Special Problems for Catholics

The Catholic Church was conceived in political, not spiritual, expediency and was birthed in chauvinism and oppression. Prior to the formation of a “Catholic” or universal unification, the Christian movement was diverse and a center of lively, vibrant debate.

Prior to this “universal” standardization, there were many diverse sects, from the Gnostics to the Johannine Community to the Pauline conservatives who would eventually form the core of Catholic unification. They had many differing gospels and other scriptural accounts; the New Testament was not standardized into the consistent collection until after unification was completed. At that time, many of the other gospels and texts not accepted into the canon of scripture by the Catholic Church were destroyed. We know many of them only through references about them in other texts that have survived. We have found a few of them, including Gnostic gospels of Mary Magdalene, Peter, Phillip and even Judas Iscariot that were included in the discoveries of ancient texts preserved as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Origins of Modern Christian Theology

It is ironic that, today, many conservative and Evangelical Protestant sects regard Catholics as not being true Christians.

Primarily, this is the result of Catholics’ determination to reconcile (and deny) the contradictions between Jesus’ teaching of salvation through universal compassionate love expressed in deeds, and Paul’s doctrine of salvation is through faith apart from deeds. The Protestants, basing their views on the teachings of John Calvin that would not be developed until many centuries later, simply throw out the teachings attributed to Jesus, after whom they call themselves, and accept fully the teaching of Paul, who never even met Jesus and got his start as a persecutor of Christians. To whatever extent the Catholics at least try to maintain some inclusion of Jesus’ teachings (along with the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and others whose status as legitimate Christians is also challenged by the Evangelicals), then in the contradiction between Jesus and Paul they are at least coming down on the side of their nominal founder whom they regard iconically as the “Son of God” and “Lord and Savior” while rejecting much of what he actually taught. The problem for all of them, however, is that they all deny any such contradiction exists in the first place.

What is further amazing is that many of the sects that deny Catholics their status as legitimate Christians wholly embrace the early creeds (Nicene, Athanasian, Apostolic) which were developed by none other than those very Catholics, after they had come together to form a unified, universal Church.

And these same Protestants have adopted almost exactly the same selection of ancient writings that these same Catholics (led initially by Eusebius in the early 4th century) decided of the widely-used early texts were to be considered the canonical Word of God, and they have rejected as scripture the same works that were rejected by these Catholics.

In large part, the rejected texts consisted of the Gnostic Gospels, and the Gospels of Mary Magdalene, Thomas, and even Judas, which presented dissenting views of what would become the male-dominated dogma centered around the letters of Paul and the gospels that could be most easily reconciled with Paul. (As noted in the more detailed article on the contradictions between Paul and Jesus, the letter from Jesus’ brother James, written to defend his dead brother, directly contradicts Paul, and there was great discussion over whether or not to include it, but it barely got accepted because the idea of rejecting a letter from the brother of Jesus was too much even for these protectors of male supremacy and the Pauline dogma.)

For a movement so quick to question the right of others to call themselves Christians (because they share the common belief in Jesus as Son of God and Savior), these Protestants have certainly been quick to build the entire core of their theology upon the foundations bequeathed to them by these very “heretics” they disparage.

That said, while it is important to understand the critical role of the Catholic unification in the establishment and proliferation of modern Christianity — and to acknowledge that, however different, Catholics are indeed Christian — there are some specific and problematic points of difference that apply to Catholics separately from other Christians.

It is also extremely important to recognize the difference between engaging in a philosophical discussion about the rational and intellectual merits of the theological claims of Catholicism as a religious tradition, and attacking Catholic people or engaging in anti-Catholic hate speech.

Every organization or institution of human origins, especially if it is has existed over a lengthy period of time, will have been plagued by dark chapters in its history, and faulty leadership of its fallible mortal leaders. Identifying such human failings is not meant to denigrate individual members who are loyal and faithful and sincere in their beliefs, or to ridicule sacred rituals and observances or to undo the many great and noble achievements of the organization. The point is to note that these human foibles demonstrate that the Catholic Church is an institution of human origins and guidance; it is not instituted or ordained by an omniscient, omnipotent or all-worthy deity. It is not God’s instrument on earth; it is the fallible mortal effort of fallible mortal humans. The litany of special problems for Catholics could not exist in an institution created and overseen by an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-worthy and all-loving inerrant and infallible deity.

Official Historical Injustices

The fact of centuries of official historical acts of social and individual injustice is well -known and, with apology, even recognized by the Church. Many consider that these are “old news” and deal with problems that have been corrected. The willingness of the Church to recognize past error and reform is admirable (if not almost always greatly tardy), but this does not justify sweeping old items under the rug.

The Catholic Church claims to be God’s Church on Earth. It ascribes infallibility to its leader, the Pope, the “Father” of God’s Kingdom on Earth. It is a matter of ecclesiastical integrity that a Church that claims infallibility for its leader and Divine Authority, should have the capacity to maintain a higher standard of integrity than an institution comprised of and operated by admittedly fallible humans. Because of the human element, it might not be realistic to expect absolute perfection, but the awesome scope of violence, corruption, murder and pure evil is astounding.

