Why is anybody still Catholic? (not a rhetorical question)

Greta Christina once wrote a great blog post called “Why Are You Still Catholic?” But it mostly asked the question rhetorically. Leah Libresco’s conversion got me thinking about what the actual reasons are. I went and took the time to re-read the relevant parts of William Lobdell’s book Losing My Religion, which suggests a number of answers.

Lobdell’s book is about how being a journalist on the religion beat caused him to lose his faith. At one point in his life, he converted to Catholicism, but as he was getting ready to convert he was also one of the journalists involved in breaking the story of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the United States. As a result, the book ends up being not just a compelling personal narrative, but also an excellent guide to the scandals. Now, the reasons people might have for still being Catholic:

1) Outright denial:  Lobdell describes how when he broke the story of Father Michael Harris, he got many angry phone calls from people who refused to believe the truth about their beloved “Father Mike,” despite all the evidence against Harris. My initial thought is that probably few people still think this way after the scandals got such thorough media coverage, but then look at the percentage of Americans who still think Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

2) People think the scandals were just about a few priests: I’ve seen that argument a few times from the Church’s defenders, that there’s a small percentage of predators in every organization. This overlooks the fact that the problem isn’t just the sexual abuse, it’s the fact that it was systematically covered up by the Catholic hierarchy. As Lobdell explains:

The clergy had been trained in a hierarchical culture that valued obedience and loyalty and disdained scandal and secular interference. The priests also had been taught about the power of redemption. So when faced with a priest who had raped a boy, anyone with knowledge of the incident knew to keep quiet. The victim and his family were dealt with in a manner that would avoid scandal—sometimes they were lied to, and other times shamed or threatened into silence. If those tactics didn’t work, a secret financial settlement was offered. Never did the church officials voluntarily report the crime to civil authorities. Sometimes, they transferred the offending priest to an unsuspecting parish, relying on his word that he had repented and wouldn’t sin again. Other times, the priest was sent secretly to a Catholic treatment center, where psychiatrists and psychologists would eventually assure the priest’s bishop that the pedophile was no longer a danger to children. Then the cleric would be quietly put back in ministry. (p. 96)

3) Thanks to media euphemisms, people don’t understand the severity of the crimes: Lobdell explains that in the first case he covered as a journalist, the award in the lawsuit ($5.2 million) seemed excessive. That changed when he sat in on a meeting for survivor’s of priest sexual abuse. But his editors still insisted he write in euphemism:

During my time covering the Catholic sex scandal, I tried in vain to get my editors to use more accurate and graphic descriptions: “child rape” and “sodomy,” to begin with. The more descriptive words in my copy were always changed. They were considered too graphic for a family newspaper. I thought our readers were grown-up enough to handle the more precise description. Molestation or sexual abuse could refer to a child being fondled through layers of clothing. That was bad, but it didn’t compare to violent sex acts performed on children. I always thought there would be less loyalty and more outrage if the laity knew exactly what their molesting priests had done. (pp. 102-103)

Lobdell also notes that the media had no problem being explicit about the allegations against Arnold Schwarzenegger when he ran for governor of California:

I don’t think there’s any conspiracy here; I just think that the very idea of priests sodomizing a boy on an altar until he defecates, or plunging an aspersorium, used to sprinkle holy water, into a girl’s vagina, or a little boy hiding his bloody underwear from his mother was too much for even jaded journalists to consider. (p. 103)

4) People think the problem was just one diocese or a few dioceses. This was Lobdell’s reaction at first. “I wrote off their actions as the work of a single, morally corrupt diocese”  (namely, the diocese in Orange County – p. 109). But that changed for Lobdell when the scandal in the Boston archdiocese hit. It ended up being revealed that similar things were going on in dioceses across the country.

Perhaps most tellingly, though, is the fact that the current Pope, when he was Joseph Ratzinger, was head of the Catholic Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and sent out a letter to all Catholic bishops requiring sex abuses cases to be kept secret. Which brings me to the next point:

5) Has the church reformed?: Sort of. It has new rules about dealing with cases of sexual abuse. But the reforms didn’t come from the inside, they came only after the truth became public and ended up costing the church billions of dollars. Furthermore, as Lobdell points out:

Even today, most of these bishops [the ones responsible for the cover-up] are still in office; some have been promoted and all are revered by the faithful who deferentially call them “shepherds” and, in the case of a cardinal, “Your Eminence.” Cardinal Law, who was run out of Boston by his parishioners and priests, is now the archpriest of St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome and celebrated one of Pope John Paul II’s funeral masses. (p. 142)

6) Giving religion a pass: While I think there’s probably some genuine ignorance about how horrible what really happened was, I think the truth is that if similar scandals had hit any other organization, the organization would be finished. This is a case of religion getting a pass.

