You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Vatican Gets a Report Card on Financial Transparency–Keeps it a Secret

Never forget Hilaire Belloc’s description of the Catholic Church: “An institute run with such knavish imbecility that if it were not the work of God it would not last a fortnight.”

Retain a high view of the Holy Spirit.  Retain a high view of the mystical reality that is the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.  Do not retain a high view of her members, who are, after all, sinners in desperate need of redemption before they are saints in glory.  Jesus deliberately set things up to remind us of this.  As the Prophet Chesterton reminds us:

Mr. Shaw cannot understand that the thing which is valuable and lovable in our eyes is man—the old beer-drinking, creed-making, fighting, sensual, respectable man. And the things that have been founded on this creature immortally remain; the things that have been founded on the fancy of the Superman have died with the dying civilizations which alone have given them birth. When Christ at a symbolic moment was establishing His great society, He chose for its corner-stone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward—in a word, a man. And upon this rock He has built His Church, and the gates of Hell have not prevailed against it. All the empires and the kingdoms failed, because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they were founded by strong men and upon strong men. But this one thing, the historic Christian Church, was founded on a weak man, and for that reason it is indestructible. For no chain is stronger than its weakest link.

I *like* that the Catholic Church is so transparently inept and so plainly filled with such obviously failed and ridiculous people, not only among us laity, but throughout the ranks of its clerics as well. My abiding sense, ever since converting, has been one of relief. In sectarian Protestantism, the question is always whether you are pure enough, whether you are a “real Christian”, whether your “really meant it” when you asked Jesus into your heart, whether your latest grotesque failure means your whole life as a Christian has been one huge fraud. The great thing about the Catholic communion is that it begins every single act of worship with the Confiteor in which we all look at each other and say, “Who am I kidding? i don’t belong here any more than you do, so let’s pray for each other and ask the the Graduates in Heaven to put in a good word for us, trusting that God will cut us slack again just so long as we keep cutting each other slack.” It’s a place where there’s room for me: a screwup who can’t tell my butt from a hole in the ground who has no business darkening the door of a Church, much less brazenly walking up there and receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Almighty God, if you please. The whole project is so outrageous from beginning to end that my only excuse is that God tells all these other people they not only can but must do it, so I guess it’s okay that a dubious jerk like me does it too.

  • Religion Free Realist

    Fine, but you’ll excuse me if I and other non-Catholics will point out the immorality and hypocrisy of your hierarchy whenever they speak on politics or try to impose their own morality (which not even they follow) on us.

    “Catholic Bishop”, to me and the vast majority of non-Catholics, lands somewhere between “used car salesman” and “trial lawyer” in terms of moral authority and trustworthiness.

    • Mark Shea

      Yes. But then, you’re a bigot, aren’t you? So you have no interest in anything good done or said by any Catholic, cleric or not. Why then should I bother with your unbalanced assessment of anything? You’re simply a propagandist here to bitch, not somebody who has the slightest interest in trying to understand why, despite the obvious failings of Catholics, somebody would nonetheless make an adult choice to *be* a Catholic. You are, as are so many atheists, stunningly incurious, and boringly angry.

      • Religion Free Realist

        Many more flee the church. If ex-Catholics were a denomination, they’d be the second largest in the country.

        • Jared

          And yet, around the world, we are the fastest growing religion.

        • Ted Seeber

          Yes, so what? Those who flee the Church, do so in error, because they don’t understand the first thing about what the Church actually teaches. The strange thing is they’re *welcome back anytime they can get past their own ego and see the truth*. Can you say the same for atheists?

        • sara

          RFR… i’m so sorry you feel left out/ostracized/w/e. (i know i don’t speak for the church on this) so many of us were raised catholic and left the church.. for whatever reason. some of us came back, some didn’t, some even consider themselves catholic when they don’t follow any teachings, aside from praying and saying the rosary. (you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t believe in what you ‘learned’ and i’m pretty sure you wouldn’t post if you didn’t care) I hear your pain and i wish you nothing but happiness and peace. the church you believe in (that you feel doesn’t believe in you) is always there for you. i spent many years renouncing the catholic church because i was angry. but i still believed in the tenets of the church… i finally realized that, i’m a catholic.. i always will be.. because i believe. some of my views may differ a bit, but i have never been turned away from the church. i pray you find peace.

      • Religion Free Realist

        And accusing me of being a bigot is rich coming from a follower of a church whose primary mission these days seems to be denial of equal rights under the law, and who excludes fully one half of humanity from its hierarchy.

        • Mark Shea

          No. The primary mission is what it always was: Love God. Love neighbor as self. Redefining “marriage” to mean whatever anybody wants it to mean is not a “right”. It’s a fantasy. And it was Jesus, not Catholics, who opted to ordain only men. I’m also, by the way, ineligible for ordination. Meanwhile, your irrational rage about not being allowed to run an organization whose tenets you do not believe is, well, irrational. I feel no perturbation that Gentiles cannot become rabbis, nor does it bother me that the American Atheist Association has a strict policy of refusing Christians leadership positions, and it does not trouble me that men are excluded from running the Girl Scouts. Organizations have their own internal logic.

          Meanwhile, as I have noted before, I see no particular reason that women could not be made cardinals (electors of the Pope) and the Catholic tradition is chockablock with women in all sorts of leadership positions. It is only the priestly office to which they cannot be ordained since Jesus never authorized it. But since the function of a priest is to do things you don’t believe *anybody* can do (consecrate the Eucharist, forgive sins), why do you care?

          • Religion Free Realist

            I wouldn’t, if your church would just shut up about it in public, and not attempt to legislate their beliefs. I DO NOT CARE what your church teaches. Do. Not. Care. But if it insists on being a part of the public square by attempt to legislate its beliefs, and citing its own claims to moral superiority as the reason, I’m going to keep pointing out its own hypocrisy, immorality, misogyny, homophobia, etc.

            • Mark Shea

              I see. You’re here, filled with rage, because you Do. Not. Care.

              Mhm.

              I don’t recall anybody here citing the moral superiority of the Church. Indeed, this whole thread is in a blog post making clear that claims for the moral superiority of Catholics are ridiculous. It’s true that Catholic think we should not be compelled by the state to do things repugnant to our conscience and have this crazy idea that in a democratic republic with free speech we should be able to say as much and attempt to use the democratic process to make sure that happens. Welcome to democracy, RFR. I know it’s a hard concept for bigots such as yourself to cope with, but there it is.

              • Religion Free Realist

                I suppose southern bigots in Mississippi circa 1955 should have been able to use the democratic process to resist racial integration, right Mark?

                Minority rights should not be put up for a vote. If Muslims got a 50%+1 majority in this country, and made Catholicism illegal like it is in Saudi Arabia, would you really say “oh well, democracy! Whachagonnado?”

                • Mark Shea

                  There is no “right” to redefine marriage to mean whatever anybody wants it to mean. Your attempt to link it to racism is cheap sophistry.

                  • Religion Free Realist

                    Marriage has been redefined plenty of times. Marriage used to mean that the husband essentially owned his wife as property.

                    Not anymore.

                    In ancient times, a man could go visit prostitutes or have concubines and the wife could do nothing about it.

                    Not anymore.

                    Marriage used to mean no divorce whatsoever except under extreme circumstances, and even then you could not get remarried.

                    Not anymore.

                    I could go on. Marriage has been redefined plenty of times.

                    • ivan_the_mad

                      Uhhh … you keep using that word “redefine”. I don’t think it means what you think it means, especially since all the “examples” you give don’t redefine marriage – they’re abuses incidental to a marriage.

                    • Tim Haynes

                      In many parts of the world, marriage still means that the husband owns his wife. Except in the Christian parts.
                      Today, a man may still visit prostitutes and, in some parts of the world, have concubines, and the wife cannot legally do anything about it. Except in the Christian parts.
                      In many parts of the world, marriage still means that you cannot get a divorce (not even in extreme circumstances!), with no possibility of remarriage. Except in the Christian parts.

                      If you want to redefine marriage, then go live in one of the non-Christian parts of the world, please. You’ll be back after about a year of hell, to enjoy the benefits that the Christian part of the world bestows upon you.

