T Nation

Kick 'em While They're Down

I’ve been reading the “Pope given last rites” thread, and it pissed me off. Evidently, there’s some folks in this forum who disagree with Catholicism, and I will be the first to say that I am one of them.


The time to rag on the Pope and his policies is not in a thread started to honor his memory. So instead, I started this one to bash Catholicism and its deleterious effect on the third world, etc., so the hooligans who are polluting the other thread can stop.

Maybe crickets will chirp in this thread, or maybe not. I’ll start:

I think Catholicism as an institution has grown more and more irrelevant to the modern world since the birth control movement several decades ago. JPII did not do much in his tenure to change this. Maybe he couldn’t change the dogma for some reason. Maybe he didn’t want to. Nevertheless, that is one area that I think many of us can agree that he fell short.

I also have a serious problem with the church’s disapproval of homosexuality. Turning a blind and intolerant eye to a large and maybe even growing segment of the population is not helping them. And I find the basis of their argument against it (leviticus) is flimsy as hell, while the message of acceptance and forgiveness found pretty much everywhere else in the bible should overpower the brief negative note they always fall back on as an excuse to keep what they feel is the status quo.

Perhaps the next Pope will be more progressive. I think that there is still time to save Catholicism as an institution. Make no mistake: it is starting to crumble under the weight of itself. The message we get here is that: “Eternal damnation awaits anyone who questions God’s infinite love.” How much sense does that make? What we have here is a church which claims to be the one true way of God, and yet they can’t even handle a crisis within their own ranks, let alone something as vast as the problems of the third world.

I think that a new Pope could possibly change that core message, and make it something more inclusive, more focused on what good it can do in the world. I think that a good start would be to change a few stances, like the one regarding birth control, and perhaps even accept homosexuals instead of trying to demonize them as people who are sick or perverted in some unnatural way.

Anybody care to chime in?

not that i care whether or not catholicism dissapears, i am in absoulte agreement. If there must be a pope, he should be modernising and reshaping.

However, it was my understanding that they are looking for older individuals as the recent 25 or so years is demed “too lon”. Maybe they want a higher turnover.

maybe this in fact will propogate such change?

also, was that last thread started to “honor” the pope. i thought it was an open thread. there was no topic title.

(Disclaimer: there may be things in this post that piss you off. Such is life. Before you accuse me of being closed minded and intolerant to others, please take a moment to be open minded and tolerant of my views as well.)

You know, I generally try to stay out of threads like this, and I am not catholic, but I have to chime in.

You use birth control as the reason that the church is irrelevant. For a couple thousand years, it was ok, but now there is birth control; we don’t need you any more?

Advocating abstinence is not a bad thing. Have a daughter. You’ll understand. I don’t subscribe to the double standard that is out there about boys and girls. “Yeah, son, go get em!” “No, honey, you should wait until married.” I don’t do that.

My kids are 13 and 10, and they have gotten most/portions of the “talk” already from my wife and me. They understand the point of birth control, but they also understand the quaint custom of waiting until marriage and our preferences on the situation. Nothing wrong with that.

Yes, AIDS is a BIG problem in the third world. Abstinence would cure that as well. Works EVERY time it is tried. But if you’re going to do it, use a condom.

As for homosexuality, that’s not my thing. I’m not really in to penises. Now I’m not going to use the same argument that you have already cited, mostly because I think that one is old and used up. I will say that whether you agree with it or now, it is still in the bible, and therefore carries the same weight as everything else.

My argument is different for homosexuality. I have heard that “it’s not about sex, it’s about love.” I call bullshit on this one. There is this friend of mine. I’ve known him for years. We’ve been through a lot together, and we’re very close. I would even go as far as to say that I love this guy. Does that make me gay? My wife would be pretty surprised about that. She and his wife get along very well. We all get together for dinner. Our kids play together.

Now…if I were to bang him in the ass that would be gay.

Sure, love plays a part in homosexuality, but for the most part, it’s about having sex with a person of the same gender as you.