Because these crimes and sins have been acknowledged by the Church and, for the most part, rectified (with apology) it is not necessary to rehash all the details in depth. But it is important to list them all in a single place, take a close look at them, and ask if it is at all seriously possible to believe that the organization instituted on Earth to reflect God’s will for the betterment of his creations, could be allowed to go so far as to commit some of the following atrocities:

Inquisition & Crusades: Massive, widespread genocide against Jews and other non-Christians, and the initiation of unprovoked military invasions of distant, non-threatening nations for purely religious reasons.

Persecution of Jews: In addition to the genocidal Inquisition, there has been long-standing persecution of Jews in pogroms and other harassment for many centuries prior to and following the Inquisition.

Persecution of Science: The Catholic Church opposed most scientific knowledge, long after it was widely known and generally accepted on a consensus basis among experts, including the knowledge that the Earth was round (dating back to calculations by Eratosthenes in 260 BC), to the discovery of planetary motions by Galileo and Newton and the discovery by Copernicus that the Earth moves around the sun, to evolution, and to many other scientific truths. In most cases, the Catholic Church was eventually forced to admit its error and adopt scientific reality, often after hundreds of years of having taken the opposite positions.

Witch burning: Joan of Arc, executed for heresy in 1431 at the age of 19, was but one of many who were burned at the stake or waterboarded or hanged because someone suspected an independent young woman or and eccentric older woman or bold, free-thinking woman of any age who was seen as being just a little too odd (or politically dangerous) for their tastes.

Genocide, Enslavement and “Convert-or-die” forced conversions of Aboriginal Peoples: Catholic nations of Spain and Portugal, under agreements adjudicated by Papal decree, conquered by brute force and then killed or enslaved entire populations of aboriginal, indigenous peoples in their defeated colonies, primarily in Latin America and the Philippines and then, even after these populations obtained independence and the official end of slavery, perpetuated their continued economic oppression in two-tiered economies in which the native populations remained impoverished laborers creating wealth to support the opulent lifestyles of the wealthy descendants of the European conquerors.

History of Papal Corruption: In the 14th and 15th centuries, the papacy and hierarchy of cardinals became increasingly corrupt, selling indulgences, dealing in financial bribes, and extensive sexual misbehavior, including multiple mistresses and Popes having sex with children, including in the case of the infamous Borgia popes, their own children (hey, why is a Pope having children anyway?). It was the expansion of this corruption that led to the protests by Martin Luther and others that resulted in both the Protestant Reformation and internal efforts to reform the Church. It can hardly be believed that the level of perversity and widespread, open corruption could possibly have represented God’s church on earth.

Modern Historical Injustices

World War II Nazis and Pope Pius XII

Pope Pius XII reigned as Pope from 1939, as war was breaking out in Europe, until his death in 1958 at age 82. With the Vatican in a location surrounded by an Italy under Mussolini’s Fascist rule and aligned with Hitler in Nazi Germany, a powerful institution such as the Catholic monolith (but with virtually no military resources) had to walk a delicate balance in order to avoid being repressed by forcible, hostile military action.

Certainly it is understandable that the fledgling Papal administration of Pius XII would seek some measure of caution. At the same time, as a much more courageous Pope of the future, Pope John-Paul II (himself as a Pole having witnessed the oppression of World War II dictators), would demonstrate, while Popes may not command military divisions, they command moral authority. All of Mussolini’s Italy, and much of the land under German occupation, was religiously Catholic, including some of the world’s most devout followers. A word of moral authority on human rights, genocide or human dignity could have created a moral groundswell that could have toppled dictators and prevented the Holocaust.

By ending his predecessor’s ban on the virulently anti-Semitic organization Action Française in 1939, in the first month of his administration, Pius XII signaled to many an eagerness to exert hostility toward the Jews.

In June of 1939, still new in office, Pius XII worked with Brazilian emissaries to tighten Brazilian standards for issuing immigration visas, implementing standards that made it increasingly difficult for Jews and other non-Christians to obtain visas, preventing many from escaping the Holocaust.

Pius XII disregarded advise of many cardinals and other close advisors as to oppression and persecution of Jews, and refused to follow recommendations that could have reduced such atrocities. He repeatedly refused to publicly denounce the Nazi violence against Jews, despite encouragement from his advisors to do so.

In 1942, during the height of Japanese military aggression, Pius XII established diplomatic relations with the Japanese Empire, allies of the Nazis and Fascists.

There were many opportunities to stand up against violence toward Jews, but the “infallible” Pope seems to have forgotten that Jesus, the purported founder of the seat from which he reigns, was himself a Jew and, if Jesus had been living in the 1940’s instead of almost two thousand years earlier, he likely would have died in a gas chamber instead of dangling on a cross.

Protection of Child Abusers

While Popes and others at the top of the Catholic hierarchy have long given lip service to opposing child sexual abuse, my position would be that it is a long-standing official policy of the Catholic Church to endorse and support this reprehensible and disgusting practice, which is otherwise universally and vehemently opposed by all other persons of decency. In fact, I wrestled with whether or not to include this with historical or modern injustices since it has been going on for so long, but since the section on ancient wrongs deals with subjects that no longer apply today, and child abuse by priests is a current issue, I am treating it as a modern issue.

