Pope Francis

130313-pope-francis-vmed-4p.photoblog600I promised when LP was revived that I would write a post on the crisis in the Catholic Church. I’d intended to do that during the Conclave, but like everyone else, I am surprised that the election of the new Pope has been so quick.

It was with joy that I woke this morning to hear that Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio had been elected Pope, and had taken the name Francis.

Francis is the first Jesuit and the first Latin American to be Pope.

The Jesuit founder, St Ignatius of Loyola, didn’t want any of the order’s priests to accept ecclesiastical office. Jesuits seek God in all things, centre their lives on Christ, and embrace communal poverty and an ethic of service. They’re also distinguished, as an order, for intellectual attainment, and for translating the faith through inculturation, so that communities and cultures can make it their own.

In history, 17th and 18th century controversies over the Chinese Rites signified the opposition of the Vatican to the Jesuit desire to recognise truth in Chinese views of the divine, and today, Jesuits like Raimon Pannikar have faced questioning over openness to Hindu expressions of religiosity. One of the greatest Jesuits of the twentieth century, and I think a saint, the scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, made it his life’s work to reconcile evolution and faith in a vision of the enchantment of the universe and the reconciliation of all consciousness in the Noosphere.

So, Francis will bring to the Papacy a rich heritage of openness, of willingness to walk alongside, of reflection and action in the world.

Joined to these Jesuit traditions will be the inspiration many are taking from the Pope’s embrace of St Francis of Assisi – a champion of the poor, a lover of all creatures, a man formed and marked by deep humility and sincerity. The choice of a papal name is always programmatic. As is the first appearance of the new Successor of St Peter. And in this case, Francis, who eschewed the trappings of wealth and power in Buenos Aires, catching buses, cooking for himself, dressing as a simple priest, embodied that spirit.

Francis was the runner up to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in the 2005 Conclave, seen by observers such as the authoritative journalist John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter, as the candidate of moderates and progressives.

This is not to say that Francis will depart from his predecessors on issues such as the termination of pregnancy and same sex marriage. Such is the hegemony of these views that any heterodoxy on ‘social questions’ would preclude elevation to the Cardinalate.

But it is to say that Francis will sweep the Vatican temple of the abuses, dysfunction and power craziness that afflict the Roman Institutions. His rejection of the sacralisation of the clergy, his openness to all – these are good signs.

As a Latin American, Francis has taken a strong stand on economic justice. Latin American conferences of Bishops have often been characterised by rifts over the stance of the Church towards authoritarian regimes and over liberation theology. Bergoglio is not as radical as his Jesuit confrere Jon Sobrino, but he has left no room for any doubt of his opposition to oppressive economic and political structures nurtured by capitalism. So much so that, as John Allen has reported, fellow clerics sought to smear him through a whispering campaign in 2005, alleging complicity in horrors of the Argentinian dictatorship. Sadly, some right wing Catholics will stoop to anything.

As a Catholic, in welcoming Pope Francis, I pray that he will end the evil of sexual abuse and cleanse and purify the church, that he will be a listener and sufferer with his people, and that he will embody the Christ like traits of his namesake, St Francis.

Elsewhere: The two must reads on Francis are John Allen’s profile and this post from An Iconographer’s Notebook. This report of the responses of young progressive Catholics is also interesting.

Update: This post has been re-published in Crikey today.


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292 responses to “Pope Francis”

  1. patrickg

    Mark do you know anything of his position on homosexuality? I know that the Latin American Church – and Latin America more broadly – has had a history of very strong homophobia.

  2. Chris

    Francis was the runner up to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in the 2005 Conclave, seen by observers such as the authoritative journalist John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter, as the candidate of moderates and progressives.

    I thought everyone was sworn to secrecy about what happens in the Conclave. So how do they know he was the runner up?

  3. Liz

    Oh dear. I’m glad you’re happy, Mark. But, to me it’s just another old man who’s going to uphold misogyny and homophobia. Same dreary old stuff.

    Imagine a Pope who didn’t hate women and who upheld women’s rights to the autonomy of our bodies. As you said in your post, absolutely impossible.

  4. Sara

    I think it is a good sign that the power-hungry have elected this man, that he has chosen the name he has, and look forward to all cardinals being issued with bus passes and a small vegetable plot. Tweet tweet.

  5. Ronson Dalby

    This is not correcting anything in your post, Mark. Just for interest’s sake:

    “Vatican: It’s Pope Francis, not Pope Francis I”


  6. Alison

    He has a lot to do.

