its sheer obviousness.

      What you will find is criticism of the church betraying its stated principles, covering up misdeeds, fellating the powerful, being covetous and greedy, manipulative and controlling of its members, dismissive of their criticisms (much less those from outside the church), and using cheap moralizing as a distraction from addressing any of these matters. You know, just like the Pharisees. The disjunction between word and action is so stark that seeing a pope hug a guy compassionately is enough to bring out the dyspepsia in the moralists and signs of relief in critics.

      That’s. Bad. No two ways about it. The bar is that low.

      • joey_in_NC

        Supernaturalism aside, I don’t think you’ll find a whole lot of atheists that have strong feelings against the teachings of the social gospel, seeing as how it’s chock full of common-sense stuff like, you know, protect the weak, provide for the needy, uplift the oppressed, criticize the powerful, all that good stuff.

        All that stuff is a “chock full of common-sense” now after 2000 years of Christian influence in the Western world. It can be argued that even in this current day and age the social gospel still is not “common-sense stuff” and “sheer obviousness” in certain parts of the world (mainly in the Far East and Middle East) where Christianity has not had a predominant influence in culture/society, or at least has long been forgotten.

        Also, in the West things could be much more different if we had chosen to follow what Nietzsche described as “master morality“, as opposed to Christian “slave morality”. For all we know, things could have turned out much differently the last hundred or so years such that in many places in the West we’d now be saying that the “common-sense stuff” is valuing notions such as strength, pride, power, and nobility as opposed to charity, humility, charity, and sympathy.

        What you will find is criticism of the church betraying its stated principles…

        Which is fair. There will always be hypocrisy and sin. What is not fair is focusing entirely on the hypocrisy of Christian people, and completely ignoring the genuine goodness that flows from Christians through their faith. That is real.

      • SJH

        I would like to echo what joey_in _NC stated in his response. These values only seem common sense because they have been so ingrained in our world view which is wholly based upon Christian thinking. Before Christianity, these values were much less common and were in many ways completely alien to the common world view. In this way, Christianity brought a completely revolutionary way of thinking to our world and deserves a great deal of credit.

        Also, I understand that there is disagreement with many of the teachings of the Church however it is not those teachings that are in question here. Terry Firma is specifically discussing those teachings that many atheists and liberals seem to find themselves in agreement.

  • Dan Dorfman

    Mother theresa was a hag that glorified in human suffering, one whose image was distorted into something benevolent as a MARKETING TOOL, in other words, “appealing to the broadest possible audience”. What hypocrites, all for the broad audience as long as the figureheads are behind them, all for doctrine as long as it supports their views, all for drawing the lines between “good” and “bad” so long as it guarantees the status quo of a backwards age rather than being reasonable and decent. They’re drunk on power, high on the feeling of superiority, and like a kid facing the loss of a favorite toy, they’re losing their shit instead of giving up ground.

  • Keulan

    Those conservative Catholics have nothing to worry about. Francis still holds the same bigoted, backwards views as the previous pope, and he isn’t doing anything to change Catholic doctrine. He’s just better at PR than Benedict XVI ever was.

  • the moother

    Poor ol’ cath-o’-licks feel thrown under the bus? Well, this figurative sentense is far lighter than, say, being burned at the stake.

  • Dan Robinson

    A pope with a kindly face is still a pope ferchrissakes.

    “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”

  • anon ;)

    If they’re that pissed off at Pope Frank, then there’s the door. I’m sure the Westboro Baptist Church would love to have them among their ranks. Or they could always try Islam. Just sayin’.


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