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Saturday, April 12, 2008

American Catholics and the Pope

In my life, my Catholic faith is a foundation to live by. It isn’t by any means binding in the full teachings of the church as an American. More or less it is a standard of faith in God and Jesus Christ and how I should proceed or act in my life. It isn’t an easy faith to follow when everyone else is playing by different rules or no moral rules at all. That by no means states that I’m a jerk and the confessional gives me a pass on forgiveness. What it means to me is that I treat people with respect no matter their lot and life and when I can I offer help to all in any way that I can, I do.

From my personal perspective, I look at any kindness I show as a pay it forward sort of event. When shown kindness and compassion it is hoped that the person receiving it pays it forward to another person in their life. I don’t see the results of my actions but then again I do. Many people have touched my life when I needed it most and it isn’t important to give names because the act of caring for someone else is self rewarding. You know when you are helping someone and that warm feeling in your belly is all that you need to know that you are doing good. That is the goal that Jesus would have wanted for me as a person to follow.

As a Catholic somewhat involved in the faith I know the many good deeds that the church does for the many in need. It isn’t broadcast on the news or spoken of in the halls of government. They just do what they do and many that have been helped have come back to give help to the poor and down and out. Doing something that helps another person no matter who they are is something that is addictive and it begets more action by those helped. Helping out someone that is down and out no matter what action you take is addictive. That is something that you never need to go to meeting for to overcome this particular addiction. That is somewhat the foundation of the Catholic faith when you really think about it.

In America, the Catholic faith has been under strong attack for many misgivings and rightfully so. Pedophile Priests are not something we as Catholic’s want in our flock. It is a shame on our church and something we as members bare on our shoulders every day. When the church does not correct it with undoubtedly sound results then it is a cross the members of the faithful have to face and carry.

It is pretty clear that the years of child molestation by very mentally sick Priest’s will carry forward for many years to come. I have no sympathy for the animals and bastards that harmed children and yet as a Catholic I am supposed to forgive. Forgiveness comes far more easily when the monster disguised as Priest’s are behind bars. That is what an American Catholic thinks in the nutshell. A crime against children is a crime against the future of families. How can you raise your family as Catholic if the crimes are passed over or ignored by the people that are the leaders of the church?

I wish Pope Benedict a fruitful trip to his flock in America but he should think deep into his heart and soul and ask for the forgiveness of his lost flock. The issue of pedophile priest’s will not go away over night or for a generation or two. Shame of his flock and our church goes deep into the American spirit and festers with the neglect of the church policing itself. Where they saw a wrong doing they looked the other way and that was wrong no matter how you look at it.

In the mean time, the faithful of the church will still give and give again and again. The work of serving the poor never ends and in that respect I am proud to be a Catholic. In the numerous cases of child abuse I am somewhat ashamed to be a Catholic and that is a dilemma that many American Catholic’s face.

Pope Benedict in his visit to America can change that ideology of American Catholic’s if he has the courage to do so.


Cross posted at To the Center

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Anonymous Alex said...

If the Pope (or other authorities within the Catholic Church) advocate for a particular public policy (e.g., abstinence-only sex education), is it acceptable to challenge them as 'we' would challenge any other public figure?

In my opinion, if the Pope advocates for a policy, which by definition require a public discourse (e.g., gay marriage should be illegal) - as he has in the past - the Pope becomes a public figure who not only can but ought to be challenged if his policies are viewed as unreasonable, etc. by those opposing them. He deserves no deference due to his status; the very idea of allowing an authority to advocate for a public policy without being able to challenge them is absurdity on its face.

In the past, your outrage over my labeling the Pope dishonest for claiming that he isn't attempting to affect public policy on the issue of "Evolution vs. I.D." (of course he was!) and silencing Catholic critic's who believe I.D. to be a non-science, would suggest that you believe that due to his position he is above my criticism.

Would I be right to say that you believe that the Pope should be immune to political criticism, even if he take's political positions and advocates for his position accordingly?

12:33 PM  
Blogger Papamoka said...

As a Catholic I have the right to follow my own sense of right and wrong in my faith. There isn't a Catholic out there including the Pope that does not have the ability or right in our faith to question the churches actions.

By all means Alex I question the Pope on many issues in my faith and in his politics. Just because he gets the ring does not make him God. In some cases people could call me not even a Catholic because I do not follow many of the strict guidelines of the faith where I believe differently.

Sidebar, is that your new vegan site I saw the other day?

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Alex said...

That is my girlfiends blog, I just write for it. She only recently started it so we are just getting going....Please join in the conversation.

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Infidel753 said...

I have no sympathy for the animals and bastards that harmed children and yet as a Catholic I am supposed to forgive.

Surely only the victim of the crime (in this case, the molestation victim[s])has the right to forgive the crime. I don't see how your own obligation or indeed right to forgive can extend beyond forgiving crimes committed against yourself.

4:34 PM  
Blogger Papamoka said...

As a member of the church I am my brothers keeper so to speak Infidel. Not that I personal am to blame but many Catholics do feel morally responsible for the crimes committed against children by priests over the years. In that respect I would beg the forgiveness of the victims for the church not dealing with this decades ago. We Catholics, we follow a Jewish carpenter and we all know about guilt very well.

5:02 PM  
Anonymous Infidel753 said...

Surely there are some crimes so vile that it would be presumptuous, even outrageous, to ask the victims to forgive -- and surely the sexual abuse of children must rank high among those crimes.

Those who raped children, and those who sheltered the abusers from secular justice, deserve no forgiveness.