And here’s where the Outsider Test for Faith comes in. The Church of Scientology has done a lot of awful stuff, but it’s hard to point to anything it’s done that’s as bad as systematically covering up child rape. Yet most people who know a little about Scientology have no trouble dismissing it as a totally corrupt organization. It’s only familiarity that stops them from doing the same with the Catholic Church.

Two quick questions: I’d definitely like to put this in the book, but where? Does it fit well enough in with chapter 4 (about the Outsider Test for Faith)? Also: I’d like a bit firmer sources for Ratzinger’s role in all of this. Suggestions? I’m considering buying The Case of the Pope, but want to know what else people can recommend.

And of course, any likely factors in people still being Catholic that I’ve missed are welcome.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Please go read up on a papal document called Crimen Sollicitationis issued 50 years ago under authority of “the good pope” John XXIII.

    Ratzinger deserves a lot of blame for a lot of things, but in this case he was just following precedent.

  • RW Ahrens

    I will point out to you a recent story that first broke in Britain, and was picked up by ABC News:

    http://abcnews.go.com/WN/outrage-vatican-declares-ordination-women-grave-crime/story?id=11183098#.T-sfIs0wtoV

    I also wrote about it on my blog, with the same question you pose here, but with the emphasis on asking women that question:

    http://thecyberneticatheist.blogspot.com/2012/06/catholic-insanity-another-level-higher.html

    When the Catholic Church equates the ordination of priests with child abuse, there is something so badly wrong with its sense of values, I wonder how anybody can continue to be associated with it, much less women.

    • RW Ahrens

      Oh, and I would note that when I posted that story on Facebook and asked that question, NONE of my “Facebook friends” who are Catholic took the bait.

      None of them at all. There was an eerie silence that spoke volumes.

      • http://www.culturewarnotes.com Steve

        The Catholic Faith explicitly teaches that everyone is a sinner. Thus, there is no real surprise to see that priests are sinners.

        We aren’t Catholic because we expect priests to be sinless.
        We are Catholic because all of us, priests and laity alike, are sinners.

        If you’ve never done anything wrong, then you don’t need to be Catholic. If you have, then you do.

        I don’t know whether or not you’re perfect.
        I know I’m not.
        Therefore, I am Catholic.

        • meanmike

          Steve,

          I don’t think that anyone is claiming that priests are perfect individuals. In fact, on an atheist blog, that would be something to see. Rather I believe that what is being argued here is that the priests in question, the ones that committed the child rape, we’re not properly dealt with by the institution. The incidents were covered up, the priests shuffled around and presented with new target rich environments. True, everyone makes mistakes, but when a system, especially a system which touts itself as the source for divine moral certainty, ignores or, worse, actively enables something as serious as child molestation, it becomes rather difficult to play the “hey, we’re only human!” card.

        • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

          The question, though, is whether you really have any need for priests who are not just any sinners, but whose sin was covering up child rape on a massive scale.

    • Paul W. (OM)

      RW,

      I may be mistaken, but it’s my impression that the Catholic Church doesn’t “equate” ordaining women with child abuse, in practice—it still considers ordaining women far worse.

      AIUI, priests or bishops involved in ordaining women, or who very publicly defend the practice, will lose their jobs, and may get excommunicated and/or defrocked.

      But bishops involved in harboring pedophiles—which is to say, all of them up until recently, and most current ones—or who defend the Church’s pedophile-harboring policies, are not punished, and are sometimes rewarded, e.g., getting a cushy higher-status job at the Vatican, safe from prosecution, rather than being turned over to the police.

      It seems clear to me that they only crack down on pedophile enablers to the bare minimum extent they think they absolutely have to, while mostly sheltering or even rewarding them, but they go after non-sexists and non-homophobes because they very much choose to.

      And everybody in the organization knows it.

      Who do they rebuke in a big way, and appoint overseers to control? Is it the bishops who systematically and criminally harbored pedophiles for decades, or is it the nuns who aren’t sexist and homophobic enough to suit them, and choose to help the poor and crazy irrelevant shit like that?

      Anybody with half a clue knows that there’s no equating here—not even close—only a lame pretense of one. (As if equating wasn’t lame and horrendous enough in itself.)