One cannot just dismiss the child sex abuse scandals as aberrant behaviors by a few perverted lone wolves acting in individual betrayal of their faith and vows. All institutions that deal with children, such as public schools, Boy Scouts, Big Brothers and Sisters, summer camps, and churches of other denominations have had to face the rare tragedies of such betrayals, yet they have not been tarnished by the same taint as the Catholic Church.

The reason for the difference is that other institutions do not have official policies to promote and encourage such disgusting practices. In the rare cases where abuse of any kind is even hinted at, other institutions react immediately and with the full force of law enforcement, firing, and openly and aggressively separating themselves from the perpetrators. They do not move the perpetrators to new areas with new victims; they cooperate with law enforcement quickly and aggressively.

In contrast, the Catholic Church has had official policies of covering up the abuse, protecting the abuser instead of the victim, and reassigning the perpetrators to new assignments, where they are exposed (in all meanings of the word) to a fresh supply of new victims. The Council of American Bishops’ report by their National Review Board, on February 27, 2004 officially acknowledged with apology their failings and their role in the scandal because of these widespread, official practices. Furthermore, after the American Bishops passed a “zero tolerance” policy to repent and change the course of these immoral policies, the Vatican rejected the Americans’ action, leaving pedophiliac abuse as still the official policy of the Catholic Church. And after Cardinal Bernard Law (outlaw?) of the Boston archdiocese faced possible charges for criminal complicity in abetting known abusers, the same Catholic Church that had abetted the perpetrators also protected him. Pope John Paul II, one of the most beloved of Popes, transferred him to hiding (openly) and protection in Rome.

The Church claims that it was unaware of the magnitude of the abuse, but this is simply dishonest. It is now revealed that in one archdiocese alone, Los Angeles, California, more than 200 priests were involved, and detailed records of the problem were maintained. And it is nothing new. As far back as 1759, 250 years ago, the French philosopher Voltaire wrote to identify and oppose this terrible offense against decency in his masterpiece Candide.

When Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of the Los Angeles Diocese, ceases his years-long obstruction of justice and refusal to cooperate with authorities (which has not occurred as of this writing), and when the Vatican ceases harboring of Cardinal Law, only then will they begin to have a modicum of credibility in their denial of official policies to harbor the criminal child rapists.

Ongoing denial of Equal Rights for Women and those those in the LGBT Community: The ongoing denial of equal rights for women to full participation in Church leadership and government, as well as freedom to control their own reproductive self-determination, is well known, as is their denial of full equality for lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgendered persons. The Church does not deny these official policies of oppression, but openly embraces them as official Church doctrine.

Issues of Doctrine, Ritual and Observance

Idolatry and Graven Images

The Second Commandment (from the Ten Commandments) says: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything…” [Exodus 20:4]

That is pretty explicit. The Moslems, who also claim to be descendants of Abraham through Ishmael, also have a variation of this Commandment in the Koran (Qur’an), in Sûrah 6:103 and 42:11, which for many centuries they interpret so literally as to forbid any images or statues of any kind, including photographs, though recent technological advancement has relaxed this to some extent, though images of God or their prophet Mohammed, especially in ridicule, still evoke tremendous negative reactions.

In clear violation of this, Catholics (as well as some Protestants), maintain elaborate statues of Jesus, Mary and many of the apostles, and often pray to these. What is even more degrading is that many of these depict Jesus at his worst, hanging lifeless upon an implement of capital punishment, and many even wear miniature versions of these ghoulish accolades to the death of their “Lord” around their necks, some with the bloody corpse still dangling on the cross!

While I do understand that this has become commonplace to the point of numbing normal, decent human sensibilities among the faithful, please try to understand how this might look to someone from the outside.

Elaborate, Opulent Lifestyles, Costumes, Rituals

Jesus lived a simple life and honored the poor. He washed the feet of his apostles, and touched and ministered to those considered unclean: the lepers, the prostitutes and the hated enemies from Samaria, the Samaritans.

In stark contrast to all that Jesus lived and died for, the hierarchy of the Catholic church lives and functions in elaborate cathedrals and chapels, with ornate artworks, bedecked in elaborate costumes, performing complex rituals completely unknown to Jesus, with no scriptural basis, and which are not only beyond anything Jesus actually practiced, but out of character with Jesus’ entire persona and ministry.

Oppression of Women; Male Domination; Celibate Priests

As noted earlier in this article, the early efforts to unify the many early sects of Christianity, with their competing doctrines, dogmas and even scriptures, came down to a political difference between those seeking to base their teachings on the words of Jesus, recorded by those who knew him best such as Mary Magdalene, Thomas — even Judas — with their egalitarian perspective of uplifting the poor, meek and disenfranchised (such as women) and the male-dominated followers of the Pauline teachings.

Of course, it is the Pauline authoritarian view that won out and, as a result, despite its complete lack of support in scripture, a tradition began of limiting the role of women. Women would not be allowed key roles in ecclesiastical leadership, and priests would not even be allowed to marry them, much less count them among their ranks.