The Catholic Church has done more for the third world in terms of aid and comfort than any other institution. Ever. Don’t discount all of the good things because of a few things that you don’t agree with. Have the courage of your convictions. Keep your views strong, and don’t change them. This is not closed mindedness; this is called belief. Faith. But don’t bash others for doing the same thing.

A progressive pope as you hope for will never be elected. The core message will not change. I hope not, at least. Question that which you don’t agree with. Work to change that which you think is wrong.

I’ve had my issues with the Catholic Church and the pope, but he had the courage of his convictions, and I can respect that. Even if I don’t agree with them all.


I was making comments about Catholicism in general, which probably was inappropriate. However, I hope I made clear that JP2 did a lot of good. Although I no longer consider myself Catholic, I nevertheless feel a sense of loss by his passing. I was 10 years when he was elected; he was “the Pope” for the majority of my life. On the one hand he was progressive, yet remained very conservative. I’ve been reading some short biographical info about him on the Internet and I’m not surprised by his conservative philosophy. By the time he was a teenager he had lost both of his parents, and the Church was all that he had. I’m sure that he embraced the Church and all its teachings because it embraced him.

There has been some positive news from the Church on the social issues. The American bishops published a letter some time back stating that while homosexuality was still a bad thing, that homosexuals should not be looked on with hate and parents should continue to love their homosexual children. This position seems almost radical after that Sponge Bob incident.

In order to honour someone, I think it is acceptable to criticise in a polite way - only writing nicetees, because someone has just died, is in my view a bit hypocritical; so I stand by my views, the valid sources I quoted and the respectful tone I chose, including my tribute to JPII as a man of conviction.

I saw a lot of heated debate in the other thread - and was especially incensed :wink: by that “burn” comment. For that, I have no respect.

As for the catholic church (I never was a member, although I used to be christian), I think it has manouevered itself into a dilemma: The catholics in the secular western/northern countries tend to be far more permissive in their views on a variety of moral topics, than in the developing countries. As strong as JPII was as a leader, he in my view concentrated too much on a restoration of the Vatican’s influence; this influence he used to pursue in my view worthy endeavours (opposing wars, fighting against social injustices), while on the other hand blocking any re-evaluation of moral issues.

As an organisation, the catholic church has tremendous power and wealth - and it supports a lot of laudable causes. I think that it is a necessary institution, and the good it does outweighs the damage it does as well. Hence, I think that the new pope should be as much a moral and social reformer, as well as an accomplished diplomat. A globalised world demands a strong international integration figure, especially as the international systems have lately been taking quite a (in some cases self-induced) bashing.

On the religious side - I don’t have any comment. As an outsider it is not for me to comment on issues of catholic dogma. I would greet a more relaxed and integrative (compassionate) approach towards homosexuality, sex education and contraception, as I think it would be addressing quite a few important issues.


wow, folloy. absitnance seems to be the universal cure all. i mean, its not like that would be in direct conflict with our instincts, would it?

I actually admire abstinance (i cant beleve people do it) and i am sure that you did. how did the masterbation go, coz if you have millions of people not having sex, then there better be a release somewhere.

and i have got to say that stating the bible “says it is so it is so” is not an increadibly strong argument. that is another issue, but creationism has been dealt a death blow and has been diproved by a weight of evidence, could it be that the bible is not totally correct, maybe?

Anyway that would be a hijack to start down that thread.

I wish i could sound as diplomatic as yourself.

Im a Catholic and I admit that I have a hard time adhering to all the positions of the Church. However, I don’t take my weaknesses and say that I’m right and that a 2000 year old institution is now wrong because they don’t see things my way.

In modern times, the Church is not a government, its a moral authority. The Pope told us what was right and what was wrong, not what “worked”. All Catholics are then free to do as we pleased. No one comes and locks you up because you think homosexuality is now OK or because you use birth control. So do what you want. Most Catholics believe we will have a final accounting to determine if we or the Pope was right. I know I will have plenty to answer for. But I won’t be able to say I wasn’t told better.