      • RW Ahrens

        Oh, I have no doubt you’re right as to their true feelings, but this just puts it out on their sleeves. It was easy to prevaricate, obfuscate and pander to the blind when they didn’t have it written down, but this formalizes their feelings about women in a way that just kicks any apologetics under the bus.

        Yeah, enforcement will show the relative importance of each in the future.

  • Robert B.

    Not for nothing, but the ordinary Catholic believers are also trained in a hierarchical culture that values obedience and authority. Also it’s very immersive – people grow up in Catholic families, and then go to Catholic schools, and then attend Catholic colleges, and then work at Catholic institutions…

    I have Catholic coworkers/friends, and I’d bet that leaving Catholicism has just never crossed their minds. It’s not that they think the crimes don’t justify it, it’s that leaving Catholicism just isn’t a thing you do. They don’t stay in the church because they want to, they stay in the church because they’re Catholics. And even if the idea did occur to them in the first place, it would cause a break with their families, their friends, their communities, and sometimes their jobs.

  • http://dubignal.wordpress.com Philip

    I suspect that the reason some Catholics are still Catholic is simply inertia. Tradition seems to have a strong hold on some people.

    Of course, some of this depends on the person’s age. For instance, my grandparents are in the 80s. At that age, I don’t expect people to change very easily, if at all.

  • sailor1031

    Well I certainly can’t explain why anyone (including my siblings, although none of their children are) is still catholic – I don’t think they can explain it either. I put this very question to my cousin, who is of all things a jesuit, and he merely responded “quite”.

  • Rory

    I suspect many Catholics just don’t think about these things. For them, being Catholic means church, and Christmas, and Easter, with the occasional wedding, funeral, maybe a first communion or confirmation. The idea that the organization providing all that is also at a systemic level covering up the abuse of children is too much dissonance. It either has to be explained away (such as with the excuses you’ve highlighted) or ignored completely.

  • baal

    A nice, kind, smart and generally ethical guy at my work place doesn’t go to Church or give the Catholics $$ anymore. He also doesn’t go to other religious organizations. I mentioned I’m an atheist and he snapped back at me that just because he can’t in good conscience give the church any kind of support due to it’s immoral behaviour; he still believes in faith as a way of knowing and wouldn’t join another church as they are not Catholic. i.e. his identity as a Catholic is entirely engrained and he’s not willing to part with it (like ever).

  • Paul W. (OM)

    I think a lot of Catholics consider themselves to be sort of in schism with the Catholic Church, from the inside—or rather, loyal to the church but in schism with the current regime.

    They don’t buy the Catholic hierarchy’s line on birth control, and most don’t buy it on abortion either.

    They don’t believe the Pope is infallible, even when he says he’s speaking infallibly.

    Many don’t think there’s anything wrong with being queer and having queer sex.

    Many don’t believe in Hell, even as “separation from God” in the afterlife.

    Some don’t believe in that afterlife shit at all.

    In general, they don’t think that you have to buy the whole package to be a real/loyal/good Catholic, no matter how much the hierarchy says that you do.

    That’s not (in itself) a crazy position. There’s no reason that Catholics should agree with the current regime’s identification of itself as the heart and soul of the Catholic Church. You can ignore the authoritarians’ circular argument that they get to say what being Catholic means, because being Catholic means being loyal and obedient to them and their dogma and dicta.

    You don’t have to buy the whole Republican or Democratic platform, or vote party line, to be a Republican or Democrat. Why should you have to buy the whole Official Catholic Dogma package to “be” a Catholic?

    Cafeteria Catholics don’t let the hierarchy define the religion through its official pronouncements—nor should they, all other things being equal.

    There’s a big difference between thinking an organization is flawed (and maybe even temporarily profoundly fucked up), and thinking that it’s completely broken and permanently worse than useless.

    Look at the Republican Party. Libertarian-leaning fiscal conservatives are slow to abandon it in the face of Tea Party social conservative kookery, because they hope that the less crazy and evil people will regain control. That’s not just because we have a two-party system, and it’s hard to find or create a viable third party. It’s also because it’s hard to tell when to just give the fuck up on something that you’ve known for a long time is partly broken.

    The current Vatican/bishops regime is like the Tea Party to the Catholic Church overall being the Republican Party. Most people who identify with the party/church but don’t identify with the current regime will not immediately leave. Some will try to be the loyal opposition and change the organization from the inside, and others will just hope for the best and wait and see if the organization gets more or less “back on track.”