Celibate priests: Forbidding women in Priesthood may be consistent with the traditions of the sexist culture out of which Judeo-Christian dogma arose, but forbidding priests to marry at a time when the church is desperate for more priests is not only a poor strategy for cultivating dynamic, vibrant leadership, but also a direct contradiction to scripture!

The same church that considers Peter to be the first pope disregards scriptural reference to the fact that the first Holy Father was … married! Matthew 8:14 makes reference to the mother of Peter’s wife.

Even Paul warned that forbidding marriage should be seen as a sign of apostasy from his true church [I Timothy 4:3].

The requirement of celibacy deters many vibrant, quality men, and many of those remaining, who are willing to at least live under the pretense of celibacy, are those who do not fit comfortably with the narrow range of traditional family options permitted by those who, admittedly, have the least experience with the subject.

A person who is attracted to those of the same gender is not welcomed into a loving, stable, appropriate family relationship and, shunned, may find refuge in the very clergy that has created a standard impossible for them to live up to. A condition of same-sex attraction, that might have afforded a perfectly normal, stable, family lifestyle if permitted to be enjoyed openly, is perverted by this tragic policy into something hidden, dirty, and which creates guilt and tensions that can build up until what could have been a happy, joyous expression of normal love and commitment, becomes manifest instead into inappropriate attempts at relationships.

Similarly, those who are attracted to children or other objects of affection that, because of the incapacity for valid consent or any semblance of equitable relationship, could never be appropriate, may also seek refuge in the dark shadowy corners of an institution where the normal, healthy relationships that should be encouraged are shunned.

Aside from being contrary to scripture, counterproductive toward the goals of expanding a vibrant, dynamic clergy, and putting clergy in a position where they are required to give counsel on areas of life they have no experience with, the policy promotes a tragic perversion of relationships in ways that are wholly unnecessary.

Many of the same issues that apply to other conservative denominations of Christianity, which often oppose Jesus more than follow him, even on many key points of ethics, morality, theology, doctrine, law and justice, also apply to the conservative social views of Catholics. For a more specific discussion of how conservative Christian (including Catholic) views on social issues such as abortion, contraception, premarital sex, women’s rights, same-sex equality, separation of church and state, general public policy perspectives and even the imaginary “war on Christmas,” I have discussed these in greater specific detail on the page at:
https://danizier.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/christianity-and-culture/

Contributing to Overpopulation and Disease While Ignoring It’s Consequences

While hard-working Catholic immigrants from Ireland (including some of my ancestors), Poland, Philippines and Latin America, have contributed to economic and cultural richness of this country working in conjunction with the Protestant, Jewish and other assorted contributors to our multi-cultural admixture. However, I also note that if you look at the modern nations of the world that have grown out of the colonies established by Catholic Spain (Latin America, Philippines) you will find that the hierarchical power structures, forbidding of population control, and concentration of wealth in the hands of the Spanish conquerors and their descendants and the virtual enslavement of the indigenous populations, has resulted in a legacy of these nations being among the most impoverished of any in the world, especially in comparison with the former colonies of Protestant English, Dutch or German colonizers.

Opposition to abortion, but especially birth control (Latin America, Philippines and other predominantly Catholic countries are among poorest and most backward in world) is an example of how Catholicism has not blessed the existences of the “least of these,” but rather has magnified the suffering of god’s beloved poor.

Forbidding even the use of condoms to prevent AIDS while also doing very little to constructively address the issue further exemplifies the contempt for the real needs of the poorest of the poor, while doing too little too late to react to the symptoms of poverty and disease that are the direct results of Catholic institutional policies.

Looking Ahead

It is possible that the elevation of Cardinal Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina to become Pope Francis, the first ever Jesuit to attain the papacy, that there might be reason to hold some optimism for future limited reforms, especially in the areas of social and economic issues and a turning back from some of the opulence and excesses towards a simpler, more humble papacy.

However, Francis’ past writings and statements do not suggest any reason for optimism in matters of equal rights for women or gays/lesbians, or for reforms such as softening the rigid adherence to a celibate clergy, or easing the harsh demands for increased procreation and the poverty it breeds. But when one considers the realistic range of choices for a successor to Pope Benedict, who was one of the most corrupt pontiffs in centuries and the chief architect of the official policy of protecting and harboring child rapists, and that so many of the voting cardinals had been appointed by him, there were certainly none that were less conservative on social issues, and none that were more liberal on issues of social and economic justice. The elevation of Pope Francis certainly does not dissolve all the issues of the Catholic church, but surely it is a refreshing breath of fresh air and may represent a small step towards much-needed reform.

Conclusions

To restate, it is important to understand that these criticisms are offered by way of rational discussion as to the theological claims of the Catholic Church to be God’s ordained and established institution on Earth.

This litany of failings is not meant to disparage sincere, faithful believers, or to undermine the many programs by which the Church does do much good in the world. It is also not intended to lose sight of the fact that any large institution with thousands of years of history will have had its dark chapters and shady characters, but that is the point: it is the best effort of sincere but fallible mortals, and not something instituted by an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving inerrant or infallible deity.