Sorry to focus on one aspect of a much broader posting, but the scandal of priestly child abuse really throws the horror of Christian morality (exalting mercy and forgiveness over justice) into sharp relief.

11:12 PM  
Blogger Papamoka said...

Infidel you make a good point. I have no mercy for child molestors from any walk of life. I have no pitty or forgiveness in my heart for them which makes me an American Catholic. Ergo the wild west of religion and the Catholic faith.

When it comes to the person being abused, the spirit or soul needs to let go of the crimes against them in order to survive life itself. If you have ever followed the story of children molested that didn't find peace with the horror then many have died by their own hand as if they were the guilty one. These children abused did nothing wrong and yet their lives were destroyed.

Forgiveness, isn't always about the criminal as much as it is part of the human spirit and it's ability to carry on productively.

5:24 PM  
Anonymous Alex said...


You are clearly expressing empathy for the victims of these crimes. I wonder if your empathy extends to the innocent victims of the most widespread and systematic source of suffering, factory farming?

How could any moral system of any validity fail to extend sincere moral protection to ALL sentient beings capable of subjectively experiencing what you are doing to them, regardless of species, race, sex, religion, etc. Christianity clearly favors limiting unnecessary suffering, for humans; however, non-human animals also suffer, so how could Christianity not teach its followers to consider the limitless suffering of non-human animals that result from our species' exploitation of them?

It is unreasonable, and certainly illogical to empathize with the suffering of members of one species, while failing to recognize the suffering of another species. If a being can suffer, why not give that capacity to suffer some consideration?

Come join the conversation on my blog...

10:42 AM  
Anonymous Alex said...

"And when I think of the suffering of the creatures in our factory farms, laboratories, puppy mills, or of any animal neglected or mistreated by man, for me there is no more powerful question than to ask: "What would the Good Shepherd think of this?"

- Matthew Scully

6:59 PM  
Blogger Papamoka said...


I would appreciate it if you would take your campaign elsewhere.

Thank you

8:12 PM  
Anonymous Alex said...


Matt, in your post and throughout this comment thread, you are discussing Christian mercy, and empathy for the suffering experienced by another individual. Which begs the question: Why does your empathy only extend to this or that suffering individual; why ought the Pope confront the issue of this form of suffering that occurs at the hands of some of his followers, while ignoring all this other suffering that also occurs at the hands of his followers.

You can dismiss me if you would like, but please, think for just a moment about the logic and morality in placing a barrier between the harm that this individual suffers and the harm, that is similar in kind, that this other individual suffers.

What kind of system of morality can permit that? How "human" are you if you can't even confront this issue of suffering and question your own system of thought? When I hear Christians deny the validity of even considering the issue of non-human animal suffering, or when they say "please take your campaign elsewhere," I wonder how seriously they take morality and equality, really?

Perhaps the Pope should be digging a little deeper than merely talking about a pedophile.

Mathew Scully also said, "When a man's love of finery clouds his moral judgment, that is vanity. When he lets his demanding palate make his moral choices, that is gluttony. When he ascribes the divine will to his own whims, that is pride. And when he gets angry at being reminded of animal suffering that his own daily choices might help avoid, that is moral cowardice."

...those are all sins, Matt. You should think about it; don't just push me aside because I am a minority.

10:24 AM  
Blogger Papamoka said...

Alex you need to look at your own life. You argue my points on religion because you have none. This is America and 85% of us believe in God! Get over it! I will never see your side and you will never see mine. It is what it is and that is the end of it.

As for the vegan stuff, I wish you luck with that and hope you save the world. Just don't do it here on my site!

Please don't come back.

5:27 PM  
Anonymous Alex said...

My last point, of course (since I have been banned from having a discourse on a public blog about public things?).

If you believe in God, or if you are a member of the Christian faith, you "will never see my side of it," meaning you will never see all suffering as bad - just the suffering of your in-group. Interesting, but moral?

I do see you side of it, Matt: suffering is bad, I doubt you would disagree with that, I simply take this view to its logical ethical conclusion. Yes, suffering is exceptions if the group that suffers happens to not be my in-group. That, of course, is a form of racism, and your inability to ever see my side of it is hardly a defense. Right?

Why are so upset, anyway? Is it discomfort with your own actions, Matt..This is generally the reason for one's refusal to even have a discussion about this issue. Perhaps "moral cowardice" as Mr. Scully argued?

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Alex said...

The article -- A Papal Mercy — How the Vatican views animals, and why Christians should care -- talks about the Pope's views, the Church's overall silence about—and complicity in—the very evils condemned by Pope Benedict, and the Christian basis for kindness and compassion for animals. It starts as follows:

"As 41,000 devout Catholics crowd the new Washington Nationals Stadium this morning for a Holy Mass led by Pope Benedict XVI, animal protection is not likely to be on their minds. Amid the great questions of war, justice, and life, animals might also appear a humble concern for the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. But the Pope himself has suggested that the issue of animal protection is far from irrelevant to the Catholic faith.

When a German journalist put the issue to the then Cardinal Ratzinger in 2002, he received a surprising answer. The Pontiff-to-be called the issue “very serious,” detailing his theological belief that animals are God’s creatures, deserving of merciful treatment by man.

Ratzinger specifically attacked the practice of factory farming, which affects 10 billion animals in America each year. “Certainly, a sort of industrial use of creatures, so that geese are fed in such a way as to produce as large a liver as possible, or hens live so packed together that they become just caricatures of birds, this degrading of living creatures to a commodity seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible,” he said.

12:26 PM  

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