  7. Ronson Dalby

    Hope Francis is not superstitious:

    “pope elected on the 13/3/13”

  8. Liz

    And it also seems that he has a few questions to answer when it comes to his involvement in Argentina’s Dirty War. But, let’s not talk about the war.


    And no Mark. I think when a man insists that women can’t have abortions, can’t use contraception, shouldn’t have control over their fertility, aren’t equal to men; then ‘hate’ is a fair descriptor.

  9. Ronson Dalby

    My post @12

    Sorry … one to those things you post in a bloodrush then wish there was a delete button.

    (Now is this post #13 …)

  10. Antonio

    Mark, I have to pull you up on this: “In history, 17th and 18th century controversies over the Chinese Rites signified the opposition of the Vatican to the Jesuit desire to recognise truth in Chinese views of the divine.”

    Recent research looking into the accounts of Fr Joao Rodrigues etc have shown this view to be not quite correct. The Vatican at the time refuted the (largely inaccurate and historically fanciful) accounts of Chinese religion produced by Fr Matteo Ricci and others in the Jesuit mainstream in favour of the earlier and more reliable accounts by Fr Rodrigues. Urs App’s recent book “The Birth of Orientalism” covers this in detail in the Introduction and Chapter 4. In effect, the Vatican doubted the scholarship as well as the theology of the Jesuits in the East.

  11. Casey

    In Italy, Ronson, 13 is a lucky number.

  12. Liz

    Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they Mark? Other writers disagree. Anyway, I think I should just dip out of this discussion, because these ghastly men just make me angry and I’ll end up posting Tim Minchin’s song about the motherfucking Pope.

  13. Peter Murphy

    Since I posted a “Dirty War” link in another thread, let me add another tidbit from The Guardian:

    A note of caution about a claim in Hugh O’Shaughnessy’s comment piece extracted below. We have not been able to ask Argentinian journalist Horacio Verbitsky about the allegation that Bergoglio was implicated in helping the Argentine navy hide political prisoners in what O’Shaughnessy described as “his holiday home in an island called El Silencio”. One of our reporters is examining the claims made by Verbitsky in his book. It appears that the island was owned by a senior Buenos Aires Catholic official, not Bergoglio, and visited by priests in the diocese. The Guardian has not seen any evidence linking Bergoglio to the hiding of prisoners on the island. We will publish a more detailed report as soon as possible.

  14. Sam

    So, Francis will bring to the Papacy a rich heritage of openness, of willingness to walk alongside, of reflection and action in the world.

    In other words, we can expect him to be frank.

  15. Casey

    For me, I sincerely hope and pray he breaks down the networks and hierarchies which have allowed the despicable crimes of the sexual abuse of children to happen and to continue. I hope he brings justice to the victims of that abuse and I hope this is the meaning of calling himself Francis, the most humble and radical of saints, friend to all living things.

  16. Tim Macknay

    Does he have the power to tell Pell to shut up already?

  17. Paul Norton

    He could do worse than dust off the teachings of his fellow Jesuit Francisco Suárez on the rights of indigenous people, the rights of citizens to overthrow oppressive governments, and the principles of “just war”.

  18. Sara

    I do think there should be an acknowledgement of the frailties and inequities of the church and many male-centred religions around respect for women and their bodies at all times; it almost goes without saying. Hauling back to the middle ground in crossing my fingers over this pope is about recognising the non-ritualistic or faith-based positive aspects of this institution and belief system – compassion for others and social justice for the poor – which are so bogged down in corrupt and self-seeking political systems outside of the church. This appointment appears to indicate that for all the outward showmanship, puffery and clanking of gold, simple values and simple people can prevail. A good lesson for certain other institutions. In other words, if we have to have a male leader of a male-centred religion that is unlikely to change anytime soon, we may as well have some other good flow from it.

  19. Casey

    Mark, Frank Brennan says it is a huge surprise that a Jesuit has been elected as Pope given many Cardinals are hostile to Jesuits. Although he is theologically conservative, he is right front and centre on social justice, he reports. He says it might be it a John 23rd Moment. Brennan does not know how reformist he can be with the Roman Curia, to reign it in, as he is untested. What is known is that in South America he held together the tensions between the liberation theology jesuits and the conservatives. What do you think it suggests of the Cardinals, that they voted in a Jesuit? The Jesuits really are rather shocked at this development.


  20. Aaron

    Hom hum… yet another bigot who says that gay marriage is a “destructive attack on God’s plan” and that gay adoption is “child abuse”.