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Pope Benedict on his gilded throne

Pope Benedict on his gilded throne

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About Danizier

Be wise. Be wild. Care for others. Love your neighbor as yourself. The mysteries of the universe are not beyond your grasp.

Posted on April 22, 2011, in Theology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Danizier, I think you’ve covered pretty well the reasons why protestants and skeptics don’t like the catholic church. But did you know that many Catholics don’t like the “Catholic” church either? This is the position of the so called sedevacantists, who say that Vatican II was invalid and that the church is now not “authentically” catholic (those interested are encouraged to check out the all monks website). Websites like these say in order to be saved, you can’t belong to any religion other than Christianity, you can’t belong to any church other than the catholic church, and you can’t belong to the counterfeit “Catholic” church either. So I guess that means only 100 people living today would be saved. Weird, huh?

  2. Dear Mr. Danizier –

    Your protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, your writing is only superficially civil, or “respectful”. In fact, your writings about the Catholic Church, are angry, snide, sarcastic, cynical, and hostile in the extreme. For someone who claims to let the facts speak for themselves, you come across with a very clear agenda, which seems to have far less to do with thoughtful understanding, but is far and away most concerned with iconoclasm, ax grinding and bomb throwing. Nobody can stand apart from their own beliefs and approach issues cleanly and objectively as “tabula rasa”, and you do nothing to disprove that.
    Please read Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, and try to resist the impulse to write a 10,000 word rebuttal…take the energy you would use to work your mouth and pen, and redirect that to a softening of your heart, and a deepening of your wisdom.

    • Eric — I make no pretense of respect for the Catholic church, though I do acknowledge, including in recent updates over the past year or so, the improved demeanor and direction brought by Pope Francis.

      I cited numerous specific examples of special problems of the Catholic church in its origins, history and present policies. You did not cite one instance in which you demonstrated an inaccurate fact. As long as you engage in personal insults directed at me individually, without citing one single instance in which you claim I have gotten my facts wrong, I can live with that.

      As for your reference to C.S. Lewis, he is a writer of children’s fantasies such as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. His work Mere Christianity pretends to be serious, but is just as much a fantasy — for adults. I have read it, discussed it and, in comments on several other threads on my page, have referred to it. It is a book. When someone makes a general referral to look something up or to read a book, without anything more specific than that, it is obvious they are grasping at straws, sending us on wild goose chases and expecting us to find something they apparently couldn’t.

      I am not here to offer a discussion of other books. If you have a specific point that you found Lewis’ book that you wish to refer to, I am willing to entertain it on whichever of my pages it is most germane to, but I am not going to consider general, non-specific wild goose chases.

  3. And I forgot to mention the inquisition and the crusades. There were 2500 people killed during the inquisition. Not something to be proud of but not mass genocide as you claim. And the Crusades were started to protect christians in the Holy land. A land that was stolen by the Muslims. The VAST majority of battles took place on Christian land. These were not wars to convert Muslims. for the most part they were wars to stem Muslim aggression. Don’t forget about the Moors in Spain or the aggression by the Muslims in Hungary in the 14th century. Without the Pope rallying Europe at this time we would all be reading the Koran right now. Muslims are batshit crazy. Nothing has changed in 1400 years. We are still fighting them for the same reasons today as we were then. No matter how thick the revisionism. And just to note I know all about the cruelty inflicted by Christians (mainly on other Christians) during the crusades. But really in life one must seek the truth no matter where it leads. And everything must be understood for the period of time it took place in. It’s easy and exciting to get worked up about this Catholic injustice and that Catholic injustice but the truth is usually much more boring.

    • Hugh — the Muslims of the 1400’s were not the Muslims of today.
      The Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam that rules Saudi Arabia today, and with which extremist groups such as Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate, is barely 300 years old.

      In the time of the 1400’s, Islam was progressive. It was those Muslims who preserved the science of the Greeks when Catholic domination gave us the Dark Ages, and who gave us mathematical concepts such as ARABIC numerals (to replace cumbersome Roman numerals), a concept of zero, and algebra.

      I am not defending Islam. I do not subscribe to any of the Abrahamic superstitions, myths or legends, or those of anyone else. I have read the Qur’an (Koran), as I have the Bible, Book of Mormon, and significant portions of Buddhist and Hindu texts (which are many times the size of all Judeo-Christian-Islamic Abrahamic legends), and find much good in all, but no absolute or universal truth in any.

      My site on Bible contradictions and flaws also includes a link to a site prepared by a recovering Muslim to hundreds of contradictions within the Qur’an.

      Today, the vast majority of Christians are peaceful, but a handful of extremists who wear white hoods and burn crosses, bomb women’s clinics and shoot women’s doctors presented view of Christianity. In like vein, I have numerous Muslim friends, and have corresponded with countless others. As I said, I have read the Qur’an. While I disagree with the religious views, and can argue those objections based on fact, which many Muslims have appreciated, I also recognize that those who strap bombs to children or fly planes into buildings are a teensy, fractional minority that are loudly condemned by the vast majority of moderate Muslims. (And when some Christians dispute the ferocity of the moderate mainstream majority that have condemned extremism, I note that they obviously are not listening, as the evidence is readily available.