                    • Rosemarie

                      +J.M.J+

                      I wonder what those non-Christian parts of the world would think of “gay marriage.”

                      Good point, Ivan. Those are abuses and even through them all there’s still that basic understanding of marriage as a social contract between a man and a woman. If a man “owns” a man, it’s slavery, not marriage. In some cultures a man can freely cheat on his wife, but not on his “husband” because he doesn’t/can’t have one. And a divorce is still a man and woman calling it quits. So redefining “marriage” to allow two members of the same sex to marry would be an even more fundamental change to this universally practiced social contract/covenant/sacrament than any of the above.

                    • Ted Seeber

                      I believe in most of the non-Christian parts of the world, gays are killed upon being identified as such.

                    • Ye Olde Statistician

                      Someone who erroneously uses the word “real” in his sobriquet states:
                      Marriage used to mean that the husband essentially owned his wife as property.

                      It would be useful to cite the jurisdiction within the West where this was ever true. It was certainly not true during the Middle Ages; and was not even true during the secularizing Victorian Age, which was the low point for women’s status in the West. Perhaps Mr. Real has a different definition of “property” — or even of “redefine” — than us rationalists.

                      Mater maternis, pater paternis, dude.

                    • Mark Shea

                      I suspect he has in view the Decalogue, which numbers wife with “neighbor’s goods”. What is typically overlooked in that rhetorical strategy is that a) the Decalogue is not “defining” anything and b) the Catholic tradition deliberately breaks coveting of one’s neighbor’s wife out from coveting one’s neighbor’s goods. I will have a book out next year discussing both the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes, so it’s been on my mind.

                    • Rosemarie

                      +J.M.J+

                      We could also point out that the Christian understanding of marriage includes a kind of mutual ownership, according to 1 Corinthians 7:4. So yeah, a husband owns his wife but she also owns him (or at least their respective bodies).

                    • MSwift

                      Marriage is not some manmade thing. You are manipulating its very name and trying to suggest it was defined by someone who had some personal idea of love. HELL NO. Marriage can be equally defined in terms of friggin science and biology. The unity and procreative power of love between one man and one woman that, by design, sustains a miraculous new life unifying them both in the flesh. This unity is anchored by the love of “now” Mother and Father, who was “then” Man and Woman. Thus, enabling the beginning of the cell unit of a “FAMILY” which in terms of civilization is the beginning of a society. This is what marriage is, has always been, and will always BE. A government that is trying to use its political power to distort this essential science and biological order of society since the beginning of humanity just goes to show how perverted politics and culture are today and how whipped you are into believing in such distortions. This is the complete distortion of what homosexuals and pedophiles want to call “marriage”.

                  • Everett

                    The Catholic Church is right in not redefining marriage; it’s right in teaching that the law of God on sex is quite clear: one man, one woman in marriage, and everything else is wrong. It’s right in not ordaining women; Scripture could easily be used to justify that practice, but I’ve never seen it used. However, the Catholic Church is not the Church of God. The Church of God is a brotherhood; the Church of Rome is a monarchy, and can’t even justify its existance from Sripture. Moreover, Christ and the apostles never tolerated sin in the Church, and never justified it by saying we’re all flawed.

              • Credo

                ‘Indeed, this whole thread is in a blog post making clear that claims for the moral superiority of Catholics are ridiculous. ‘

                Well, it was not always like that. As a child in the 40′s I repeated from my catechism that ‘None outside the Catholic Church can be saved.’

                • Mark Shea

                  And that is still true. But what does that have to do with Catholic moral superiority? For your reading pleasure: http://www.mark-shea.com/VII.html

                  • Credo

                    ”But what does that have to do with Catholic moral superiority? ”

                    Well, we were taught as children that all Protestants were going to Hell. Some of us said so to our playmates. We exhibited moral superiority. We were also taught that it was specifically the Catholic Church. As a consequence when I lapsed and became agnostic, I was for a while dismissive of the best Protestant churches; the tin shed down the road, the back storeroom emptied for the Sabbath use. Why would I entertain a table over an altar, a barn over a cathedral, a street preacher over a pontiff ? Here is a recent example: http://www.richardsipe.com/Bur…‏ After all, I had experienced the creme de la creme of extravagance in religious presentation. The most esteemed of the Protestant churches was the Anglican, but in many respects it just came across as a copy; e.g. Henry VIII left thousands of pounds (millions now) for Masses to be said for his soul.
                    It took a religious experience of Pentecostal proportions to lead me into the lower-case church of the ‘little ones’ rather than the Church of’ ‘the wise and learned’. Luke 10: 21 ‘At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ”I praise you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure’.
                    AT first I returned to the Charismatics, but later left to join a church which was led by the Holy Spirit.

                    That we no longer hear the message of damnation for non-Catholics preached is perhaps in keeping with the vow which cardinals make when they are newly installed.

            • Jmac

              Hey RFR, mind telling me what the hell you mean by morality? Is your morality objective or subjective? If the latter, why should we listen to you? If the former, where does it come from?

              *grabs popcorn*

            • http://www.sff.net/people/john-c-wright/ John C Wright

              “I DO NOT CARE what your church teaches. Do. Not. Care. But…”
              You had me going up until the “but”. Obviously you do care. Your objection is that Catholics are allowed to vote and to speak in public and petition the government for redress of grievances.

          • Religion Free Realist

            Oh yes, “love your neighbor”. Unless you’re LGBT. As far as your church is concerned, either I go back in the closet or FOAD.

            • Mark Shea

              With the exception of a few Trads, I don’t know any Catholics who give a shit if you are out of the closet. It’s a free country. You can sin as you please. The Church simply asks that you don’t try to make Catholics pretend that homosex is something other than a sin according to the teaching of the apostles and that you don’t try to force the Church to pretend that homosex is a virtue or be punished by draconian and unjust penalties for failing to acclaim homosex as a virtue. I don’t think there should be any penalties in civil law for homosex. I think you should be allowed to live where you like, have the job you like, and do as you like. Your victimhood, while quite gratifying to your rage and narcissicism, is imaginary. The world is at your feet. Cheer up! The only thing you lack–and will always lack–is approval for your sinful acts from the Church. That’s what angers you. And that’s why your “Do. Not. Care” is so transparently false. The refusal of the Church to approve of homosex is what galls homosexuals and what fills them with punishing rage.

              • Religion Free Realist

                What fills me with rage is the fact that the state I live in decided, in 2006, to put my civil rights up for a vote in an act fueled by nothing but religious bigotry and homophobia. I cannot marry who I love in my own state. Even if I marry in Massachusetts or Vermont, my own state won’t recognize it and neither will the federal government for no other reasons than 1)some people find LGBT folks icky and gross and 2) certain religious sects decided to make their medieval view of sexuality the law of the land.

                • Mark Shea

                  You can have every civil law privilege of marriage. You can even have a fake “wedding” ceremony with all the trimmings. Soon, it will be civil law all over the US. What you can never have, though, is a real marriage, because marriage is a union between man and woman. The Church will never, ever, change on that. You know that. And so you know that whatever fake “marriage” you eventually have will not be recognized by the Church. And it’s precisely that which angers you. So don’t lie to me that you do. not. care. It matters intensely to you. Best be confronting the question of “why”.

                  • Religion Free Realist

                    “You can have every civil law privilege of marriage.”

                    Not in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

                    • MSwift

                      what is the big deal of having a “legal” marriage? Why is it in a society that has treated the very ceremony of marriage as none-important all of a sudden take such an orthodox stance on it coming from a political arena? Is it grounded in the desire for everyone to see them as a true marriage? because it is not. Is it grounded in the desire for the government tax benefits of two married people? because any fake marriage ought not have that. That isn’t fair. The whole reason for tax breaks for marriage people is because of their children, because they are living a life together and precisely because marriage’s purpose is the procreation of children. But wait a minute, is it for the purpose to “adopt” children to have the legal papers that recognize a marriage? ….because THAT right there is the cancer.A homosexual couple is NOT a mother and father, it is basically the foundation for NOT having children because that is not how a child is to be situated in a family. A child deserves a mother and a father as his/her biological nature was meant to be. If a homosexual couple want to raid the legal system to try and have all the “recognition” of what true marriage recognizes by its scientific and biological design, then that is messed up and NO……homosexual couples ought not get that. That is not a civil right, rather you are trampling the civil rights of basic people wanting to live in accordance with their biological nature, and you are trampling on the very rights of children who deserve a mother and a father. AND….you are consistently trampling on religious freedom on this land by trying to legalize everyone who is on the side of biology and science to conform to some perverted idea of marriage and family. That is the messed up distortion going on here.

