Before somebody panics…

You remember the “BENEDICT’S RESIGNATION INVALID!!!” panic a couple of days ago and the “NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER A LIZARD CREATURE!!!!” flap?  Sensible people exercise common sense about such matters and don’t ask, “Could this be true?”  Instead, they say, “Documentation please?” and put the burden of proof on the hysteric making the claim.

But with Francis, for some reason, I hear from lots of Catholics who are ready, willing, and able to dissolve in panic everytime somebody makes a loopy charge against him–and the loopier the charge, the more credulous some people are about it.

Today, there is an absolutely wack charge being leveled against him:

Catholic Pope Francis charged, trial set, for trafficking orphans

Mhm.

Now, the stupid way of approaching this headline is to shriek (either in glee or in terrified panic, depending on whether you are a reactionary who hates the pope and is delighted to see him destroyed, a progressive who hates the Church and is delighted to see it destroyed, or a rank and file Catholic who feels beaten up by the Scandal and the Culture Wars and lives in fear of yet another shoe dropping), “We’ve been lied to again! He’s a fraud!”

Here’s the thing: usually with frauds there are lots of warning signs, particularly when they’ve been doing it for 76 years. Guys like Maciel and Corapi were dropping red flags for years and those red flags were dutifully picked up and round filed by willing dupes who kept saying, “Nothing to see here.” even as their accusers were screaming bloody murder and bringing lots of coordinated evidence that piled up concerning their lies. Bergoglio, in contrast, has lived very consistently and his life has been an open book. He is, in a word, not a child trafficker, for heaven’s sake.

So what else might account for the headline?

Well, it could have something to do with the grandstanding hot dog grabbing the headline. According to RationalWiki–Rationalwiki, mind you, not site that is super-keen on protectin the pope’s rep: “The International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State (or ITCCS) is a one-man blog that pretends to be a tribunal established to enforce common law. Despite claims of being based in Brussels, the whole thing is written in Canada by Kevin D. Annett, a defrocked United Church of Canada priest.” Read on and you find that even conspiracy theory kooks steer clear of him.

Moral: When something wildly contradictory to common sense is asserted of somebody whose character is evident and well-documented, the magic words are not, “How could I have been so blind?” but “Documentation please?”

Obviously this does not mean the pope (or any other human) is incapable of sin and even grave sin. We’ve learned that if we’ve learned nothing else over the past decade. Nor does it mean we go on believing in somebody’s innocence when there is real evidence of evil done. But we Catholics have *got* to stop whipsawing between circling the wagons around Folk Heroes who are obvious frauds and believing the absolute worst on the flimsiest basis every time some quack with a website declares Francis the antichrist. Yesterday, I ran across some kook who was trying to bring him up on charges of being a Lutheran who says that Jesus was guilty of sin. People make themselves crazy about this man, which is, as far as I am concerned, one of the evidences of his holiness. Prudence, common sense and elementary discernment are in startling low supply when it comes to our culture’s understanding of Francis. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

  • Heather

    Wait, this guy was defrocked by the United Church of Canada (which has ministers, not priests, by the way)? I grew up in the UCC. They have entire self-described “post-theistic” congregations. You’d have to be pretty darn loopy to get turfed out by them.

    Ah. Further reading tells me that it likely had something to do with claiming that the church’s unfortunate native residential school programs were a planned deliberate genocide instead of just a well intentioned really bad idea badly executed. Yeah, that counts as pretty darn loopy.

  • ivan_the_mad

    “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matt. 5:10-12, NABRE

  • missing

    “Burden of Proof”. Le Sigh.
    The burden of proof rests upon those who believe “Burden of Proof” actually matters to prove that there is in fact such a thing as burden of proof

    For the rest of us who merely desire and long for the truth, I will gladly cooperate with you to seek it, burdening neither of us, and benefitting both of us simultaneously.

    • Almario Javier

      The problem is that without establishing a burden of proof standard, one can just make all sorts of wacky accusations, like that the Queen of England is made of cheese.

      • missing

        that is not a wacky accusation if, in fact the queen of england truly is made of cheese.
        To just immediately say: “I won’t believe it! you must prove this to me” is, to me, lazy, and frankly, impossible. If you have already decided that he is wrong or ‘wacky’, then not much evidence is going to change your mind.
        instead, search out evidence for yourself which helps to keep an open mind. If you seek what is TRUE and not just someone else’s evidence, then I don’t think you’d mind doing some research yourself

        • orual’s kindred

          Well, if someone says, ‘I have gathered evidence that the queen isn’t made of cheese, and I’m satisfied,’ does that then settle the question?

          • missing

            for sure. It just shouldn’t matter which side gathers that evidence if both sides desire to know the truth

            • orual’s kindred

              Well, but how can anyone tell which evidence points to the truth?

              • missing

                Well that is up to each individual. People certainly do reject evidence for a variety of reasons.
                One example is when the atheist community rejects the fact that all societies throughout history have discovered spirituality. To me, this is makes it evident that we are ‘wired’ to know about spirituality (created in God’s image, etc), but the atheist simply rejects this piece of evidence for personal reasons (bias? insufficiency? etc)

                • orual’s kindred

                  that is up to each individual

                  Both individuals have said the queen is and isn’t made of cheese. How can either of them be certain that the evidence they gathered is correct?

                  There may be a lot of atheists who reject the fact that societies throughout history have practiced some sort of spirituality. I’m not sure if ‘discovered’ can apply here; and even if it did it certainly doesn’t apply to all. There are two societies in which the formative religion was revealed :-D (I don’t think I can use the term ‘spirituality’ either). Nonetheless, their rejection of this does not necessarily mean that they haven’t tried searching for the truth, or that they reject it for ‘personal reasons’. Misunderstanding is an actual though not personal reason (in the way that phrase is used here).