    I think they’re wrong to do so in both cases, but it’s not quite as crazy as it can seem from the outside.

    In both cases, many people think that the current regime’s nastier traits—e.g., homophobia—will pass. The Republican party or the Catholic church may slow progress toward LGBTQ equality, but they can’t stop it. For many Republicans or Catholics, that’s very unfortunate but tolerable, because they think the current regime is fairly impotent on those issues, and they think that the organization is important in the longer term in other ways in which it will be beneficial and not impotent.

    Socially liberal Republicans may be happy that the tide is turning against the homophobes, and think that the party will eventually have to abandon homophobia and focus on fiscal conservatism. Likewise, socially liberal Catholics may be happy that the tide is turning against their hierarchy’s crazier shit, and think that the Church will have to tone that shit down and focus more on do-gooding in the next few decades.

    In both cases, the current regime keeps taking a hard line, gradually alienating more and more of its supporters, who have a range of tipping points at which they become alienated enough to leave outright, or just stop identifying and participating so much.

    This analogy between one denomination among many and one of two parties in a two-party system isn’t as bad as it may seem at first glance. Sure, there are lots of Christian denominations, but there’s only one Roman Catholic Church.

    I think a lot of US Catholics would do well to leave and become, say, Episcopalians—who already are in principle Catholics in schism with the current Roman Catholic regime.

    A lot of people don’t realize that officially, the Anglicans/Episcopalians are hoping for eventual reunification with a sufficiently reformed Roman Catholic Church. Same goes for the Lutherans, even, at least officially. Anglicanism or Lutheranism is actually a better fit, theologically, for most American Catholics, than remaining in the RCC per se, though most don’t understand that.

    Even for those who do, you can see why most don’t want to jump to such a “third party.” The Roman Catholic Church is by far the most important and influential single denomination in Christianity. It has serious clout, both in the US and worldwide, which the Episcopal church just doesn’t. Even those individual Catholics who realize that the Episcopal church would be a much better fit for them likely don’t care about that as much as they do about the Catholic Church being where the action is. They may be marginalized within their own church, but giving up and going to a marginal church seems worse, except as a “protest vote.”

    That’s basically the same reasoning as a lot of fiscally conservative Republicans who may agree more with the Libertarians, but stay in the much more important Republican party. (Or Democrats who may agree more with the Greens, but choose to stay in the Democratic party rather than marginalize themselves even further by jumping to the Greens.)

    I’m not saying this is the main explanation for people staying “Catholic.” It combines with the other issues in the OP to affect individuals’ tipping points at which they would vote with their feet. (Many more people would leave despite this factor if they were fully aware of just how corrupt the current regime is, how much harm the Church actually does, how little hope there is for true and lasting reform, etc.)

    • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

      Excellent answer, Paul.

    • MV

      I haven’t been to a Catholic church in a long time (shortly after my confirmation at age 17) but I think you assume far too much thinking is involved on the part of parishioners. At best they are loyal to their local church. I suspect many (most?) see little or no connection beyond that to the bishops or the Pope.

      Perhaps one of the great appeals of being a Catholic is that so little is required. Go to church for an hour a week, maybe put something into the collection tray, perhaps go to confession on occasion and now you’ve fulfilled the chore of church (and you are certified a “good person”). At least that’s how I felt it was for many, including my family. It certainly could not have been because it was a social event or because of the music or ….

      So, it’s not really surprising if they are Catholic in name only and ignore most of the teachings. It’s not like they really cared if you actually believed when confirmed (I didn’t, just pretended, I was tired of the CCD classes) and they certainly didn’t go into depth even in religious education classes. And it’s not in the best interests of the priests to deliberately drive away the people who support the church.

      I think this is a long way to say that most Catholics are Catholic because they haven’t really considered their religion one way or another. And that consideration (and change) takes effort.

    • Jean

      A little late to the party, but the new publicity campaign, I mean, pope has me reading about this stuff. When do you give up on an organization you’re a part of? As far as I can tell from my research, the Catholic church has been “completely broken and permanently worse than useless” since Constantine swallowed it up in his quest for absolute power over everything ever. Has the church ever managed to do one thing right outside of the efforts by dedicated humanitarian-minded individuals? Even aside from the long history of humanitarian disasters created and maintained by the church, in reading one article about the papacy, I spotted half a dozen direct contradictions to what Jesus teaches in the bible committed by the church and pope. The comments section was filled with praise for the new publicity campaign, I mean, pope.