                  • ds

                    Nobody is trying to make catholics believe it is “real” marriage. But catholics and others are trying to force their religious definition of “real” marriage on those with different beliefs. Yet if you are required to provide (not use) insurance coverage against your “conscience”you must demand FREEDOM!!! I think it’s hypocritical.

                    Jesus did not explicitly forbid the ordination for women, just as he did not explicitly forbid the ordination of gentiles by appointed a dozen jews.

                    • Mark Shea

                      Gentiles were ordained. Women were not.

                    • Jared

                      ds, you’re Catholic, right? I seem to recall you saying so in a thread the other day.
                      Anyways, if you are, then think of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. She is God’s greatest creation…the only human creature who never sinned. She is far more qualified to be a leader than any of the Apostles…than any Bishop we’ve ever had. And yet, she was not. The simplest reason why she was not chosen to be a Bishop is that she could not be one.

                    • ds

                      Gentiles were ordained by Jesus?

                    • Mark Shea

                      Gentiles were ordained by the apostles, thereby establishing that Gentile males were matter for the sacrament of ordination.

                    • Rosemarie

                      +J.M.J+

                      The Gospel of St. John states that Jesus did many things that were not recorded. So it’s possible that He did forbid the ordination of women, which the Apostles would have known. There is an early tradition that Christ only invited men to the Last Supper because He was going to institute the Priesthood that night, which He only intended to give to men.

                      As the Church has stated many times, she is not authorized to ordain women. Jesus only ordained men and that is what the Church does. That’s why there can’t be women priests. Not because women are inferior or Catholic clergy are scared of women (yeah, I’ve heard that claim before), but because the Church is not authorized to ordain women. And you can’t compare this to ordaining Gentiles because physical sex is more basic than ethnicity. At the beginning of the human race, long before there were various nationalities and ethnic groups, there were males and females.

                    • ds

                      If Jesus did things that weren’t recorded, he equally could have done stuff that rejects your argument, right?

                    • Mark Shea

                      Huh?

                    • ds

                      And what about all the responses to my first paragraph?

                      /crickets

                    • Rosemarie

                      +J.M.J+

                      Even if it were not recorded in Scripture, it would still have been part of Sacred Tradition. It is not. The early Christian writers do not state that Jesus of the Apostles ordained women or that the Church was authorized to do so. In fact, they state the opposite.

                    • ivan_the_mad

                      “But catholics and others are trying to force their religious definition of “real” marriage on those with different beliefs.” As opposed to what, a secular definition of “fake” marriage? As for imposing beliefs, a) welcome to democracy and b) what exactly is it that proponents of SSM are trying to with the machineries of state?

                    • Rosemarie

                      +J.M.J+

                      As for your first paragraph, it’s not just our definition of marriage, it’s how marriage has been understood throughout the ages the world over. What right does our upstart culture have to redefine it? And we’re hardly the only ones defending that understanding.

                    • ds

                      As RFR noted, marriage has been redefined a lot, from women as property, fidelity not required of men, women owning no property, etc, that in many ways it would appear marriage has been redefined to be more just over time. Continue that with gay marriage.

                      And it aint like gay marriage proponents want to change your marriage. Just don’t get gay married.

                    • Mark Shea

                      So “marriage” is a word meaning whatever you want it to mean. Which is another way of saying “marriage” is a word that means nothing.

                      Why is marriage so important again if the word mean nothing? Ah! Because marriage is a) a way of pretending that a homosexual relationship is a virtue and that that homosex is not unnatural and sinful and b) a legal means of punishing people who deny a.

                    • Rosemarie

                      +J.M.J+

                      And as we answered RFR, those are not true redefinitions of marriage, just abuses of marriage which Christianity rejects anyway. Meanwhile, the basic understanding of marriage as a social contract between a man and woman remained intact even in the midst of all those abuses. In some traditional cultures, a man can own a man as a slave but not as a spouse, etc. No redefinition there.

                    • Ye Olde Statistician

                      But catholics and others are trying to force their religious definition of “real” marriage on those with different beliefs.

                      cf. the Code of Khamurapi.
                      cf. Plato, “The Laws”

                      I hardly think that either Khamurapi of Babylon or Plato of Athens were Catholics. Or the pagan Roman or anyone else for that matter. Dude, it’s not the Catholic definition, but simply the universal nature of the institution. The particular laws regulating it have changed from this culture to that. (The pagan Germans accepted rape as a cause of marriage — “the act makes the marriage” — but the Church made them stop — “the consent makes the marriage.”) But the nature of that which was regulated long predates the Christian religion, let alone the institutional Catholic Church.

                    • Steve

                      Catholics and others are trying to uphold the legitimate definition of marriage from an onslaught by a tiny, but well-financed group that wants to change it to suit their personal and selfish whims.

                • Michelle

                  For someone who Doesn’t Care, you seem to Care a whole heck of a lot. Why be here, reading and commenting on an individual Catholic’s blog, when you could be on the blogs of Brights, basking in their Brilliance and sharing insights on how wonderful it is to be Religion Free? Is there some reason you enjoy banging your head against brick walls?

                  • ds

                    Just because you like to be surrounded by a mutual admiration society doesn’t mean others might enjoy something more challenging.

                    • ivan_the_mad

                      Oh, I think the point is less “let’s all comfort our own prejudices” than “if you are going to engage with people of differing views, make it rather more constructive than bigoted anti-Catholic blather”, which is what Reason … excuse me, Religion … Free Realist did.

                    • Ted Seeber

                      I don’t see that person as being here to be challenged or even consider other worldviews.

                • Ted Seeber

                  That they put up marriage for a vote shows that they gave you a chance to redefine marriage. That you’re complaining about losing that vote is just sour grapes victimhood about an imaginary concept.

                • http://www.chesterton.org Sean P. Dailey

                  “certain religious sects decided to make their medieval view of sexuality the law of the land.”

                  That marriage cannot exist between two people of the same sex is a lot older than the Middle Ages. Indeed, as the saying goes, same-sex “marriage” is an idea so stupid, it could only have been taken seriously in the early 21st century.

            • Ted Seeber

              Have you ever bothered to read the Catechism? Same Sex Attracted People are no more sinful than a heterosexual engaging in extra marital activity. Perhaps less- sin under compulsion is still sin, but the guilt is a lot less for it than when it is a free choice.

              I can’t say “all good people go to heaven” like a certain liberal at church yelled at me the other day because I don’t know any good people. Despite what the fundamentalists claim, I don’t believe in salvation by works, but rather, salvation by humility and learning to accept forgiveness. The works come as a matter of course.

              But I can’t say that lust is any worse than gluttony, and this spring I came to the realization that my gluttony is a form of suicide. Which is why my lunch has been salads every day for the past three months.

              • Rosemarie

                +J.M.J+

                I do hope that more Christians take this to heart from now on. I think there is a tendency to allow ones disgust for certain šêxùal practices associated with homošêxùality to color ones attitude toward people with SSA. We assume they engage in these practices and so end up being disgusted by the people when we should be loving them as Christ loves them. I hope we can let go of that and see even homošêxùal acts as not the very worst sins of all, since they are not.

                • Sal

                  This.
                  Will confess that this is a struggle that requires the mental reminder that benevolence demands we not assume anything about anyone’s undisclosed activities.

            • Ye Olde Statistician

              Oh yes, “love your neighbor”. Unless you’re LGBT.

              No, we are called upon to love all our neighbors, even our enemies. You seem to have fallen into the post-Nietzschean trap of confusing love with sexual gratification. The latter is the indulgence of the animal appetites; the former is the heartfelt wishing of good for the Other. It is quite possible to (for example) love children without acting out sexually with them. It is quite possible to love women without sexing with your neighbor’s wife.