      I do not expect imperfect humans to implement perfectly the will of a perfect deity.
      I do, however, expect that a deity who is omniscient (all knowing) and all powerful (omnipotent) would not allow the institution established by His Son (who is really himself, who he sacrificed to himself to pay a ransom to a devil to make other people’s sins disappear) to degenerate from a humble teaching of simple, universal compassion, into an ornate, opulent perversion of everything Jesus taught.

      • For the sake of simplicity I will respond to both posts here.

        I come from a Catholic perspective but my goal is not to defend it, just to make sure, when I can, that it is judged accurately.

        The Muslims were trying to kill or convert us for centuries and it seems like they are on the same path today. I don’t see any real difference. Wahhabism was a movement to return to the good old days of 1400 years ago. It is what the Taliban is based on. I wouldn’t call it a movement with new ideas, just a return to the old. Have you seen the political parades in Iran where death to America is chanted after every sentence? And have you seen the death to America art on the side of just about every government building? Hardly the act of just a small little percentage. The mascot where my children go to school is the Crusader. Where I went to high school the mascot was the Lancer. We are unapologetic about our heritage of defending our land and faith against Muslim aggression. Here is a page that catalogues Muslim atrocities prior to the first crusade when the Byzantine Emperor asked Europe for help:

        http://www.americanthinker.com/2005/11/the_truth_about_islamic_crusad.html

        As far as the extremists that wear white hoods I believe you are referring to the KKK which are protestant. It was founded as anti Catholic as well as anti-black. The 2 or 3 abortion doctors killed and the few clinics bombed are hardly representative of Christianity and absolutely not Catholicism. The real difference is this: When the Muslims are killing it is because their faith instructs them to do so. When Christians kill it is because they are going against their faith.

        And please don’t think I am trying to defend rapists. This is the problem of trying to discuss the truth of what happened in the church. And this is why so many Catholics refrain form discussing it because they don’t want to be seen as defending it. Quite the opposite. Many priests that are guilty of this abuse run free while good parishioners get stuck with the bill. So the crime is doubled. My point about the sexual abuse is that it was a departure of traditional Catholic doctrine that caused the problem, not an adherence to it. And I think I stand on solid logical ground in making this conclusion.

        Your statement “Catholicism completely tried to squelch all science.”:
        This is very easily debunked by simply going to the wikipedia page “Catholic Church and science.” It is an interesting statement coming from someone who speaks so eloquently on other subjects. Anti Catholic rhetoric is so rich in academia that beliefs like this are common, but couldn’t be further from the truth. Jesus had no stance on science so any objection to scientific discovery took place apart from Catholic doctrine. I ask you to read further on this subject.

        As far as infallibility goes, I am not schooled enough to comment. Even though I was raised Catholic. Which is telling. The pope never said anything we had to adhere to or go to hell. Not in 16 years of Catholic school. And I wear a crucifix. LOL.

        • Hugh — you are veering off the topic of this page and I am not going to allow a discussion of the merits of Catholic theology, history, morality and organizational character to turn into one of Muslim bashing.

          Even if your claims about Muslims were accurate (they are not, and citing links to articles written by conservative Muslim-bashers is hardly objective evidence”), all you are doing is saying that, hey, Catholics (whom you claim to be the “rock” on which the one true church of god is founded) aren’t so bad because, hey, the Muslims (for whom you accord no such stature) are even worse. Hardly a compelling argument in support of a claim that an institution steep in ornate opulence, ritual, pomp and ceremony is somehow the modern incarnation of the ministry of a humble builder, who joined with fishermen and sheep herders (at least some of whom, such as Peter, whom you claim to be the first Pope, we know to have been married according to Bible references cited in the article) and publicans and prostitutes to wander in simple garb nomadically around the countryside, crusading against the religious orthodoxy of their time, the Pharisees and Sadducees, who represent, more realistically, the role the Catholic Church has assumed.

          And I stand by my statements about the Catholic church and science. Catholicism has opposed and obstructed all advances in science, and has only grudgingly and very belatedly come to accept those advances, from the roundness of the world and its movement in the celestial orbs (ask Galileo about that to evolution and other advances) when they were dragged into it. Yes, I understand that Pope John Paul II acknowledged the injustice to Galileo, albeit tardy by a mere 500 years. Yes, I understand he also acknowledged that the adaptation of species through evolution does not contradict the possibility of having been directed by a divine overseer. Yes, I understand there are many great Catholic universities and places of learning that, today, do indeed promote science, but they have come to this point because they were dragged kicking and screaming to it. The same church that brought us the Dark Ages, when science was preserved by Muslims, can hardly claim that a belated turnaround erases the legacy of its tarnished claim to be led by “infallible” human representatives of an omniscient, omnipotent deity.

          This is the question you have to address: to explain how an institution that bears essentially zero resemblance to the ministry of its nominal founder can claim to be the modern repository of that ministry.