                  • missing

                    right, this is why science is much more faith-based that people are led to believe these days.

                    Evidince merely points in a certain direction, but evidence is NOT the same as ‘proof’. Further, not all evidence is created equal, and lastly, all evidence is subject to the tools available to gather it.

                    Relying on available evidence is a good start to describing truth, but scientists and those who place all their trust in science must always keep in mind that evidence is not fact, and is subject to change and/or refinement.

                    For example, the curvature of the earth is 0.000126 per square mile. If your available information-gathering tools are only precise to .01, you are not going to detect this curvature. It would be reasonable to SAY that you believe that the earth is flat based on the evidence you have gathered, but you must leave room for more evidence to be presented.

                    In short, I am trying to say that science is not a stable foundation for a person’s complete trust and faith. That is reserved for God alone. Science, however, can reveal the beauty and mystery and omniscience of God’s design, and when viewed as a tool to glorify His creation, fulfils its purpose and becomes even more beautiful. But, this is off topic.

                    Back on topic, If someone made an outrageous claim such as ‘the earth is round!”, I would not merely say ‘that is up to you alone to prove, I will continue to disregard anything you say until further evidence in sufficient volume and quality persuades me otherwise”.
                    Instead, I would say: well, you COULD be right. The only reason I believe the earth to be flat now is based on state-of-the-art technology, but there is still room for more evidence to be presented. Let’s invent next-gen technology to gather evidence, and use it together.

                    • orual’s kindred

                      Certainly science is not the only foundation for a person’s trust and faith. However, I wonder how this relates to what you say.

                      As your example demonstrated, not everyone has access to the proper tools necessary for the task. I certainly do not have the resources to build next-gen tech to determine whether this planet (if it is a planet!) is round, flat, or hexagonal. I could go ahead and try to answer this question regardless, but then I would doubt the value of my findings.

                      You say that there should always be room for evidence to be presented. This rather implies, however, that all evidence will always be inconclusive, and any set of contradictory findings are of equal value. This applies to a theist’s statement about God, as well as to an atheist’s denial of that statement.

                      I note that you don’t, in fact,seem to leave room for evidence supporting burden of proof. This strikes me as an interesting exemption from the rule.

                    • orual’s kindred

                      *room for evidence of any sort. Bah. I should go to sleep.

                    • missing

                      Well, i do suppose that it is more of an opinion that I have negative feelings towards this ‘argument’ of burden of proof. I would certainly be interested to hear why it should be a ‘thing’ though.

                    • orual’s kindred

                      My apologies for the late reply. I’ve been, and will continue to be busy for a bit, so I don’t know how frequently or for how long I can continue this conversation. I apologize for that as well.

                      However, I can reiterate right now that even if everyone were to personally investigate every single claim presented as information, not everybody has the resources and capabilities to accurately gather and test data (as previously mentioned). The worth of these investigations, and the findings they produce, may be questionable at best. Perhaps this might appear to encourage an intellectual environment of continuing curiosity and inquiry. However, in such an arrangement, even the most well-intentioned research would far too often have as much weight as false and malicious claims (since that arrangement puts the emphasis on whether the results were produced by individuals conducting their own research).

                      Also, those who intend to carry out honest research (or develop next-gen technology) will have to test their own findings and/or prototypes. Those who don’t can just stop as soon as they find data and/or produce instruments that support their preferences, and conclude their investigation is complete without having to bother about veracity or reliability.

                      There will remain standards by which claims and evidence can and must be tested. If all that is necessary is for individuals to ‘find things out for themselves’, false assertions will practically be of equal value with accurate information. They will also be that much more difficult to refute, as well holding people promoting them accountable for promoting them. Refutations, furthermore, will be too often based on differing opinion, preferences, gut feeling, etc. All these fall under ‘personal reasons’, which you were previously criticizing.

      • Ye Olde Statistician

        Cheddar, in particular. Perhaps Wilton.

  • iamlucky13

    It’s nice to have the full background, but It actually would have been almost as revealing to simply say, “According to an article on examiner.com, the pope is a child trafficker.” Examiner.com is a joke.

    Examiner.com is a user-contributed site, so you might think it is like Wikipedia, but unlike Wikipedia, there is no editorial oversight. You sign up to be a “local examiner,” write whatever you want, and get paid based on how many clicks you generate.

    Effectively, it is a collection of blogs dressed up as a news site.

    But since stories based on verifiable information can generally be found more easily at more conventional news outlets, they tend not to generate much traffic at Examiner.com. What does work, however, are stories about things certain groups of people WANT to believe, but can never find a source with which to back up their belief. Give them the source they’re looking for, and they’ll click on your page.

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com/ Thomas L. McDonald

    I went to his website and watched his video. There are three possibilities.

    Option 1) It’s some kind of strange performance art.

    Option 2) He’s completely barking mad.

    Option 3) There is no option 3.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=dlsEm2hvXRk

    • Almario Javier

      Option 3 is he’s a con artist, which he has been in the First Nations communities.

    • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

      The constant use of the word “convergence” is revealing. And hilarious.

  • orual’s kindred

    I think I just assumed that the only people going “BENEDICT’S RESIGNATION INVALID!!!” are people working in rumor mills. I guess there are those who…are employed there but…don’t know they’re employed…?

    …like…sleeper employees</em…?

    O__O

  • lspinelli

    Three things.

    It’s Examiner.com.

    The woman’s “articles” all refer back to this Kevin Annett nutcase. (Is she being paid by him?)

    This idiocy links to another piece of atrocity: “Are Catholic Elites practicing Black Mass Child Sacrifice?”

    Click!


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