              Modern neuroscience tells us that too much indulgence of the appetites will “vulcanize the neural pathways” for the primitive parts of the brain at the expense of neural pathways originating in the neocortex. This is the triumph of the will over the intellect, which the Late Modern cherishes above all else. But it impairs our rational powers.

        • Ted Seeber

          Equal rights under the law? Atheists are not for that. They’re for the automatic violent suppression of anything they see fit to define as religious.

        • Bill Guentner

          Where do you get this unsubstantiated drivel?

    • Chris M

      the vast majority of non-Catholics I know would derisively laugh away your attempt to represent their thoughts on anything, much less something as complex and nuanced as religion.

      Since I’m Catholic, I’ll just shut up and pray for you, though.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      For example, when the bishop of New Orleans unilaterally desegregated the diocesan schools there and excommunicated Catholic politicians who spoke out against it. He even kept the school open when parents kept their kids out of the school. At least until it was firebombed.

  • vickie

    Hello Realist:
    Substitute moral authority for scientific authority for a moment. I have read that large numbers of papers in Scientific journals are poorly done, or even fabricated. If my tenured professor has work retracted for being fraudulent, that does not mean that what he taught from established text books or review papers is incorrect. He teaches not on his own authority but on the authority of accumulated scientific knowledge.

    Now what morality are out resident hypocrites trying to impose on you?

    • Religion Free Realist

      No scientist or scientific institution claims infallibility on moral matters.

      • Ted Seeber

        Just infallibly on scientific matters- just look at the doctrine of the Sub-Etha, or the Doctrine of the Steady State Earth for two scientific dogmas that were utterly wrong.

  • http://www.choratech.com Phil in Canada

    Referencing the original post, not the ensuing combox discussion: I just wanted to say to Mark, thanks, I needed that.

    • yan

      ditto from me in regard to what Phil wrote.
      as for ‘the love that just won’t shut up’, i just want to say, i have experienced over and over again in these discussions great palpable anger and hatred from those that claim to identify with that orientation. If these people ever take over, I believe there is going to be some serious persecution of those that disagree with them. They are a real danger to freedom of discourse and freedom of opinion in general, and a danger to the expression of the natural law view of the truth in particular. The danger to the latter is of course a very real danger to the proclamation of catholic natural law thinking and thus to catholic teaching on morality; in that respect it is a direct attack on the gospel of Jesus Christ Himself, Who came to convict the world of sin. I think we ought to take them very seriously and oppose them at every juncture wherein they raise their hideous and perverted opinions.

  • Mary

    @Religion Free Realist – If the Catholic Church was established by Christ which Catholics do believe it was, why should we not believe the church is infallible on faith and morals? Faith and morals do not change (thank God!). The Catholic Church is in charge of preserving and protecting the truth. We do not demand that anyone believe what we believe but we cannot sit idly by why we are being attacked. It’s interesting that you draw a conclusion the church is homophobic and misogynist. Just where would that be? You have your facts twisted and in fact you disagree with what God has to say on this. No Church is perfect and we are a church of saints and sinners. The Church belongs to Christ and only He is perfect.

    • Religion Free Realist

      That’s fine. You can believe it. What you can’t do is demand I and the rest of the country believe it, too, by ramming legislation down our throats because of your private religious opinions. And to those of us outside your church, any claims of your Bishops to moral authority sounds absolutely ridiculous, as ridiculous as Scientology or Mormonism.

      • Mark Shea

        I remember when this blog entry was about the obvious screwiness of Catholics and our obvious moral failings. Yet somehow it became, for RFR, a triumphant claim of Catholic moral superiority that he needed to bravely explode by pointing out that Catholics have obvious moral failings.

        This is what happens when you are an ideological johnny one note who only has one way in which he can speak and no ability to cope with ideas outside his obsessive ideological rut. RFR is the sort of person who, when you say, “It’s a beautiful day today” replies “Maybe for morally superior Catholics who want to deny freedom to people like LBGT Americans!!!!” Not a lot of fun at a party, I’d bet.

        • Jmac

          Well, you have to consider that your post wasn’t actually about what you thought it was, since you own biases obviously compelled you to say the opposite of what you actually said. There, wasn’t that simple?

          • Jeanette Leighton

            I am enjoying the logical, rational, and witty responses from all the “hypocritical,” “religious bigots” here. Still laughing at Ivan’s Princess Bride quote worked in there. Jmac = hilarious.
            When the name-calling rolls out, as it quickly does and did (seriously, you want to win this argument by calling people who disagree with you “homophobic”?) you know that rationality has left the building. Don’t think RFR even read the original post.

        • Religion Free Realist

          No, I’m pointing out that, since the Catholic hierarchy ARE immoral and corrupt, as you admit, that therefore they have ZERO moral standing with non-Catholics, and thus no right to push their beliefs on us through law.

          • Mark Shea

            The teachings of the Church are not the personal property of the bishops. They no more depend on the “moral authority” of bishops than the multiplication table depends on the “moral authority” of a math teacher. Until you grasp that, you can’t hope to understand why your arguments make so little impact on any educated Catholic. The Church’s teaching on marriage does not come from the Pope or the bishops. It comes from Jesus and the apostles. The bishops are the often reluctant and frequently inept transmitters of that tradition, not the originators.

            • ds

              Jesus and the apostles are not currently available for comment to tell us where the bishops are fucking up. And the holy spirit only cares to intercede with certainty on matters of great importance like Marian dogma, not whether you might be making a mistake by protecting so many serial abusers.

              It is precisely the fact that the members of the church hierarchy are so frequently as effective as the three stooges that MAKES us doubt their teaching on a great many things.

              I know you don’t agree, Mark, but is this viewpoint so damn hard to understand?

              If the bishops are “often reluctant and inept transmitters of tradition,” is it not completely reasonable to suppose they might have messed up the transmission of the “originators”?! Especially when they are wrong on so many important things?

              • Rosemarie

                +J.M.J+

                Jesus promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church, and that the Holy Spirit would abide with her forever, guiding us into all truth. If we believe these things, then we can’t believe that the bishops have “messed up the transmission.” That would mean that Christ was wrong and ineffective, that the gates of hell have prevailed, that the Holy Spirit failed to guide the Church into all truth. That’s why we don’t accept that viewpoint, because we believe that Jesus is trustworthy even if His followers are not.

              • Jared

                There’s only two words to describe the fact that an organization has survived this long, despite persecution, despite mistakes and incompetent leadership, without going back on unpopular teachings: “impossible” or “miraculous”.

                I think that’s what Mark was getting at.
                As for the Bishops messing up the transmission, as you said, the Holy Spirit is guiding them when it comes to important areas, like Doctrine.

              • Mark Shea

                ds:

                It is precisely because any sentient being would instantly want to know the answer to that question that Jesus answered it 2000 years ago by promising that he would be with the Church to the end of time and that the Holy Spirit would guide the Church into all all truth. The charism of infallibility and indefectibility is given to the Church *because* the Church is made of such dubious stuff as fallen humans. Infallibility is a confession of weakness: http://www.mark-shea.com/infallibility.html

                • ds

                  Or maybe Jesus wasn’t talking about you guys, or He was misunderstood.

                  • Rosemarie

                    +J.M.J+

                    He was talking about His Church, and the Catholic Church is the Church He founded on St. Peter, which goes back to the beginning. He also sent His Spirit to specifically make sure that His teachings were not misunderstood.

                    • ds

                      yeah, and that catholic church has got some of the actions so wrong I am thinking that they might have got the teaching wrong too. And assuming the words of christ are true, he maybe meant something other than what the bumbling church hierarchy thinks he meant.

                    • Rosemarie

                      +J.M.J+

                      If you don’t know whether the Church’s moral teachings are right then how can you know that the bishop’s actions are wrong? You start by judging the bishop’s actions against the Church’s moral teachings and declaring the former wanted. Then you turn around and say that the same standards you’ve just used to make that judgment may be wrong. Don’t you see how you are sawing off the limb you’re sitting on?

                    • ds

                      I’ll saw off the branch, I don’t give a fuck. I’m just sick of the smug we know everything superiority. I’ll burn the damn tree to the ground.