          As to your allegations regurgitating inaccurate and prejudicial attacks on Islam, you seem to buy into the common misperception of Islam as some kind of consistent monolith. As with Christianity itself, there are many strains and factions within Islam. There are two main divisions, the Sunni and Shiite, and within both of those there are multiple sects and factions, some progressive and moderate, and others that are radical, extreme and even violent. Yes, I understand that there are passages of the Qur’an, which I have actually read, that can be taken out of context to make claims promoting violence or forced conversion, and there are passages that actually do promote atrocities. But as I note in my Bible article, there are far more such verses in the Bible, and far less ambiguous in context and far more vehement in the violence they command, which have been used to justify witch killings, Crusades, Inquisitions, slavery and the like. All Bible-based. All supported by scripture.

          The reality is that, in today’s world, the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful, moderate and would prefer to live modern lifestyles, and they no more bow to the harsher rhetoric (or interpretations of it) than do modern Christians who eschew the exhortations to violence, slavery and oppression in the Bible. Today, in many Muslim countries, the divisions are between secular Muslims and devout Muslims. They even argue over the “1,001 Arabian Nights,” repositories of ancient Arabic literature that are often quite bawdy, but which they can hardly blame on decadent Western corruption. The ruling power in Saudi Arabia is Wahhabi, an extreme faction that has only been in existence for 300 years.

          Even in Iran, prior to the takeover by the Ayatollahs in 1979, close to a hundred percent of the population under Shah Reza Palavi were Shiite Muslims. Yet they dressed in modern clothing, women worked in offices and attended advanced universities and, as one Newsweek writer put it, there were more Muslim women in bikinis than burqas at beaches on the Caspian Sea to the North or Persian Gulf to the South.

          Within a couple of years, women were made to cover up, education and employment and even mobility were restricted, and the look of the crowds was quite different. Did they all suddenly change their religion? No! They were Shiite Muslims before the revolution, and they were Shiite Muslims after the revolution. What changed was the removal of a secular government (brutal, yes, tyrannical, yes, but secular) with a religious, theocratic government. Just as has always happened when Christian churches have wielded political power, Iran entered into its own Dark Ages.

          Again, this discussion is about Catholicism. It is not about Islam. If you wish to support a claim that the Catholic church, in all its ornate opulent ritual is the modern manifestation of Jesus’ humble ministry among the poor, make that case, but don’t just assert, with faulty factual claims, that someone else is even worse so you’re not really all that bad after all.

  4. It is a matter of debate on whether or not an institution created by God and then run by men must have no sin in it’s history in order to verify that it was indeed ordained by God. I don’t agree with that and I can’t imagine there could be any explanation offered by you that would convince me. In fact, in light of free will, you would have to express the exact opposite opinion.

    There has been an AMAZING amount of disinformation of the Catholic Church in a world where the information is controlled primarily by non-Catholics. I’m not denying the many failings of the church and I don’t want to make this a long post but I think many things you write about in this article are wrong. First about the biggest story of the day in regards to the church. The failing of the church to protect POST- pubescent boys from gay priests. This story is continually referred to as pedophilia when that was not the case. The overwhelming majority were over 12 years of age. Why does it matter? Because this abuse only started after the Catholic Church gave into liberal groups (within the church and without) to let homosexual men become priests. Before Vatican II they were not allowed to. What followed was the mass migration of gay men into the priesthood. Nowadays I think we can safely say it has the reputation of being a gay occupation. Don’t get me wrong, I am not gay bashing. If we let straight priests take our daughters on camping trips and overnight stays we would be asking for trouble. So it was with gay priests taking young boys on these trips. Homosexuality became so entrenched in the priesthood that overtime these men rose to high positions in the church and then proceeded to cover up these abuses. It’s about time the church admitted that it made a mistake and that traditional Catholic doctrine was correct.

    The second biggest story of the 20th century is how the pope’s inaction led to millions of deaths in Europe during WW2. This is being challenged by Rabbi David G. Dalin in his book, The Myth of Hitler’s Pope. It’s a case of, tell a lie big enough…
    http://catholiceducation.org/articles/facts/fm0020.html

    And then there is the assertion that the Catholic Church not promoting abortion and birth control is leading to misery in the 3rd world. As if these countries were much better off before the Catholic missionaries turned up on their doorstep. It makes ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE! Think about it. The Catholic Church doesn’t want these people to have premarital sex either. So you can’t have it both ways. If these people listened to the Catholic Church there would be no aids. A search of this issue quickly turns up that in the countries that are the most Catholic have the least cases of aids and sexually transmitted diseases. And every form of birth control has dangerous side effects. The Catholic Church is not needed in the distribution of condoms. Literally millions of condoms are sent to Africa each year. The children use them for water balloons and build play houses with them. The Catholic Church is NOT recommending to these people that they not use these condoms. They just don’t provide them and their official policy is natural family planning. So you can’t say that the Africans ignore everything the Catholic Church says and then magically start to obey the church when it comes to condoms. I think it is only common sense that it is the other way around. The condom is usually the FIRST rule that members of the Catholic Church break, not the last.