My opinion (from an atheist point of view):

The Catholic Church is no more or no less a “problem” than any form of tradional, organized religion. Every one of its problems – Hypocrisy, Dogma and Idolatry being the most visible ones – are typical of organized religion.

John Paul II was actually a pretty good pope – while the fact he was very consistent with the Catholic dogma (against sex as a source of pleasure in general, for example) except for that “quirk”, he stood firmly for Jesus’ teachings of love and tolerance. He tried as much as he could to be the imbodiment of love and tolerance. Yes, it’s hypocritical and contradictory with his message about sexuality, but that’s religion for you (not to be confused with faith!).

Do remember that the overwhelming majority of religious groups share the exact same dogmas about sexuality; so why point your finger at the Catholics? Because of their size? If you really look at it, you’ll see that the Catholic Chuch has lost its political influence quite dramaticlly – they screwed up so badly and so often in the Middle Age and early part of Renaissance that their influence went down the drain. Fortunately.

Honestly, I’d take a Catholic over an Fundamentalist, Zealot Christian or Muslim any day.

It’s a shame to many, but the Bible does not exist to please man and the current world order. Nor, does it exist to embrace sin or those who want to make excuses for their sin.

It does exist as the word of God. What does this mean in the permissive age that we live in? I think it means that you can go on sinning and our culture will not condemn it. In fact, in many ways they will applaud it. However, because man wonders from Gods word does not mean that God is supposed to change.

With that said, I am sure the new Pope will offer nothing special to those sinners who are unrepentant. I don’t see any provision in the Bible which states: “you can go on sinning as long as you are a good guy and are nice to most people.” No, in some ways it’s a real shame to those who have been scarred by the world and fail to reflect on their own shortcomings and sinful nature as stated in the Bible.

The Bible really is quite clear relative to sin in general and specific sins by name.

Lothario, it is not only Leviticus which speaks of Homosexuality as sin: First Corinthians 6:10

“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Those words are pretty clear. Oh I know you can do a “Bill Clinton” on it and question the meaning of “is.” You can tear apart just about any document you want. People do it with the United States Constitution all the time. Just as many love to play word games with the Bible. Matters not, you can crunch it, parse it, take it apart and put it back together, sin is still sin! And we are supposed to “flea from it” not embrace it.

I think if the Catholic Church is going to continue to be a force in world affairs (I know it was never a force to some) it must continue to hold the Bible as it’s most sacred document. And the various precepts taught in that book can’t be bent and twisted in order to fit a world which is increasingly losing way.

Pope John Paul was an outstanding Pope and whoever follows him will indeed have a large vacuum to fill. I wish the Church the best and certainly do not expect them to cave in to our modern permissive culture.

ZEB: Okay. My bad. Make that TWO references to homosexuality being bad. Meanwhile, the rest of the bible teaches tolerance, etc. You and I are famous around here for our battling viewpoints about this, and I’m not surprised at what you posted.

Anyway, this doesn’t change the fact that the church is growing more and more irrelevant. As the world changes, you must adapt just like any other organism, or you will die. Plain and simple, the Catholic religion is dying. I will restate that I think there is still time to save it, should a more progressive Pope step up to the plate and make some changes.

Who here doesn’t see that the policies of the Catholic church are failing the third world? Who cannot see that the vow of celibacy is at its very nature against what being a human with animal tendencies involves? Being a man of God should not make you stop being a man, for cryin’ out loud! The proof is in the pudding as we see more and more Catholic priests failing at their vows, and some of them committing horrible crimes against their altar boys. You don’t hear about pedophilic rabbis, do you? And it’s not because the Jewish church is better at covering up for their criminal clergy members.

Change or die, Catholic church.