                    • Rosemarie

                      +J.M.J+

                      We don’t know everything, just some things. You, however, claim to know better than the Church of Christ, so aren’t you then claiming a certain superiority? It’s sad to hear that you would gladly burn Christianity to the ground in order to justify gay marriage. If you should ever succeed in razing Christian morality, just watch out for the flood of evil that would unleash.

                  • Mark Shea

                    If you want to play postmodern Protestant games, you can. But it’s kind of silly unless you want to abandon the whole Christian tradition forthwith and declare that it’s impossible to know anything. Good luck with that. Seems like a dumb way of saving gay “marriage”.

                    • ds

                      Yes, because I absolutely said we should abandon all of Christian tradition. Or wait, I didn’t…anywhere? And gee, I didn’t say it’s impossible to know anything either. You sure are a good strawmanner when challenged, Mark.

                      Maybe my catholic faith, as weak as it is, is informed more by some weird blind faith I have. You sometimes seem like you are catholic because you find it the MOST logically defensible position. A great peak from which you can point out the holes in all arguments, your holy mission sanctified by saint chesterton.

                      I think patheos should have a blog by a confused and doubtful catholic. It’d be a better representation of the faithful to have somebody not on board with every single word like you and the anchoress and everybody else here. In a winking nod to Frank Weathers we’d call it “Why Am I Catholic?”

                      And BTW enough whining about the blog going of topic. You make a post saying LOL the church sure does screw up a lot and people come in and say THAT’S WHAT WEVE BEEN SAYING and you get all butthurt, please. Plus 102 comments! You love the pageclicks and you know it.

                    • Mark Shea

                      ds:

                      If you declare that the sins of its members mean that the Church loses the charism of infallibility (which is an extremely minimal protection from the Holy Spirit guaranteeing only that the Church will never define as apostolic teaching something that is contrary to apostolic teaching–that’s it, that’s all), then you effectively declare that there is no way to know if anything like the teaching of Christ is knowable to us. By this calculus, you effectively say that it is quite possible the Church completely perverted the teaching of Christ five minutes after Pentecost. So yes, denying the charism of infallibility is a declaration the all of Christian tradition (including Scripture) may well be totally worthless. It is not by any means a new proposition, but it is ultimately what we sign on for if we reject the ancient faith of the Church that the Holy Spirit gives the Church the gift of infallibility.

                      The problem with your argument is not that it faults the bishops for failing badly in their duty to live their own teaching. Paul did the same (Galatians 2). It’s that you leap from infallibility (the claim that the Holy Spirit keeps sinful and stupid bishops from wrong defining the Tradition) to impeccability (the claim that the Holy Spirit keeps–or should keep–bishops from sinning gravely. Infallibility has never carried with it a claim of impeccability. So it doesn’t really refute the doctrine of infallibility to complain that the charism does not do what the Church never claimed it did in the first place. You may feel some intuitive fear that nonetheless the sinfulness of bishops *does* refute the claim of infallibility, but of course, the point of the doctrine of infallibility is that the sinfulness of bishops is not a news flash and that it is precisely *because* Catholics–including bishops–are sinful moronic dunderheads that the protection of the Holy Spirit is necessary. Otherwise, we can’t know whether the Church has *ever* taught the gospel. You can go there, but then you are stuck with the problem of trying to come up with some alternative to the Christian explanation for Jesus that is not even harder than the Catholic one and that is an impossible task. So the smartest move, in my view, is to calm down and really listen to that whole infallible/impeccable distinction. Leaves you free to rail all you like at the sins of Catholics, including bishops, while still leaving you with a firm grip on the same old teaching about Jesus that has made sense for 2000 years.

                    • Rosemarie

                      +J.M.J+

                      When you say:

                      >>>and that catholic church has got some of the actions so wrong I am thinking that they might have got the teaching wrong too. And assuming the words of christ are true, he maybe meant something other than what the bumbling church hierarchy thinks he meant.

                      …you are questioning the very core and essence of the Christian tradition – the words of Christ and the Church’s understanding of them throughout the ages. If that is incorrect, then the Christian tradition is rooted in forged quotes and misunderstandings thereof. A call to abandon such an erroneous fabrication would not be far removed from that.

                    • ds

                      Maybe the holy spirit protects the church and sustains it despite the dunderheads, and doesnt step in just to make sure the dunderheads get it right. How do I know? I just see all the tremendous f-ups and I think maybe they are wrong on gay marriage, on the HHS mandate, and some other stuff.

                      I understand the difference btween infallibility and impeccability. I know only a couple new i know you havent asked me to do that specifically mark, but it feels like that from the church in general at times.things have been taught ex cathedra since infallibility was declared. I dont expect a human institution to be impeccable. But I wont cling to the hierarchy’s every word, and i hate this idea that if you dont swallow the whole thing you arent really catholic. I dont have explanations for everything, but dont tell me im smelling roses when it smells like shit. Gods foolishness is wiser than the wisdom of men and all. I dont think nothing is knowable, but when somebody screws up so bad, you gotta wonder how much are they gettin right. And i dont see whats wrong with qeustioning interpretations of scripture either.

                    • Mark Shea

                      The thing is, you *don’t* think “maybe” they are wrong about gay marriage. You are absolutely certain they are wrong. I don’t recall saying, “if you dont swallow the whole thing you arent really catholic”. My argument was confined to a very small point. I thought I was pretty clear with the blog entry that one does not have to believe and profess everything a bishop does is perfect.

              • Mark Shea

                Jesus and the apostles are not currently available for comment to tell us where the bishops are fucking up. And the holy spirit only cares to intercede with certainty on matters of great importance like Marian dogma, not whether you might be making a mistake by protecting so many serial abusers.

                And yet, somehow, miraculously, we know the answer to that question anyway. Why, it’s almost as though we have a moral sense and the Tradition of the Church maintains some sort of coherence even when the bishops screw up.

                • ds

                  They have a moral sense, they don’t follow it leading to horrible ends, but they still have “The charism of infallibility and indefectibility.” I don’t get it man. They can mess up so badly that it causes un-measurable pain and suffering, but the Holy Spirit is always there with em to help em get it right? How is this rational? And if it is, how is it meaningful in any way? And don’t you see how anyone could easily doubt this?

                  • Rosemarie

                    +J.M.J+

                    The charism of infallibility and indefectability relates to their teachings, not their personal conduct. It means they can’t teach error, not that they can’t sin. They can mess up personally because they are weak human beings like the rest of us but the Holy Spirit will still keep their doctrine straight. That is not irrational; we’re talking about two different things. People could easily doubt anything, that doesn’t make it false.

                    • ds

                      Given the practice, I am thinking they are so weak they might have screwed up some of the theory, too.

                    • Rosemarie

                      +J.M.J+

                      Our Lord would not allow that to happen. He has promised to preserve His Church from doctrinal or moral error, and can do so even though He must work through weak earthen vessels. It is said that God draws straight with crooked lines, and we humans can be crooked indeed!

                    • Ye Olde Statistician

                      ds is confusing the failures of a small percentage with the institution as a whole. Given that such cases are ten times more prevalent among public school teachers, he must obviously also believe that public schools are a morally bankrupt institution. The other two possibilities are b) he cannot do statistics properly or c) he is irrational.

                    • ds

                      Ye Old, I love your books but you can be a real condescending jerk with your comments. I don’t know any schools claiming infallible teaching authority. And I don’t believe I said the church is morally bankrupt, just that they can’t be taken seriously infallible in a meaningful way given all their grave screwups.

                    • Mark Shea

                      Why?

                    • ds

                      Why!? Because they’re great books, man. Did you read Eifelheim? Shit was brilliant.

                  • Jared

                    Because infallibility doesn’t mean what you think it means. If they were fine, upstanding men who never took a misstep, why would infallibility be needed at all?

                    • Jared

                      yeah, and that catholic church has got some of the actions so wrong I am thinking that they might have got the teaching wrong too.

                      This would make a lot more sense if the Church didn’t agree with the the hierarchy committing some truly awful sins.

                  • yan

                    ‘a confused and doubtful catholic=a better representation of the faithful’

                    MAKES SENSE

                    • ds

                      Confused and doubtful mixed among all the other patheos catholics that believe everything. Considering there’s probably as many if not more of us than you, then yeah it MAKES SENSE to include some dissenting voices.