    Science:
    The Catholic Church led the way in science throughout the past 1000 years. They invented the University system in Europe and proceeded to invent every type of modern science. The fact that a bunch of old idiots that occupied the Papacy at certain times held onto the pre-Christian Greco-Roman heliocentric universal model and tortured great minds that didn’t see it their way was extremely unfortunate and a permanent black eye on the Church. There was no Catholic doctrine that I am aware of that said the earth was the center of the universe. Therefore these men did not go against Catholicism with their theories. I can’t defend the torture and murders that took place and I won’t try. But it was not done due to Catholic doctrine. Correct me if I am wrong.

    I am not saying that the Catholic church is without sin. There must have been billions of Catholics in the past 2000 years. Many things you point out in this article are correct. In fact Mary herself in her apparitions (if you believe them) of the past 200 years says many of the same things. The reason why the Vatican has been covering up many of these messages is because they are believed to be very critical of the Vatican. The Catholic Church is in ruins. And it happened from within, not without. Over 50% of Catholics in the US voted for Barak Obama, a man who is set on destroying the church and everything it stands for.

    So in closing you are right that there are “special problems” for Catholics. The biggest problem is disinformation.

    • Hugh — I did not claim that an institution created by God and then run by humans should be 100% without sin. In fact, if you see my commentary on blood atonement, you will see that I have little regard for the whole concept of sin.

      That said, I think you go way too far in trying to defend the rape of underage children.
      A child may be post-pubescent (and, using Catholic institutional figures, you overestimate the extent of those falling in this category) but still below the age of consent for all kinds of things, including sexual interactions and, as with heterosexual statutory rape unrelated to domination and control by authority figures over those who are powerless, still results in charges of rape owing to the lack of capacity for valid consent.

      With regard to your defense of Catholicism and science, I completely disagree.

      Catholicism completely tried to squelch all science.
      For example, the idea that the world was round was known to educated people since the (non-Catholic, non-Hebrew, non-Christian) Greek mathematician Eratosthenes computed the roundness and even the precise circumference of the earth more than 200 years before Jesus was even born.

      All the heads of Europe knew that. Every educated person knew that.
      But virtually 100% of everyone else believed the world was flat, because Catholic superstitionists told them that. The only reason the heads of all nations except the nascent, newborn nation of Spain (unified under Ferdinand and Isabella in January 1492) turned down Columbus was not that he was wrong about the world being round (every educated person knew that), but Columbus rejected the established calculations of Eratosthenes, which we know today were deadly accurate and, using his own system, figured the world to be round, but about 1/3 the size of Eratosthenes. If an unknown continent had not existed where he calculated the Indies to be, he would have died at sea, with insufficient provisions to either continue to the real Indies or to return to Spain.

      When Catholicism ruled Europe, that period was known as the DARK AGES.

      The SCIENCE of the Greeks and Egyptians was not preserved by the Catholics.
      It was preserved by the MUSLIMS, prior to their tragic descent into modern religious conservatism, who not only preserved the science and math of the Greeks but, to that, added the concept of zero (with ARABIC numerals that supplanted awkward Roman numerals) and the math we now know as “Algebra” (“al gebra”), as well as many other concepts that we take for granted today.

      The Renaissance was a rebellion against religious superstition and an appeal to an Age of Reason.

      I don’t assert that imperfect humans implementing the will of a perfect deity must do so perfectly.
      I do assert that a perfect deity would not allow his chosen vessels, those deemed to be “infallible,” to degenerate into the Borgia popes of the era of Dante, Da Vinci and Columbus, or the sex scandals of today, or the Inquisitions, Crusades and Witch Burnings, or transforming the humble simplicity of Jesus into the ornate opulence of great papal palaces.

      Your new pope, Francis, the first Jesuit ever, and a humble disciple in the mold of the originals, is not perfect, and has a spotty record on women’s rights and equality for same-sex couples, but he is very different than previous popes and this breath of fresh air brings much optimism that some of the flaws of recent centuries may be constructively addressed.

      But the existence of centuries of such egregious crimes against humanity, coupled with other doctrinal flaws, hardly asserts support for claims of Catholic “infallibility” or moral consistency with the humble original teachings of Jesus.

  5. Hmm it appears like your website ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I submitted and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any suggestions for first-time blog writers? I’d genuinely appreciate it.

    • Sorry that your previous comment did not come through.
      While I do not publish all comments (and excessive length is a common reason for not displaying a comment), I did not see a previous comment from you, which suggests that either your outgoing mail delivery system or the host of this site (WordPress.com) somehow failed to deliver the previous submission.

      Thank you for your kind comments, but a reminder that those who write very long comments or those that are off topic (or, of course, those that just include name calling, gratuitous obscenities or personal attacks) will not be accepted. But, again, I reiterate that no previous submission was received by me from your posting screen name, e-mail or IP address.

  6. Almost all your logic (& language) is simple & straight to the point; but what can be normal about homosexuality?

    • Certainly same sex attraction is difficult to understand for those of us who do not feel it, just as having better control of fine motor movement in your left hand is difficult to understand for those of us who are right-handed.

      But the fact is that about 5-10% of the population is oriented to the same sex, and same sex attraction is common throughout most species of the animal kingdom.

      The real question is not “what is normal about” it, but what is “normal” about being the only species that is so uncomfortable with different orientations in other people?

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