I’m not a Catholic, and I’m kind of divided on Pope John Paul II’s legacy, he was a courageous and tireless voice for both his Church and for fundamental human rights, but his treatment of pedophile priests and his rigidity on birth control cloud his legacy. That being said, what I wanted to get across is this: I don’t think it’s a slam dunk case that Catholicism is “dying.” You’ve got to look outside the confines of an American Catholicism which is increasingly liberal and increasingly ignores papal dictates, and see the global picture. I’d love to see the numbers from someone who has the time to dig them up, but I would bet the Church is growing if anything. More importantly, the sects that are losing believers are the more liberal ones, the take-what-you-want, flavor-of-the-week brands of Christianity. I’m an Episcopalian, and that is a depressing example of what I’m talking about. Meanwhile, more traditional, conservative and evangelical sects are thriving, both in the U.S. and in places like China. The election of an old-line conservative as the new pontiff could, contrary to what the media tells you, help rejuvenate Catholicism, not kill it.

The worst part about the celibacy of Catholic priests is it isn’t even Biblically ordained, nor is it some ancient tradition stretching back to the earliest days of Christianity. Not by a long shot; it’s an eleventh century invention.

Gdollar: Okay, I found some numbers on the internet.


It looks like I was a bit hasty in saying that the church is, as you put it, “slam-dunk” dying, according to this. A 0.01% loss compared to other religions is hardly a sure case of death. Although their overall membership increased, the general world population grew faster, which gives them a percentage loss.

Still, I stand by my assertion that Catholicism is growing more and more irrelevant. (I guess I like that word)

Everyone else is growing and adapting to the changes in this world, and Catholicism is still holding onto their dogma – at any cost, it seems. While in a way I admire them for their tenacity, I would hope that they would somehow see the writing on the wall, and do something to ensure their continued acceptance as a powerful influence in the world.

For example, I wonder how many more Africans are going to have to die from AIDS before they figure out that the papal decrees are full of crap? Somebody has got to wake up one morning, and say: “Hey, waitaminute! This Catholic shit isn’t friggin’ working for us over here! Let’s do something else, because we’re DYING, FOR CRYIN’ OUT LOUD!!”

You see what I’m getting at here?

I agree with the view that the church is in fact not dying. The conservative course of JPII was indeed very successful in the developing countries.

I could envision some sort of a schism though - very much like the one threatening the anglican church - over issues like gay priests, and other moral questions. Essentially, there are two catholic churches, but the pontiff has to reside over both of them. I don’t think that we will go back to the middle ages, when there were up to three popes at the same time, but the unity of the church is indeed endangered. I would rather see an integrating pope than one who polarizes further.

As my view is mainly humanitarian and based on compassion, I would hope a more flexible pope will emerge, who will try to bridge those gaps, and take special consideration and support for the “sinners” out there, as they need help rather the sanctions.

Also, I would like to see the church get rid of some clearly later inventions like the celibate and the concept of infallability of the pope. They tend to undermine the credibility (and I don’t mean popularity) of the church, and are by no means based on the bible, and rather medieval. It is very much possible to modernise many aspects of the institution, without betraying it’s core beliefs. But as an old organisation, run by humans, it has acquired quite a lot of junk, it could get rid off, making it more humane and in essence more in accord with it’s own beliefs of compassion and love.


Good post, makkun. And really, it’s not like they haven’t given up some of their other medieval stuff. Take transubstantiation, for example. I think some people have this idea that if they change something, it’s destroyed. I tend to look at it as a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. Change = Good.

JP11 successful in developin countries, so is Phillip Morris.

Actually, lothario I think there are more than two references to homosexuality in the Bible, especially if you include Sodom and Gomora (there is an “h” in there somewhere).

The Bible (and the Church) is about loving the sinner and hating the sin. That, is tolerence!

Now how would it be if they loved the sin? See what I’m saying old buddy old pal?

How would it be based on the Bible if they embraced murder, roberry, or any other sin? They can’t do it, but they can show love through tolerence, which is loving the sinner.

Okay, as far as the Catholic Church goes, they can’t change sorry lothario. If they change to meet any particular modern standard (especially todays) they would cease to be based upon the Bible. Hence they would be worthless anyway. So…if you think they are going to fall (I disagree) then let them fall by clinging to the proper values.

Let’s get something straight right now! The following three words are spelled: “Gomorrah” “Robbery” and “Tolerance.”

I apologize for the poor spelling in the above post.