                    • Rosemarie

                      +J.M.J+

                      Many of us were once confused and doubtful, too. Even after coming to accept that the Church is right, it still may be a struggle to live up to those teachings. We’re still flesh and blood. As I’ve said before, for a long time I couldn’t accept some of the Church’s teachings. It was only by study, prayer and by the grace of God that I was able to see the truth of those teachings.

                      I know these discussions can get heated but please don’t imagine that we’re all sitting up in our high ivory towers, free of all doubt, removed from any conflict and looking down haughtily on the unwashed rabble like yourself. It’s not that at all. We just want to give a reason for the hope that is in us. The whole point of Marks initial post was that we Catholics are not “superior” just because we have all our doctrinal and moral ducks in a row. We still screw up big time through human weakness. I for one don’t think I’m better than you. I just want God to show mercy to you, as I hope He does to me as well.

                    • ds

                      Thank you Rosemarie for your understanding. I know serious catholics don’t believe themselves as having less sin and being any better than the rest of us.

                      But I don’t see why it’s unreasonable to think that maybe the doctrinal ducks are not in the right order when you see how inept the duck organizers are.

                      I know Jesus founded the church and that He said the gates of hell will not close upon his church. But that leaves a lot of gray area between “the Devil wins” and “we are right about all doctrine.” I think it’s possible that some doctrine could be wrong but the devil will still lose. Especially when some doctrine and practice seems so obviously wrong to me.

                      You say I’m sawing off the branch I am standing on, that how can I say there is no moral authority while I then don’t have any authority to say so. But I feel like we ALL have to struggle along as best we can, and realize that we can all be wrong and have to change course.

                      And the branch I would saw and the tree I’d fucking burn up I mean to be more my own reason and authority rather than the whole of christian morality and tradition. I have got anywhere at all in my faith by pretty much denying my own reason and just leaping, being compelled to leap, hoping I’ll get caught. Yet still as a rational being, I have to try to figure shit out. It’s an obvious contradiction, relying on reason while knowing my reason can be useless and full of shit, but I don’t know what else to do, and so much of mystery of the cross is apparent contradiction. We must give it away to get it, we must die to have eternal life etc.

                      Thanks again for your love and compassion, I can feel it coming through your words.

                    • ds

                      I’m a kind of catholic Bokononist, if you’ve ever read Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle:

                      Tiger got to hunt
                      Bird got to fly
                      Man got to sit and wonder why why why
                      Tiger got to rest
                      Bird got to land
                      Man got to tell himself he understand

                • ds

                  And Mark, where’s that darn miracle?! Is it miraculous that you might stop and think, “gee maybe we shouldn’t protect all these guys, as they seem to keep doing it and now we’ve got a whole generation of abused people coming to light”?

                  It’s ACTUALLY more like somehow any human being with half a brain, let alone the holy spirit, has a moral sense that what the church was doing for years and years was wrong. And as for the coherence of the church, a lot of what the church did was circle the wagons and cohere to itself when they should have been exposing the horrible mistakes they made.

                  • Mark Shea

                    It’s ACTUALLY more like somehow any human being with half a brain, let alone the holy spirit, has a moral sense that what the church was doing for years and years was wrong.

                    Um. That was my point.

                    • ds

                      So then you agree with my point that the church hierarchy is superfluous as some protector of truth guided by the holy spirit?

                    • Mark Shea

                      No. The apostolic and episcopal office was created by Christ. He wasn’t being superfluous.

                  • Rosemarie

                    +J.M.J+

                    There are some human beings who might not have that moral sense. There are some people out there who are trying to get “intergenerational šêx” (aka pêdophila) normalized and accepted. The Church’s teaching says that this is wrong, even as it says that homošêxual acts are wrong. Yet the same exact arguments used to legitimate the latter are currently being used by proponents of pêdophila. They’re perfectly happy to play the same game of saying the Church has no right to force its morals on others. A lot of evil could be justified that way, and will be in the future.

                    As we saw in the Penn State debacle, cover-ups and such are sadly an all-too-human trait found outside the Church as well. It’s been happening for years in public schools as well; try Googling the phrase “passing the garbage” and the word “schools” together to see what I mean. Do these educators have the moral sense to see that what they’ve been doing for years and years is wrong?

                    • ds

                      So the holy spirit guiding the church doesn’t protect it from screwing up as bad as the rest of the world. Are you sure you’re not arguing my point?

                    • Mark Shea

                      Right. All infallibility offers is a single negative protection: that the faith will be prevented from being lost. It’s an extremely minimal promise. There is no guarantee at all that Catholics will not sin and sin gravely.

                    • Ye Olde Statistician

                      It’s worth noting that a) at least 10% of the accusations have been unfounded; b) a substantial number have been brought against deceased or senile priests who cannot rebut the charges; c) that instances of cover-ups were actually few; d) that the vast majority of the incidents took place in the 70s and 80s during the sexual revolution and homosexual priests were no more immune to the siren call of “if it feels good, do it” than was anyone else; e) that what we now call “cover up” was considered by psychologists in the 70s and 80s as the best way to handle such things; f) that the rate of chicken-hawking by homosexual priests was no greater than that among homosexual men in general.

                    • ds

                      That’s a hearty endorsement, Ye Old. Only 9/10 molestations actually occured (um, this is bad are you sure you’re not ignorant of statistics?), a lot of the priests were shuffled around so long the church succeeded in protecting them til the died, we only covered up some of it (like Cardinal Law), it was the sexual revolution that made our priests abuse minors!, and pedophile defending psychologists said it was ok to cover them up, so how could we do otherwise? I’d love to have you for my defense attorney. And you called ME irrational.

              • Stephanie

                And we are saying it is not their teaching. It is Christ’s teachings revealed to his apostles-sinful men. It is handed down to sinful men. When the bishops teach in union with the pope they are infallible. Any other time, they are sinful men. Funny thing is, any time I have questioned a teaching and done some studying, I found that those sinful men were right. Just like when I teach my children, there are many things I teach them about right and wrong. I do this knowing that I have committed many of the acts that I teach my children are wrong. The fact that I am a sinful woman does not remove my responsibility to teach my children that those acts are wrong. In a way, it makes me uniquely qualified to do so since I fully understand the consequences

          • Dick Landkamer

            “Since the Catholic hierarchy ARE immoral and corrupt, as you admit, that therefore they have . . . no right to push their beliefs on us through law”

            RFR, you are implying that those who do have a right to “push their beliefs on us through law” are people who are moral and are not corrupt. That would be ideal, but it would also leave us with very few, if any, legislators!

        • Religion Free Realist

          And nice example of your hetero privilege there. I have to talk about this because, unlike you, I don’t have heterosexual privilege. I have to live with scorn and discrimination every day of my life, largely fueled by institutions like the Catholic Church.

          • Jared

            The privilege of writing a blog? The privilege of commenting in a calm, logical manner? I’m missing what exactly Mark demonstrated in that post.

          • Mark Shea

            I’m sorry you live with scorn. You may not be aware of it, but scorn also lives in you. However, this entry was not about scorning you. You made it about that yourself by wrenching it 180 degrees in the opposite direction from the point I was making. I suspect a lot of the suffering you endure is likewise self-inflicted.

          • yan

            You are a very sick individual, full of hatred and bitterness, and a deviant. Keep it up and you will go to hell.
            I believe Mark’s suspicion about your suffering being self-inflicted is right. The reason you are so angry is that you can’t come to grips with what you feel and know deep down in your soul: namely, that you are wrong about the goodness of your sick and perverted acts, but you are addicted to them and don’t want to give them up, and so you desperately blame society for making you feel guilt. But it is your own soul which is causing you feelings of guilt, and you will continue to be tormented for your acts by your own soul for your entire life, and afterwards too, if you do not repent.
            We don’t judge you because we are sinners. The Church is a place for sinners as Mark was trying to simply point out. Come join us, you are welcome. With Christ you will find peace if you seek the truth with all your heart.