  21. Liz

    Aaron, I’d ‘*like* your comment, if that were possible here.

  22. Casey

    Okay, but I’d love your view on it as I’d say the Cardinals must be pretty shaken up to elect a Jesuit!!! Frank has written on his status update Pope Francis I sj.

  23. Kim

    Casey and Sara – I agree.

    Aaron – I suggest you read the second link at the end of the post.

    This news brings me great joy.

  24. Liz

    Kim, I read the links. I’m not sure what you mean. The links make clear that he’s just as homophobic as his predecessors Washing the feet of people with AIDS just sounds like disgusting hypocrisy. Homophobia is why people die from AIDS. Why AIDS spreads. Why AIDS doesn’t get treated. You know that.

    He baptised a baby born out of wedlock! OMG! How progressive. Bet he still thinks abortion is evil.

    As for his social justice agenda, if the Catholic Church believed in social justice, they’d pay tax like everyone else, so their tax dollars could be used for social programs. Instead hey keep it for their own charities so that they can control how it’s used. They’re really just thieves and gangsters in fancy dress.

  25. Kim

    Very emotive language there Liz. That’s fine. I am happy to listen to your view with respect.

    I do wish though that people would apply the Enlightenment rubrics of reflection, self critique and discernment to the formation of a view.

    Descartes, doubt and all that.

  26. Cindel Towani

    [Moderator note: morphing your nym and other details to evade previous bans is a breach of the comments policy. Bye!]

  27. Liz

    I’m not screaming. I’m being accurate. I think the Catholic Church should pay taxes. Until they do, their commitment to social justice is, shall we say shallow. Saying that gay child adoption is child abuse is homophobic and bigoted. It’s an homophobic and misogynist institution. And those attitudes cause people to die. That’s undeniable. And that isn’t even starting to talk about child sexual abuse.

    I don’t know that it’s my job to change peoples’ minds. It’s obviously a matter of faith and people can make their own minds up. And Kim, I’m sorry, but the ’emotive’ comment is just a tone argument. And just a tad patronising. There’s nothing wrong with being angry. I could just easily argue that talking about feeling joyful is just emotional language.

  28. Kim

    Liz, I am not judging. Just observing. And yes I feel emotion too.

  29. faustusnotes

    Liz, people die of AIDS because it’s caused by an infectious disease that is extremely hard to stop, not because of homophobia, and many of the countries worst-affected by it are not at all Catholic; the group of people worst affected by it also are not homosexual. The Catholic church is responsible for many ills, but let’s not over-egg the pudding here.

    Mark, perhaps I’m over-interpreting your post but are you suggesting that the church’s “hate” of women and its homophobia will not change until institutional changes happen? i.e. that the church doesn’t need a social radical so much as it needs an institutional reformer? That makes sense to me, and makes me wonder just how deeply the previous pope was trapped in the child abuse scandals that the cardinals voted in someone with such a different perspective – have they seen the writing on the wall?

  30. Zane Trow

    Liz @ 35. yes indeed.

    It is very very difficult to see the pope as anything other than the CEO of a large and increasingly discredited corporation. A corporation like any other in fact, with the occasional good work done, mostly driven by good individuals caught in a maze of contradiction. There is no inherent goodness about a corporation originally established to exploit the weak and abuse and torture anyone who disagreed with it. A corporation with an entire ethos built on oppression and hate. A corporation that has covered up and hidden the heritage and active practice of abuse on the one hand and preached vicious prejudice and hate on the other…for centuries I would contend.

  31. paul burns

    On the kidnapped Jesuits during the reign of the generals in Argentina: A whole bunch of people opposing the generals were kidnapped at the same time. Francis I got the two Jesuits released. Everybody else who was kidnapped either ‘disappeared’ or were thrown out of helicopters.

    On this pope and AIDS: Fucking someone who has AIDS without a condom or, if you have AIDS, fucking someone without a condom, are the main causes of AIDS. Fucking is the main cause of AIDS. Francis I is already on record as saying that condom use by people who have AIDS is ‘permissible.’ So I reckon we can expect to see some changes there pretty quickly.
    Okay, its not everything, abortion, having gay sex and euthanizing yourself are still sins. And that’s not just because the Church is run by the whims of a bunch of aging eunuchs. Its in the New Testament which is Xianity’s foundational document. (That document’s theological validity etc is an entirely different debate.) So you can’t really expect them to ignore it.

