Why It Matters

The cardinals are gathered in Vatican City to elect a new pope. Most of the people I know who aren’t Catholic say, “So what? Who cares? I’m not a Catholic. That doesn’t matter to me. Also, screw Lent. I need some chocolate!”

The problem is that no matter what your religion, or lack of same, it does matter who the next pope is. The pope wields considerable temporal power. If you doubt me, just as the various former Soviet satellite nations, especially Poland. While the pope may not have an actual, real army, the effect that he has on his people is enough to grant him a great deal of power over the affairs of the world.

This is especially true in places that haven’t yet learned to ignore the stupider things the Catholic church likes. Consider the case of Africa and Latin America. Both are marked by a very large Catholic population, and both are also marked by high birth rates and, in the case of Africa, a rampant AIDS epidemic. This is directly caused by the church’s inability to deal with the real world and understand that people will fuck, and not every time should produce a child. This is a real problem in these countries, as opposed to here in the USA, and other places like Australia and Western Europe where people have learned to pick and choose what they believe in their churches. This isn’t even touching on things like the rape of children and the marginalization of women, both of which I’m sure will continue full-bore (as it were), under whomever the new pope is.

So the pope does matter to non-Catholics. It matters if you don’t want children getting raped with impunity. It matters if you want women to have some control over their reproductive lives. It matters if you have any sort of interest in human development. It matters.

I hope the next pope is someone more modernizing than Benny 16, but this is unlikely, since he and JP2 picked, if I recall correctly, all the cardinals who are voting. But you never know. I guess we shall see in time.

Papam Non Habemus

Worst troll doll ever.

Worst troll doll ever.

The world is popeless, and all the better for it. Well, not technically popeless, as there are a couple other popes out there, but the Catholic one, Pope Gollum Pope Palpatine Pope Benedict XVI, aka Joe Ratzinger, aka Joey the Rat, has stepped down from office. Yes, we’re in what Christopher Hitchens liked to describe as one of those rare times when no one on Earth is infaliable, and as you can see from the tone here, I’m not above firing a few parting shots at the bastard as he flies off to “retirement”.

And make no mistake, this seems to very much be “retirement”, since he’s going to be called Pope Emeritus, will (eventually), live at the Vatican, be called “his Holiness”, wear everything he’s worn before except the Papal Ring and those stylish red shoes, and will be served by the exact same secretary who will also be serving the new pope. That won’t help but cast a shadow of suspicion over whoever ends up seated on the throne next.

Benny 16 must be classed as a failure pope (please note, that article I linked to is written by a Catholic), in almost every way possible. He came into office hoping to restore the power of the church in Europe, and left it in tatters, with the church severely wounded in his native Germany and collapsing like a house of cards in Ireland, the last major Catholic stronghold in Northern Europe. That, of course, is nothing compared with the child rape crimes that he helped cover up as head of what used to be called the Inquisition. There he went out of his way, under the direction of John Paul II, to do everything he could in order to protect the church, and not its young victims. Of course it’s a given that he’s also furthered the church’s stand against homosexuality, female ordination, married priests and condom use, even among married people to prevent HIV transmitting from one spouse to the other.

Whomever the next pope will be (and my guess is he will be a black African, making him the fourth African to hold the office), he’s likely to continue Benedict’s efforts at dragging the church kicking and screaming back to the time of St. Augustine. One part of me says good; further alienating the church from its members in Europe, North America, Australia and, increasingly, in South America is only to the benefit of the world. But the other part thinks it’s a pity that one of the oldest organizations in the world-an organization I famously disagree with and loathe (see also here, here, and here), on every level-is unable to evolve (something that the church believes in, btw), and focus on the benefits, both temporal and spiritual, that it gives its people.

But at least Benny 16 is officially gone, and thank goodness. The man will never face trial like I want him to, but resigning is the next best thing.

Slip-Sliding on a Slippery Slope?

Benny 16 made some comments that may have great ramifications for the Catholic Church’s evil stand on birth control.

“There could be single cases that can be justified, for instance when a prostitute uses a condom, and this can be a first step towards a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, to develop again the awareness of the fact that not all is allowed and that one cannot do everything one wants,” Benedict said.

Presumably this would be a male prostitute.

So, ok, here’s the thing: suppose a woman is infertile? Or a man? Couldn’t either of them be allowed to use condoms in those cases? There’s no chance of pregnancy, so why not?

This is at least progress of a sort, I suppose, and certainly better than what Benny 16 said before on the subject. I just look forward to the day that the Church adopts a sane policy on birth control.

More Stupid Remarks From the Pope

Big Poppa Benny 16

Pope Benedict XVI is currently on a state visit to the United Kingdom where, frankly, he should be facing charges. Of course he can’t be charged with anything since he’s the head of a sovereign country. Vatican City shouldn’t be consider its own nation, but it is, so we have to go with that for now.