            • ds

              You are a very sick individual, full of hatred and bitterness, and a deviant. Keep it up and you will go to hell…We don’t judge you…

              MAKES SENSE

              • yan

                good point. i judge the actions; and in doing so, i do judge him, in the sense of taking his measure. In saying that God says what will happen to him if he keeps doing what he says he is proud of doing, I am merely reporting. But i don’t judge in order to condemn him; rather to warn him of the condemnation that God prepares for people that do those things.

      • Rob

        If we’re talking about legislation to define marriage as, you know, marriage (you’re short on details regarding this alleged ramming), then it ain’t my private religious opinion. It’s the opinion (religious or not) of more than 50% of the people who have voted on it in most states. Which would suggest that it’s more than just us Kathlics, seen as probably 50% of us would vote to allow “gay marriage” anyway. ‘Cause, you know, we’re monolithic like that.

      • Ted Seeber

        Since when have the Bishops rammed any legislation at all down anybody’s throat? It’s YOUR side that in Mexico sent soldiers into Mass to murder everybody!

      • Ye Olde Statistician

        ramming legislation down our throats because of your private religious opinions.
        Eh? The “legislation” being pushed is to change the definition in effect since the earliest written legal codes. It is useful to note that there was never any demand for marriage equivalency until after the institution had been “emptied out” by people “walking through” it. (In the West, this was about 100-150 years after governments seized control of marriage by requiring civil licenses.)

  • http://pewlady.blogspot.com Kelly Thatcher

    Nice job, Mark! I especially loved your reference to the Confiteor (which I *wish* was mandatory in the penitential rite but I digress). After thanking Jesus and telling Him I love Him, my first prayer after receiving Him is for all those assembled. I mean, after all, we, as you said, *asked* for each others’ prayers!

  • Thinkling

    Mark, don’t feed the trolls. Pray for them instead (and ask for Archbishop Sheen’s intercession, not one hundred people etc etc)

    There are more straw men in these comboxes than at a Ray Bolger fan club.

    • Jared

      I don’t think she’s trolling. The rage seems authentic to me, so some discussion may help if RFR is willing to listen.

      • Ted Seeber

        I doubt very much that RFR is willing to listen- most feminists talk but never do get around to listening. HOWEVER- it is always worth while engaging trolls with charity- because for every person taking part in the discussion, there are 20 more reading it.

        • Rosemarie

          +J.M.J+

          That’s how I like to look at it. Even if I’m debating with a completely intransigent comboxer I still try to keep it charitable. I may have given up on convincing him, yet I figure I’m arguing for the benefit of other readers who might be inclined toward his view but willing to consider another side. Name-calling and mockery would just turn them off to what I have to say. I’m not always perfect in that regard, but that’s what I’m aiming for.

  • http://backoftheworld.com Ryan M.

    Mark, this post expresses my feelings exactly. As an evangelical protestant, I remember experiencing great disillusionment whenever an exalted leader was exposed as corrupt. “But wait, you mean that being a charismatic/reformed/baptist/anglican/whatever-other-denominational-flavor doesn’t make you a better person? You mean we didn’t graduate to perfection when we signed on to this particular sect?” Every attempt must then be made to cover up the fact that Exalted Pastor X has sinned, because it’s seen as an indictment of the organization’s beliefs as a whole. By contrast, every Catholic I know has no problem admitting that yes, Bishop So-and-so needs a good kick in the pants, but why should that stop me from being a member of Christ’s Church?

    It seems to me that Catholicism takes the parable of the wheat and the tares much more seriously, i.e., expect tares in this life; plan accordingly.

    • Mark Shea

      To be fair, the cult of the celebrity afflicts Catholics too. The tendency to anoint Folk Heros who stand in opposition to Always Assumed to Be Evil Bishop is what fuels everything from Medjugorje to the cult of Corapi. But it *is* nice, nonetheless, to have the sanity of the confiteor to remind us that we are none of us any great shakes.

    • Rosemarie

      +J.M.J+

      When I was in Evangelicalism, I was friends with a Baptist girl at my school who was struggling with her faith. One day she said, in a despairing voice, “The people at my church, they’re all so… holy.” She felt she could never measure up to others in the congregation, or at least to what she imagined them to be. I replied that they probably all seemed that way in church but everyone sins, like the Bible says. I then said, “I sin every day,” and she looked at me with surprise. Like she couldn’t believe I would admit to that.

      Yet I could understand how she could think that way. On Sunday mornings, I sometimes looked around me at the other worshipers in my fellowship, with their hands upraised, singing praise and worship songs with such feeling, and I thought, “They must be so close to God.” Maybe for us the confessional is an antidote to that kind of thinking. When you’re standing there on line with other people waiting to confess, it drives home the fact that you’re not the only one, that we’re all sinners in need of God’s forgiveness and grace.

    • Sal

      Most of my relations tend towards a “find the church you like and go there” approach. Their puzzlement was how could anyone “like” the Catholic church?
      One of my conversion problems was the behavior of ordinary Catholics. Not that I thought I was morally better, but wondered why they weren’t better, having all that Truth and all.
      Once I grasped the reality in Mark’s last paragraph and recognized that I alone was responsible for my own Catholic witness, it all made sense. And having continually struggled to co-operate with grace since then as a Catholic, I’m a little sheepish about my initial difficulty.
      And yes, I love the Confiteor- since I go to the EF, I get to say it all the time.

      • http://backoftheworld.com Ryan M.

        Absolutely. I sincerely wish that the Confiteor was used more regularly in the OF. Even the most orthodox parishes I’ve been to seem to eschew it, and I haven’t the slightest idea why…

        • Ted Seeber

          I have an idea why. It’s one of the things that keeps me away from liberalism, and it’s one of my pet liturgical abuses of the “Spirit of Vatican II” crowd. Priests are especially guilty of messing up the Sacrament of Confession with this one, I’ve gone in and confessed to Mortal Sins only to be told “that isn’t a sin”.

          Denial of sin. Somewhere along the line, they got the idea that we were all feeling too guilty. For “Pastoral” reasons, they don’t want people to even *suspect* that their personal problems *might* be sins. This is also the reason why pro-life and anti-contraception teaching is so rare, and why just about anybody under the age of 40 needs an IPhone App to do a proper examination of conscience.

  • rachel

    Please quit whining Religion Free Realist. I, like Mark and others don’t care what you do in private but the street does go both ways. You absolutely insist that you get your way (want “gay” marriage, adopt, corrupt the youth, etc). You absolutely insist that an entirely secular view of the world/art/philosophy/etc be the only view expressed in public. You don’t want to hear any other views, especially ones that call into question this entire edifice. You don’t want to hear a view that believes there is evil in the world and that certain behaviors is wrong and unhealthy. No, you and other atheists and homosexual activists wants the Church to shut up entirely. When we say we live in a free country with free speech, assembly, press, etc that means that there must be the freedom to have different views and to express them PUBLICLY. We have aright and a duty to speak out and it is this more than anything else that is under attack from people like you who want to dish it out but can’t take it. You want it all to be “safe” for you because its always..always about you, right?? I am not saying that all homosexuals and even all atheists are like this. In fact, I will venture to say that many of them aren’t but you love to speak for all of them and for some reason hate anyone other views that conflict with your own. That is hardly a mark of a mature adult, right? So, please be mature and open your mind. Listen to other viewpoints other than your own and in fact, champion the right for anyone, yes even the Catholic Church, to speak out and express our views in the actual public square.

    • Confederate Papist

      Nobody likes knowing that what they like to do is morally wrong. Intellect demands a rational review and repentance. Don’t know if RFR is going to go that route, but we can pray that she does.

  • Mr. Patton

    Ah, transparency through secrecy. Now that is a mystery of finance…:D

  • http://catholiccinephile.wordpress.com/ Evan

    When I saw this post had 50 comments, I thought for sure it would be a few Trads accusing you of being a liberal for calling the hierarchy inept and saying that we are all sinners and are equal in God’s eyes. Anyways, I found it amusing that the troll was an atheist arguing an off topic point, like many Trads do.

    • Mark Shea

      Generally, Trads are extremely happy to rail at the hierarchy and call them inept.

      • http://catholiccinephile.wordpress.com/ Evan

        Yes, but that’s okay because they’re conservative. If you disagree with them on any issue and call the hierarchy inept, you’re a no good liberal trying to undermine the authority of the Church.