      I’m just completely baffled.

  • –bill

    If you want to know why Catholics remain Catholics, go ask them. Ask them, and listen respectfully to the reasons they give, rather than going to a book written by someone who left Catholicism. Your research chops ought to be better than this.

    • josh

      He just asked. Up there in the title. But there’s no reason to discount the views of a former ‘insider’ now contemplating things from the outside. Do you disagree with any of the reasons Lobdell cites for the specific situation of Catholic child abuse?

      • Paul W. (OM)

        He just asked. Up there in the title.

        Yep. He even went further and made it explicit that it’s not a rhetorical question.

        And the discussion is largely about the opinions of somebody who’s presumably about as well-informed about the subject as you can reasonably expect anyone to be—a formerly Catholic religion writer who took a long time to gradually lose the faith, and apparently thought quite a lot about it, getting input from a variety of relevant people all along the w

        And in particular, this is somebody who apparently would have remained Catholic were it not for certain unusual experiences, e.g., constantly getting his nose rubbed in facts about the Catholic church, which most Catholics are more or less shielded from, as part of his job.

        I’d say that’s a really very good start.

        It’s even better for Hallq to preface such a discussion with a request for further input, which might cast a different light on the issue.

        -bill,

        Can you suggest any better source of information, such as actual scientific studies, such as surveys that ask really good questions that are likely to reveal what’s really going on in believers’ minds.

        I don’t know of any such data, but I would certainly be interested. (As a former Catholic with friends and family who are still Catholic, and whose experience and secondhand anecdata comports pretty well with what Lobdell says.)

        Do keep in mind that people are known to give rather inaccurate answers to religion questions when asked directly, especially by outsiders, so atheists asking people who are still Catholic is methodologically fraught as well. Not that it shouldn’t be done, but it’s not obviously a superior methodology to requesting anecdata from still-Catholics.

        I don’t think Hallq is intending the OP as in any way definitive.

        If you have anecdata or good survey results that cast a different light on the issues, or an argument as to why Lobdell’s hypotheses aren’t particularly credible, please do share.

        Even if you just think the discussion is wrongheaded in general, it’d be better to explain why than to just dis this discussion.

        Do you really think that current Catholics have a better handle on these things than ex-Catholics, or that they have better introspective access to what’s going on in their own heads than ex-Catholics’ recollections?

        I think that may be true, but it may well not be. Most people suck at introspection, as well as at recollection. Recollections of a very concerned, informed, and reflective person may well be more accurate, on average, than introspection by random people. (The latter often being wildly distorted by unconscious confabulation and rationalizations.)

        Naturally, people who agree with ex-Catholics are going to find ex-Catholics more credible than people who agree with still-Catholics, and conversely still-Catholics will find still-Catholics more credible.

        People on either side will naturally tend to respect the views, thought processes, and insights of people who they think ultimately come to the “right answer.”

        We should thus be careful about taking perspectives like Lobdell’s too seriously because we view him as a Catholic who eventually “got it right.”

        On the other hand, we should take his views pretty seriously relative to some of our own—e.g., mine—because his experiences are probably closer to typical Catholics’ experiences in some important ways.

        I, for one, lost faith when I was eight or nine, which makes me quite atypical. And I can tell you what would have made a huge difference to me then, and kept me in the church at least a while longer—a real solution to the Problem of Natural Evil.

        Clearly, most still-Catholics are not like me, and they seem more likely to be like Lobdell before he lost his faith. He’s therefore a thought provoking case study, for somebody like me. His experiences are more typical, up to a point, but he is able to articulate them unusually well, especially to people like me.

        Most still-Catholics I’ve talked to—and that’s a varied lot—can’t do that. They don’t seem to be very good at explaining their own beliefs and reasons.

        There’s a basic methodological problem here no matter who we talk to—we’re interested in counterfactuals, e.g., what it would take to get still-Catholics to leave, and what it would have taken to get ex-Catholics to stay.

        If there’s one thing we know from cognitive psychology, it’s that people aren’t very good at such counterfactuals—they don’t generally have good introspective access to why they actually do or don’t believe or do things, or very good memory for what actually happened. If you ask them, they’ll often give an answer they’re pretty sure is true, but it’s a lot less likely to be true than they think.