  32. mindy

    But Paul Burns Christians of every stripe actively ignore choice bits of the Bible every day, so why do they get to cherrypick the bits they ignore and the bits they foist on the rest of us?

    This Pope may be more progressive in some areas, but while he is still against women having bodily integrity I’m with Liz on this one.

  33. paul burns

    Mindy @ 39,
    Since Francis I believes giving people – not just women – bodily integrity over matters like masturbation, contraception, abortion and euthanasia is tantamount to giving people permission to commit murder of one kind or another, its highly unlikely he’ll ever change his mind. This whole debate comes down to beliefs in the sanctity of life, not women or men having bodily integrity.

  34. Cindel Towani

    [Moderator note: morphing your nym and other details to evade previous bans is a breach of the comments policy. Bye!]

  35. Jacques de Molay

    I’d never heard of this guy before until today so thanks for the write up on his background Mark.

    He seems perhaps as progressive as someone getting the job could be so that’s something I think. Father Bob seems to be be alright with it so thats good enough for me.

  36. mindy

    But when two of those four things you mention Paul affect women vastly more than they affect men, I think you can still say he won’t be progressive and is actively denying women more than men.

  37. Sam

    Its in the New Testament which is Xianity’s foundational document.

    True, but it is capable of all sorts of interpretation. Any well-trained Jesuit would be able to persuasively argue that that NT not only permits, but encourages abortion, gay sex/marriage/adoption, etc — if they are so inclined to make the argument.

  38. paul burns

    No, mindy @ 43,
    I don’t agree. Since Origen I think in the second century C.E., or even Paul of Tarsus in the first century, what the Church actively denied everyone was sexuality – and turned a blind eye to most infringements, because you can’t really judge 2nd century Xtans on their po-faced Church Fathers. As they still do turn a blind eye – to the point that they blame the social/sexual revolution of the 1960s/70s for priest child molesters. As we all know they ignored the latter for years.
    I would hope Francis I would be progressive on social justice issues – I use that term I suppose in a Catholic sense, because the influence of feminism is probably considered purely a moral issue – ie how it affects behaviour related to sexuality, even at a tangential level. I don’t know really. The church might be more modern than I think.
    (Hope my sentences and meaning aren’t too convoluted, they tend to be so in a top of the head piece of writing. If so, apologies.)

  39. paul burns

    Sam @ 44,
    The Jesuits are slippery, but they ain’t that slippery. 🙂

  40. Kim

    I want to make a few more points, in general reply:

    (1) I can understand that people who have themselves felt harmed or observed others harmed or feel deeply can react with anger when the Church is discussed. As Catholics, we need to listen.

    (2) I always think that the view that the Church is a monolithic institution is fundamentally flawed, and one that draws heavily on a certain Protestant culture which has disseminated and secularised itself. While Francis may not hold the views we would like him to hold, that does not mean that he is *the same* as previous Popes. I think it highly likely that we will see movement on condoms and marriage for diocesan priests, for instance.

    (3) I don’t think the Biblical arguments regarding things like homosexuality are at all sound, and indeed, they’re usually rejected by Biblical Scholars, except fundamentalist ones. On issues such as contraception (and I am sure, masturbation!), very few would take any notice whatever of the official Vatican view … which may in any case change. The big step Benedict took is to take away the aura of the papacy. It’s now more of a human job which someone can step down from, and thus (among other things) there is more likelihood that things won’t be frozen in time out of fear of contradicting a predecessor. The pace may still not be to the liking of many, but there you have it.

    (4) If we talk about homophobia and misogyny, we need to be more explicit about what harm is caused. I would not disagree that the officially homophobic stance of the Church is harmful in and of itself because of the obvious effects it can have on the socialisation of individuals. I would love to see women priests (and the way to that is to desacralise and de-clericalise the institution of the ministerial priesthood). But I question whether the Church in toto is somehow hostile to women. Women make up most of its congregation, for a start.

    (5) I would hope that people would see that a Pope who, we very much desire, will do something to render justice to the victims of child sexual abuse is something we could agree we would like to see. Certainly, that is the call from a lot of victims’ groups. I can understand the wish that the Church just disappear, but it’s just that – a fantasy of wish fulfilment.

    (6) My wish is that folk might look for the good in this man. I am confident there is much to find, and that’s why I’m personally very pleased and joyous.

  41. Liz

    Kim, how can you say the Catholic Church isn’t hostile to women when it refuses women control over our own bodies? That’s just a basic human right the Church refuses. I know many Catholic women simply ignore the Church’s strictures against abortion and contraception. But, that doesn’t change the fact that the Church teaches that these things are wrong and sinful.