        • ivan_the_mad

          Minor objection: I’d think reactionary would be nearer the mark than conservative.

          • Sal

            Gentlemen,
            Why is there gratuitous Trad-bashing out of nowhere? That seems kind of random.

            • ivan_the_mad

              Because your comment is a reply to mine, I’ll answer that I’m not “Trad-bashing”; I think it’s more accurate to describe them as reactionary than conservative.

              • http://catholiccinephile.wordpress.com/ Evan

                Ivan: Yes, reactionary is a better word.

                Sal: I wasn’t trying to bash Trads (I’m something of a traditionalist myself, and I only criticize the reactionary type because I’m often tempted to be that way.) I was surprised this post caused such a stir and I made a bad guess as to the source.

                • Sal

                  Okay. Thanks for the response.

  • TA4

    Such deep philosophical waters! So many subjects. All I want to make clear (to RFR) is that the Catholic Church does not have a monopoly on a traditional view of marriage. They are not the only ones who have flawed leadership. All Christian faiths share these. My Catholic friends are simply more visible and targeted. Rachel did a good job of sharing ideas that I agree with.

  • J.H.M.O

    Actually, the AP article to which Mr. Shea linked seemed to me to indicate that neither the Vatican nor the Council of Europe was supposed to publicize the still-preliminary “report card” until certain other raters give or maybe alter their evaluations, pending a final report in about a month from now.

  • Greg Smith

    I just wanted to take this opportunity to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this entire page including the comments and responses. As Mr. Shea would probably guess, I have very highly developed and defined views touching on the discussion underway here. With only an occasional wince I must say I petty much concur with the home team’s somewhat impressive stand. Some clear thinking on display here. (Don’t get too happy Mark, you n I are still likely to lock horns =] )
    Would you do me a favor Mark? Would you read my post @ 12:44 AM about 75% of the way down this http://tnation.t-nation.com/free_online_forum/world_news_war/any_dudes_wanna_get_married?id=4623928&pageNo=6 page? You have my word there is no devil worshiping, mad as a fish Calvinist trickery goin on here. I’m truly interested in your view of what I said there. You may be surprised. You can let me know at tiribulus@yahoo.com if you don’t want to answer publicly. OR, you can tell me to f*** off and that’s ok too.

  • http://stevenadunn.wordpress.com Steven Dunn

    Catholics keep teaching a rational faith, but when the persecutions come here in the United States it’s going to be all emotion. It’s the cult of the self that’s going to attack us. What a pathetic foe.

  • alter Dan

    I didn’t know we are now required to make “report cards” public or expect others to do so.

  • David Paggi

    Mark: Thanks for this excellent post, a really accessable reflection on the sublime humility (or humble sublimity – with apologies to St Thomas!) of the Confetior. I am grateful that the “new” translation returns to the three repetitions I remember from the 60′s. I am a cradle Catholic who has profited mightily from the contributions of so many Evangelical converts like yourself.

    A case in point is Rob Evans, the “Donut Man”, who as an actor found the gestures and movements we make in the liturgy, like striking the breast 3x, make profound sense, something I would likely never have considered. Really “old” Catholics also remember to strike their breast 3x during the “agnes Dei”.

    Since you had to confront all these gestures during your conversion, I would be greatly interested to learn if these presented any particular difficulty for you, or conversely, if you found they made good sense relative to Protestant practice.

    God Bless!

  • DavidM

    I love you, Mark Shea. I’m grateful and humbled to be able to call a dubious jerk like you my brother.

    • Mark Shea

      Gawrsh. Back atcha.

  • Chris

    “Who am I kidding? i don’t belong here any more than you do, so let’s pray for each other and ask the the Graduates in Heaven to put in a good word for us, trusting that God will cut us slack again just so long as we keep cutting each other slack.”

    Thank you, Mark. This is the best quip I’ve read in the blogosphere in a long time. I stand convicted as charged.

  • reader

    “In sectarian Protestantism, the question is always whether you are pure enough, whether you are a “real Christian”, whether your “really meant it” when you asked Jesus into your heart, whether your latest grotesque failure means your whole life as a Christian has been one huge fraud.”

    I admit that this is my general attitude. I am a Christian and believe in the teachings of the Catholic Church, but the people in it disappoint me to extremes. The only ones that I typically can relate to in terms of having lived a clean life are converts from Protestantism. I don’t understand why it is so diffcult for some people to not do drugs, not drink and not have relations before marriage, etc. It’s really pretty easy to not do things, and yet so many people do them anyways. I understand what you are saying about the Church being built on its weakest link, but are you saying that we are just supposed to throw standards out the window? What’s wrong with having standards for people? I talking about basic standards here, not expecting people to sell their homes and move to the desert.

    • Mark Shea

      are you saying that we are just supposed to throw standards out the window?

      No. I’m saying “forgive as you have been forgiven” and “bear with one another out of reverence for Christ” and “if you do not forgive, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you”.

    • Credo

      ‘The only ones that I typically can relate to in terms of having lived a clean life are converts from Protestantism.’
      You refer to a phenomenon which I have often noticed. When I was a Catholic, back in the days of ‘Ne Temere’ I often noted the enthusiasm of converts. I thought they were just trying to impress their fellow parishioners, but when I had a religious conversion experience, and left the Catholic to become Pentecostals I noted that converts, including converts from Catholicism, had the same spirit, and enthusiasm. I now believe that in both cases they had a genuine change of heart, and received the Holy Spirit FOR THE FIRST TIME! It was the same among Charismatic Catholics; some stayed in the Catholic Church, but many left to join the more enthusiastic evengelical groups.

  • http://www.sff.net/people/john-c-wright/ John C Wright

    Amen, and I think I feel a rant a-coming on! (http://www.scifiwright.com/2012/07/confiteor-and-the-pride-of-lucifer/)

    • ds

      You’ll have to pardon us for our ignorance, as not all of us have had the benefit of a personal visit from the blessed mother.

  • http://liturgicaljunkie.blogspot.com Anna

    I think my favorite analogy came in the comments
    “But I don’t see why it’s unreasonable to think that maybe the doctrinal ducks are not in the right order when you see how inept the duck organizers are.”

    Jesus set the ducks in a row. The Bishops’ job is not “duck organizers” but duck protectors (or, duck evangelists). The infallibility of the Church assures us that the row of ducks won’t be touched, not that the duck watchers will be good at their job (and that goes for everyone who sins). We believe the Holy Spirit protects the ducks. We can look at the arrangement of the ducks and come to greater understandings of why Jesus arranged the ducks the way He did. The Bishops are here to see how the ducks are lined up, and then to share with everyone what they’ve found. They can be wrong with what they tell everyone, but that doesn’t change how the ducks are. The ducks can’t be rearranged, even if someone wanted to try. To (mis)quote Ven. Fulton Sheen “the [ducks] are the [ducks] even if nobody believes it”. We’re like fluffy little ducklings… trying to follow the mother duck (Jesus and the teachings He gave us), but sometimes getting lost because things along the way look shiny (sin).

  • Annie

    Did you read the original article? The parties are not able to divulge the results of the report because “Moneyval’s procedures forbid it.”
    So the article has a misleading headline …and then you base your response on it?!

  • http://www.azoic.com/ Irenaeus of New York

    The ark was filled to the brim with unclean animals that stunk to high heaven. Animals which I imagine were gnawing at the ropes and disturbing the very pitch that sealed the vessel. Animals which were probably fighting and even eating each other as they established an improvised pecking order of social and biological dominance, as they coped with the new “world” they found themselves in. Eight imperfect men running around in the shifting waves of putrid dung trying to unsuccessfully manage an ark of salvation without any of the necessary skills. Not a sailor among them, but in the wisdom of Noah, he trusted the same Pilot who guides the Church today.

    • Mr. Patton

      I think that you exaggerated Pope Benedict’s age.

  • TaylorKH

    Wow! Now I understand how parents get exhausted by their newborn infant’s incessant crying. Good job Mark Shea and friends.
    RFR: you need God to heal you because you are very deeply wounded – and woundedness leads to intense disorder sometimes. Try to humble yourself and ask God, contritely, for His merciful help – and He will.

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