        Ideally, you get around such methodological problems with controlled experiments, but of course in the social sciences you can’t typically do that—e.g., raise people in carefully controlled ways, and expose them to carefully controlled information. (Even if you could, it wouldn’t be ethically justifiable.)

        Failing that, you look for corroborating or disconfirming evidence from “natural experiments,” e.g., situations in which some people were and others weren’t exposed to certain information in the natural course of events.

        For example, we can compare Irish Catholics and ex-Catholics to American Catholics and ex-Catholics, and see if the differences make sense in light of hypotheses we’re entertaining.

        My general impression is that they do. People like Lobdell—whose faith has been seriously shaken or lost due to the pedophilia scandals (and other abuses and coverups)—are more common in Ireland than in the US, plausibly because more Catholics in Ireland have had their noses rubbed in the details of Catholic scandals, as Lobdell has. His experience is more representative of Irish Catholics than American Catholics, in important ways.

        And that, in turn, may be a better model of what American Catholics would be like if they were exposed to that information, than what American Catholics themselves would guess without actually being exposed to that information, in response to direct questions.

        That certainly doesn’t prove his hypotheses right, but they do seem to survive some basic reality checks. It suggests that he’s right that if Catholics are exposed to the information he’s been exposed to, full-strength (as most American Catholics have not), they’re likely to have their Catholic faith seriously eroded, too.

        By and large, American Catholics do not and cannot know what it would actually take to get them to leave the Church until they actually experience it. It’s not the kind of thing people are good at guessing. Perspectives like Lobdell’s are thus a crucial part of the picture, even if they’re only part of the picture.

        So the tl;dr is that of course you’re right that we shouldn’t rely exclusively on people like Lobdell, rather than asking people who are still Catholic why they’re still Catholic, but we shouldn’t rely on the latter “rather than” the former, as you suggest.

        Many of us have listened to still-Catholics quite a lot, and more respectfully—in the sense of taking the ideas and arguments seriously, at least—than you seem to believe. (Many of us have tried to fathom still-Catholics’ beliefs and reasons much harder than most still-Catholics themselves!)

        Lobdell seems to provide an interesting case study that’s all the more interesting as a counterpoint to that.

        • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

          I think I may need to institute a version of PZ’s Molly awards just so I can give one to you.

          One thing I’d add: what’s really useful, to me, about Lobdell’s book is that as a journalist, he knows the relevant facts very well. And I think failure to grasp the relevant facts may be a big part of why more people haven’t left the Catholic Church.

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  • mnb0

    I asked one a couple of months ago – a liberal catholic from Flanders who is on the list of heretics compiled by conservatives. I got three answers:

    1) look at all the good things the Church does, like charity.
    2) the messengers doing wrong doesn’t mean that the message is wrong and the message – Jesus is the perfect incarnation of agape; God is Love – is excellent and appealing.
    3) I know so many members of the Church who are such nice, good, doing good, lovely people.

    • mnb0

      Note: this guy knows the facts. I was so friendly to present them. He didn’t appreciate it.
      When I asked him to put his convictions in practice – signing the petition for that Indian rationalist who gets harassed by his Church – he refused, maintaining that the Church was the real victim and that Indian rationalist the bully.
      He is a theologian, approves gay marriage, equal female rights and the likes.

  • Scott

    I haven’t read in detail all the posts. So sorry if someone already made this point. But what about this answer?

    Traditionalist RCers may think the RC leadership is very very corrupt. But they may deny that this implies that traditionalist RC is false.

    What the traditionalist RCer holds is that under narrow and precise conditions (e.g. during certain councils) God ensures that the RC leadership is infallible. This can be true even if the RC leadership is depraved and power hungry and even if they are unreliable in other contexts.

    I see why the traditionalist RCer should be embarrased by the leadership. But I don’t see (without further argument) how the leaderships moral failings is an argument against traditionalist RCism.

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  • howardnguyen

    An atheist full of pride, knowledge, science and wisdom will never hesitate to call catholics naive or simply dumb for following such a religion. What’s new?

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  • Mandy

    I think the main reason that most Catholics are still Catholic is because they view their faith as being more connected to their personal church than to Rome and the Pope. If these scandals did not occur in their own church or diocese and did not personally affect them, it’s not their problem. I am a former Catholic, and the rest of my family still goes to the church I grew up in because that is the community they’ve been a part of for all their lives. If they left, they wouldn’t be leaving the Pope. They would be leaving their friends, neighbors, mentors, and support system. Even if they disagree with the actions of the heads of the church, they don’t want to lose their personal support system.

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