    Look at a Catholic country like Ireland where you can’t get contraception. What about the poor woman there who died from septicaemia because the Catholic hospital she was at refused to remove the foetus?

    What about the Catholics who line up at the abortion clinic in Wellington Parade in Melbourne abusing women, every day. And yes, they’re mainly Catholic protestors.

    I don’t think the Catholic Church is hostile to women. I think it treats us with utter hatred and contempt.

    And when you say the Church’s homophobia is harmful, you’re wrong. The Church’s homophobia contributes to the death of gay people. Internalised homophobia causes young gay people to kill themselves. And where does that self- hatred come from, at least in part?

    I think you minimise the harm the Church does to a huge degree.

  42. Kim

    Liz, I’m reluctant to continue this interchange for two reasons:

    (1) I think it’s off topic. The topic is not the Catholic Church but the specifics of the election of the new Pope. Others may wish to join in with reference to the OP, and polemics may discourage that;

    (2) From your past comments, I doubt there is anything I can say that will change your mind.

    But, yes, I have said that the Church’s homophobia is wrong. And in some instances it may have the evil result you point to. There are a lot of other social institutions that contribute to homophobia as well.

    It is now possible to access contraception in Ireland, as I understand it:


    Yes, the Church teaches things that are wrong and sinful. I, and many other Catholics, want that to change, and many work for that.

    I am always left wondering what it is you actually want us to do, or to happen.

  43. Liz

    You’re right that it’s probably the best idea not to continue with this exchange. As to what I think you should do. Seeing as you ask; walk away from the Church, as many others have done.

    But, one final thing. It’s not a case of the Church’s homophobia ‘may’ contribute to gay people killing themselves. I produced a doco for the Vic government a few years ago about young gay people who commit suicide. One of the key indicators for suicide was a Catholic faith. It’s absolutely toxic to young gay people to be told they’re sinful. The govt. didn’t like it much because Bracks is Catholic, but they couldn’t deny the research. As I said, I think you’re minimising the damage Catholicism causes.

  44. mindy

    Leaving behind personal feelings about religion etc, how much personal power to make changes will Pope Francis have? Can he compel the other Cardinals to give up their staff, cook their own dinners, sell off assets to help the poor?

    Does he have total control or does he still have to negotiate?

  45. mindy

    Any whispers about who was also in the running? I’m curious as to whether he was the middle ground between two extremes or he was the most popular of a handful of candidates.

  46. Jack Strocchi

    A wonderful post, written in the hopeful and charitable spirit of the man it features. Also, very good return to the crease by the skipper.

  47. paul burns

    Re the potential administrative shake up. Apparently when a pope dies (or resigns) all positions in the Curia are declared vacant. At least one commentator I’ve read (a little while ago now so I don’t have a link) said this was why Benedict resigned. Because it was the only way to clean out the Curia. If this is so, and it wasn’t because he was going blind, which is a much less Machiavellian reason, then it is interesting to speculate how much Benedict influenced cardinals before the Conclave to put in some-one who, it appears is at the very least going to be a reformer of church governance and possibly a lot more – viz: Francis I.

  48. stringy

    What is his record on covering for pedophile priests? Has he followed the usual stonewall policy and supported the offenders, or has he tried to support the victims?

  49. desipis

    True, but [the bible] is capable of all sorts of interpretation.

    I always thought a key part of Catholic theology was that authority over theological truth came from the Church. The bible is simply the founding document of the Church rather than independent authority. Running off with your own interpretations of the bible essentially makes you a protestant.

  50. paul burns

    As I understand it, stringy, he’s for expelling them from the priesthood. Permanently. I don’t know what his stance is re putting them into civil authorities for investigation and prosecution if the investigation establishes a prima facie [have I got the Latin right?] case.

  51. paul burns
  52. Lefty E

    From the perspective of a confirmed atheist, though one from a Catholic family and as one who spends a lot of time working in a Catholic country – frankly, imagining any Pope is going to be progressive on some of these issues is mistaking the label on the tin.

    The fact that he’s from the South is good, and apparently with a strong dose of social justice. Could’ve been worse is my take.

    I also think its interesting that he’s a Jesuit – the order banned (several times) from the Iberian colonies for getting in the way of forced indigenous labour. This may yet foster important reflections in Latin America, particulalrly in Guatemala, Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru, where there are large indigenous populations.