Anyhow, the other day the Pope compared atheists with Nazis and implied they were trying to bring about an atheist regime in Europe (despite the fact that Hitler was Catholic and the whole Nazi image was built around Christianity). Then he made some even stupider comments about how Christianity is being “marginalized” around the world.

“I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalisation of religion, particularly of Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters, even in nations which place a great emphasis on tolerance.

“There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced, or at least relegated to the purely private sphere.

“There are those who argue that the public celebration of festivals such as Christmas should be discouraged, in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none.”

Yeah, you know, Christianity is the largest religion in the world by a fair number. I’m pretty sure we don’t need to worry about it being marginalized, at least in the poor, uneducated countries of the world. First world nations like those in Europe are a different matter, so he might be somewhat right there.

But pay attention to the other stuff he says. Basically he’s saying that religion should be mixed in with politics. He’s also saying that it’s “questionable” that people might be offended by state-sponsored celebrations of specific religious holidays.

Let me put to rest any questions on this issue, Benny 16. I, personally, would be offended to have state-sponsored religious holidays. I am offended when I see the line between church and state being blurred or removed completely.

The Pope also issued some more fairly weak apologies for, you know, all those priests raping kids. From all the evidence it sounds like he was involved in the cover-up from the start and spent a great deal of time and effort helping to hide the priests involved. He should apologize. He should also be investigated criminally and, if there’s evidence, charged.

I know that won’t happen, but I can dream. In the meantime, I still find myself wondering how any person of conscience can continue to remain a part of the Catholic church.

Yes, He Helped Cover it Up

So there now appears to be complete proof that the current Pope, when he was in other positions within the church, helped to cover up rape and torture of children doing so for the good of the church. What a slimeball.

To Catholics: look, I don’t honestly care if you people want this man in charge. Sure, he helped obstruct justice and assisted in the rape, torture and molestation of children, and currently puts me in mind of Emperor Palpatine, but so what? If you guys really think he’s the person who best represents your church on Earth, so be it.

But if you’re smart, you’ll start withholding all your donations to the church until this asshat is gone from the Papacy. Also, you might want to shop around a bit. There’s still plenty of other churches are that are anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-choice and anti-birth control.

How Deep Does the Rot Go?

So despite what I wrote on April 1, Emperor Palpatine the Pope is still very much in office. Boo, him.

We likely won’t ever know how deep the rot goes in the Catholic church when it comes to the horrific cases of rape and torture that priests have indulged in for centuries. We do know a few things, though, and much of what we know seems to indicate the Pope himself is in this up to his eyeballs.

Daylight Atheism has a wonderful summary of the situation at this point. I highly recommend going there and reading it. He summarizes it all much better than I can.

Go read it, and then if you’re a Catholic, come back and tell me why this man should remain as your leader and for bonus points, tell me why your church isn’t an insanely corrupt institution that should be struck from the Earth.

Pope to Retire, Superman to Marvel!

Off to retirement in Argentina!

Two incredibly big, interesting news stories today!

First, in surprising news, it was announced by the Vatican that the current Pope, Benedict XVI, or Benny 16 to smart-asses like me, is going to resign. This will be the first pope in many a century to do so.

The resignation of the Pope comes in the wake of a series of scandals involving priests torturing and raping young children and the cover-up of such abuses. A Vatican spokesman, Cardinal Lirap Lofo, formerly Archbishop of Samoa, and a front-runner to replace the current Pope, said that the Pope is resigning as a way of taking responsibility for all the rape and torture that he personally allowed and covered up while working Germany as well as a form of atonement for all other crimes the church has committed over the centuries. A good start, I’d say, but I’m not sure why they don’t just close down their church and come and join mine.

What a Marvelous guy!

Meantime, in comic book news, there was a stunning announcement from DC Comics owner Warner Brothers earlier today that they’ve sold the rights to Superman to competitor Marvel Comics. The deal, announced at monthly meeting of industry trade group, the Allied Publishers, Retailers, Investors, Licensees, and Fanboys of Ohio, Limited, came as a major shock to comic fans everywhere, but I’m surprised that they were surprised. The character has been fairly moribund over the years and sales have stagnated. Plus there’s a whole crapload of problems centering around the legal and rights status, and if I’m not much mistaken he’s going to be dropping into the public domain in a few years regardless. Oh, and for the record Marvel said they’d start publishing the character early next year, beginning with a series of adventures centering around him and Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham.

So there you go. Two major stories that aren’t being covered by what Sarah Palin likes to call the “lamestream” media. I hope you appreciate the hard work I do in bringing you all the news!

The Greatest Force of Evil, Revisted

Something about him always puts me in mind of Gollum...

Back when I first started this blog I managed to piss off people with an article called “The Greatest Force of Evil in the World Today“. It was a fair and balanced look at the Catholic Church.

I made a few errors and had some misunderstandings about things like the Doctrine of Infallibility and was happy to be corrected on those. But there were a lot of other things I said that I stand behind fully, the most central of which is this: the Catholic church remains the greatest force of evil in the world today.