    More broadly, another small chapter in the decentring of Europe (& Neo-Europe) to the BRICs – which will surely prove the defining feature of the 21c in general – aside from complete environmental collapse that is!

  53. zorronsky

    How does his view that the church has become too secular sit with the Wests desire for more secularism throughout the World.

  54. Liz

    ‘One of the two tortured priests[said] he suspected Bergoglio had actually been directly involved in the torture’

    Via Jeff Sparrow on Twitter. Maybe this bloke’s hands aren’t quite as clean as we’re being told. It’s hard to be above the muck in a dirty war.


  55. paul burns

    A more balanced view on the Argentinian story?

    I know its TIME and TIME is the dreaded agent of US Imperialism and Coca-Cola everywhere, but its also renowned for its balanced journalism, no?

  56. paul burns

    Hadn’t read @ 73 before I posted last comment.
    If Esquival thinks Francis I wasn’t involved that’s good enough for me. He’s not a priest, he’s got no candle to carry and every reason to blame Francis if blame was deserved, since he was imprisoned tortured by the generals’ regime himself.

  57. Liz

    Paul, it’s really unsurprising that Bergoglio denies the claims, and that Time magazine supports that view. That article doesn’t address the claims in the article I posted. I’m not saying this bloke is guilty. But, I am kind of fascinated by the denial that he may not be completely squeaky clean.

    I also think the humble bragging going on about how he carries his own bags is funny. There’s something deeply ironic about boasting about humility.

  58. Deleted

    [Familiar old troll detected: Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.]

  59. Liz

    I don’t remember writing that Cindel Towani. I don’t trust Time magazine because it’s consistently one-sided in a right wing way. It’s commentary is frequently untrustworthy. What I’m saying is there are competing versions of what Bergoglio did or didn’t do at the time. That isn’t surprising. It’s a complex, messy history. People can read these competing versions of history and try to make sense of it themselves.

  60. Liz

    I wasn’t linking to a Guardian article, but an interview with the Argentinian journo Horacio Verbitski. Is he the unreliable source you’re referring to?

  61. Lefty E

    Well I hope he’s good, because according to this prophecy, he’s the last one! 🙂


  62. Liz

    Sure, Mark. Verbitski says his source is a document found in government archives, that show that Bergoglio gave the priests up. He also states that one of the tortured priests told him that he thought Bergoglio was one of his interrogators during his torture.

    Is Verbitski a reliable journo? I really don’t know enough about Argentinian politics to say.

  63. Liz

    Oh, I agree. It’s murky and there’s probably multiple versions of the truth.

  64. paul burns

    Re Malachy.
    There is a cardinal, a Hungarian I think, whose first name is Peter. He was one of the Papabili, but he wasn’t picked. 🙂

  65. paul burns

    re the Argentinian stuff,
    There’s one lot of people says he gave two young Jesuits up to the generals and did nothing to recover stolen children. There’s another lot of people say he rescued heaps of people, even giving away his passport to help one person escape across the border. They can’t both be right.
    Horacio Verbitski is a far left wing reputable investigative author and journalist, who was himself a leftist guerrilla who admits to executing his opponents. To some extent he sounds like an Argentinian John Pilger from the accounts of him I’ve read – all brief press accounts and Wikipedia – nothing really authoritative. But he does have an agenda, one I’d agree with, which is bringing out the truth of the years of the generals, including the role of the Church leaders in Argentina in those years. But I have to say the evidence against Francis he produces is scrappy, uncorroborated and possibly biased. Certainly not enough yet to make a sound historical judgement on.

  66. Liz

    Ok. Now, I’m officially furious. Look at this quote from the Pope. Is he Tony Abbott’s godfather? He campaigned against Christina Kirchner, because women are unfit for political office.

    I just find it deeply depressing that this loser fills progressives with joy because of his commitment to social justice. Plainly, for only half the population. But, apparently that’s okay because he carries his own bags. There’s no excuse for this misogyny in the 21st century. If he’s a progressive, imagine what the conservatives are like.


    “Women are naturally unfit for political office. Both the natural order and facts show us that the political being par excellence is male; the Scripture shows us that woman has always been the helper of man who thinks and does, but nothing more.” Cardinal Bergoglio 2007

  67. Liz

    Thanks for well researched info Paul. I agree it’s murky, as I’ve said. I’m just supplying a bit of credible counter argument to the view that Bergoglio had completely clean hands during the dirty war.