How big is their evil? Well, they still won’t allow the faithful to use birth control. If you’re HIV+ you can’t even use condoms to prevent giving it to your wife. If you have ten kids already and you can’t afford more than two, you’re expected to forgo sex for the rest of your life rather than use birth control. Then there’s the whole abortion issue.

Of course there’s also the church’s stance on gays and gay marriage and the like. They stopped adoptions in DC recently rather than risk having to let kids get adopted by gay couples. A Catholic school also expelled the children of a couple lesbians on the grounds that, since the church teaches homosexuality is a sin, they wouldn’t want the little dears constantly hearing how evil their parents are. Very kind. I also note that I haven’t yet heard a loud condemnation from the Vatican about the “kill all the gays” bill in Uganda.

Then there’s my usual saw about how obnoxious it is that the Pope lives in a palatial art museum while so many of his faithful live in mud shacks if that. If the church liquidated even 1% of its assets imagine how much good they could do for the hundreds of thousands of Catholics God made homeless in Haiti.

These are all my usual complaints about the church, and ignore all my objections to problems with their theology (the Trinity, the Pope, original sin, etc), but they all frankly pale at this point compared with what is arguably their greatest evil of the last couple centuries: children being raped and abused by priests.

This is hardly a new issue, sadly. In the States we went through this back in the early part of the last decade, where it seemed like every day brought new revelations as to the level of evil within the church.

Give him a beard and call him Santa!

One of the people in charge of dealing with the problems, a certain Cardinal Ratzinger, sent out a letter to the church authorities in America which, among other things, could be interpreted as telling them not to report any allegations of abuse to the police. Now as the author of the post I linked to points out the wording on that is somewhat ambiguous. What wouldn’t have been was a directive from Rome to report such crimes to church and civil authorities but I guess they didn’t want to go overboard and actually try to, you know, actually do anything about the situation.

Apparently even as Pope the former Cardinal still enjoys writing, since his response to a massive, widespread series of abuse cases in Ireland has been to… send a letter where he apologizes for the way the church handled the crimes that occurred. For some this is enough, but not for me and not for Christopher Hitchens who tears the Pope a new one over this letter.

Civil authorities around the world really need to step up and do some real investigations of the various sex and abuse crimes the church has been involved in. The crimes themselves are horrible enough, but the fact that the church has gone out of their way to cover it up and not cooperate with criminal investigations or report the crimes to the police. They’re allowed to get away with doing that because they’re a religious organization. No secular group would accorded the same favoritism.

I know that in the long run this scandal won’t make any real difference. I know that the believers will continue to believe. I know that in the fullness of time the current Pope (who I’ve always viewed as something of a seat-warmer), will die and his replacement will probably be someone who has at least heard of the Enlightenment, but really I doubt that the culture of corruption and evil that permeates the upper-levels of the church will change much. It’d take something akin to Vatican II to bring real reform and that doesn’t appear to be on the radar.

I would however ask the church to remember this: there was a time in England where there was much discussion of the role of civil authority versus church authority. It ended with the Psychotic Bastard Church the Anglican Church being formed which cost the Catholic church a great deal of power, prestige and money. History has a way of repeating itself.

Yet More Evil From the Vatican

Back a few months ago a nine-year-old Brazilian girl was raped by her step-father. He got her pregnant. With the court’s permission the girl had an abortion and the local bishop retaliated by excommunicating everyone involved (except the girl who, while old enough to give birth, was too young to be excommunicated, and except for her step-father who, though he had raped her, was still eligible for forgiveness). At the time, I thought this was plenty evil enough, but probably the act of some local bishop being an idiot.

Ha, how wrong I was.

Pope Benny 16 issued a statement backing up the bishop’s ruling. This is no great surprise to someone like me, who views the Catholic church as the greatest force of evil in the world, and I’m sure it doesn’t come as a surprise to most of the Catholics out there, but I damn well hope it comes as a disapointment.

In case it doesn’t regard the following statement from a Vatican official, which makes the role of humanity in church quite clear:

“This is not just theory. And you can’t start backpedaling just because the real-life situation carries a certain human weight.”

So the church members and their concerns don’t really matter. All that matters is doctorine and the Church itself. Very good.

Why the hell do you people stay with an organization like this? I think I’ll stick with atheism, where humanity at the forefront of importance.

Papal Silliness

According to the Pope, bones contained in a tomb that supposedly houses the remains of St Paul are, in fact, his. This is due to a series of tests that, according to CNN, confirmed the bones dated from sometime between 1 and 200 AD.

“This seems to confirm the unanimous and undisputed tradition that these are the mortal remains of the Apostle St. Paul,” Benedict said in Sunday’s announcement.

It confirms no such thing, and shame on him for saying it does. All it confirms is that there are bones in there that are mighty old. It does not say whose bones they are.

Also, you gotta love the Catholics for relying on scientific proof like carbon dating when it suits their purposes.


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