  68. GabrielleH

    This pope will make no difference to the community of St Mary’s in South Brisbane. It is too late for us and we have all been effectively excluded from the church. That community is comprised of people who have worked tirelessly for social justice and the community continues to fund and work on social justice areas. I can’t see the Brisbane archdiocese reinstating our priests ability to perform the sacraments or for that matter the church reinstating the archbishop of Toowoomba. Churches will continue to empty as the conservatives within the church resist any changes. It is too late to wait for changes to the role of women. They are rapidly running out of priests and running out of congregations. Take a look at the numbers of non Catholics in catholic schools. The church has nowhere to go on this path but to oblivion. I am sad but still very angry that the church helps no one but those in power.

  69. Zane Trow

    “Cardinal Bergoglio 2007” simply disgusting, vile, no excuses whatsoever. And thanks for some sanity Liz, because this thread is depressing.

    One welcomes back LP with excitement and gusto, I’ve missed it very much, only to find it has been a haven for twisted and weird individuals all along. Perhaps others knew, perhaps I am not so smart on the uptake eh?

    It certainly gives me pause…I have never been as active or as thought through as some here. I have tended to snipe and cheer from the sidelines and save longer comments for stuff I actually know about – art, music and sound, cultural industries – I am aware that foot often finds way to mouth.

    But this really seems to be such a horrible thread that I will have to consider carefully visiting ever again. Hey, like you care, who the hell am I anyway?

    Think hard please. And to echo Liz, if you mean all the other stuff you say and have said, walk away and start living. No other option is possible for you.

    I am with Prof. Foucault: Goodness is not something you feel or discover, it is something you do. One can’t claim goodness on the one hand and align oneself with hatred and prejudice on the other IMHO.

    And at the risk of being seen as overly dramatic:

    I have recently spent three years working alongside Forgotten Australians, and others, who have fallen into the depths of despair through no fault of their own, but through the fault of some man with a white collar and a dead bloke stuck to tree on a chain round his neck. I always knew religion of all kinds was clearly insane, but recently I have rubbed up against those touched irreparably by that insanity.

    Someone brought a newsletter from his time under the care of this obscenity known as the Roman Catholic Church. The newsletter was full of photos of pre-pubescent boys doing healthy pursuits …sport and the like…he was in it of course himself. His research has been ongoing and impeccable. He was able to tell us, that he in his late 30s, is the only one left alive. All others represented have killed themselves.

    There was silence for a good long while.

    So for me, I am sorry to say, all else spoken of will be tainted by this thread. It makes a mockery of …..just about everything I thought this blog stood for.

  70. GabrielleH

    Peter has never actually said that he had ceased to believe in Jesus Christ. He always approaches theological questions with an open spirit. He is ready to discuss and canvas all issues concerning church history and theological history. What he wants to do is to have a dialogue about the divinity of Jesus. He grounds that discussion in history. My understanding of Peter’s position is that he is always open to discuss any theological question. Compared to many historians of Christianity, Peter’s statements are quite commonplace. Perhaps his fault is that he is also always trusting of those who he is in conversation with. Often people misunderstand him. Often also they misrepresent his intentions.

  71. Sara

    Ye gods. It seems the issue here is not so much belief as the social power attached to belief. From a cursory glance at the Courier Mail this morning (yes, I know, all that is required), I would say the Pope’s anti-vestment tendencies are being viewed more with concern by the hierarchy than bragging, which is both a sign that institutional power and conformity is out of control and that it may, by pricking the balloon, be able to be reeled in. While I am pro-choice, I suspect there’s a denser theological argument around the soul than simply being about women’s bodies per se, which I don’t intend to start here. 🙂 I’ve witnessed both the toxic effects of Catholic homophobia and gay Catholics living happily within the church. As I’ve repeatedly read, anyone getting the gig was not going to budge on certain core issues, as that is the nature of the faith, but I would hope that it is possible to extricate faith from the social landscape in order to live and let live – no pun intended. We can celebrate acts and practices which appear ‘good’, while not sharing or condoning certain beliefs attached to the do-gooder. Anyway, according to Nostradamus, it will all be over very soon because the big space rock is coming to take out Rome. (Courier Mail 15/03)

  72. Sara

    The comment of mine above relates to the previous comments prior to Zane’s and St Mary’s.

  73. Liz

    Sara, I just think there’s a huge gap between progressive Catholics, who as far as I can see twist themselves into knots to see the ‘good’, whilst acknowledging the bad. Whilst people outside the Church read this stuff and tend to respond with absolute horror. Just look at the link I posted about Bergogni’s opinion of women in politics. It’s something that Abbott would say. And the progressives here would be condemning him for saying it . But, somehow Bergogni says the same thing and he still gets to be a representative of social justice within the Catholic Church. And fills people with joy, to boot.To me, it’s just barmy. Thinking women are equal in the secular world is a very low hurdle to jump. And Bergogni just did a massive fail.

    There’s link after link that one could post about the evil that priests and nuns have perpetuated in the name of the Church. The fact that there’s individuals who do good is nice. But, it hardly measures up against the structural evil which is repeated again and again. And if you think you can change it, I have to bridge to sell you. You’ve kind of acknowledged that, with your comment that the Church isn’t going to budge on certain issues. But, I’m gobsmacked that anyone with progressive politics can be comfortable with this bloke.

  74. Sara

    I can hear you, Zane. My point, as a strict non-Catholic, was simply that ordinary people who have a belief in Christianity and who are otherwise good people do exist separately to the ‘filth’ aspects of the institution and its leaders as you correctly describe. Abuse is a criminal act and a theft of the soul and I would never condone anything which contributes to that. All Catholics I know are left-wing progressives with a strong spirituality and ‘pro-Gay’ beliefs (not tolerance) and it would not be honestly possible for me to associate them with hatred, prejudice or abuse. I acknowledge that they have a right to their faith, ie the Jesus stuff, 😉 as I know they acknowledge my right to mine. As much as outrage is absolutely totally justified, so is some separation of the real villains with these people who have done nothing wrong.

  75. Zane Trow

    Sara…I hear you to, none of my best friends are Catholics, some of my best friends left long ago.

    Genuflection: 1. to bend the knee or touch one knee to the floor in reverence or worship. 2. to express a servile attitude.

    Servile to the madness, complicit in the harm.

    That’s enuff from me.

  76. Liz

    And here’s another article about Bergogni’s dark past in New Matilda, from an Argentinian journo. But, hey, he’s so into social justice.


  77. Kim

    Thanks for that comment, Sara.

    Liz and Zane, don’t feel you have to answer if it’s too personal, but I’m wondering if you identify as atheists?

    Liz, you suggest I walk away from the Church. I can’t do that. I don’t think people who are not believers understand belief. Belief is affectual, it’s experiential, it’s not something reducible to reason. I would be happy to clarify all this, if there’s interest in me writing something like “Why I Remain A Catholic”. Others have done that! I would only speak for myself, of course.

  78. Liz

    Kim, sure I’m an atheist. I do remember as a child asking Dad what religion we were and he said , “we’re heathens”. I think it was a joke. I understand that religion is a matter of belief. That’s why I’m totally uninterested in arguments about the existence of God. I don’t much care what people believe in, as long as they leave me alone.

    To me, the question you suggest is not quite the right one. The reframe which would interest me is; “how do I reconcile my progressive politics with my identification with an evil, retrogressive institution?” A sub question of that would be; “how do I , as a feminist, celebrate the election of a misogynist as Pope?”. Questions of God, or belief don’t interest me. The cognitive dissonance, as I see it, is interesting. Because, quite honestly I find this thread depressing.

    But, I kind think I know what your answers would be about. I think you’d tell me that you and other good people are working for change and that that change is happening slowly. But, I actually think working within the Church just enables the evil fuckers. I might be wrong about what your answers might be and you may not like the way I frame the questions. Bit, if your answers are different, I’d be interested.

  79. Ambigulous

    Zane @ 98

    I too welcome back LP with gusto, but for me this thread demonstrates its value as a forum: a fine post [habemus exegesis, to mix languages], and a vigorous – if heated and pained – discussion.

    I’m sad for those you’ve been working with, and hope they find strength and renewal; but I can’t see any evidence that LP posters sympathise with perpetrators of abuse.

  80. Zane Trow

    OK Kim, since you ask:

    My parents had no religion. So I have only ever been to churches of various kinds at funerals. The best one I remember was at a synagogue because of all the jokes and laughter. So with that laughter in mind…

    At Notre Dame de Paris I recognised the power of an ancient ritual continually performed and at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres I walked the labyrinth. I did not need belief in anything to experience the cultural power of these acts. I also oversaw the design and placement of a labyrinth at Brisbane Powerhouse in 2000, now fallen to neglect and almost faded to nothing. It’s outside the Stores building if anyone is interested.

    I also spent a good deal of time carefully tape recording Tibetan chant worship in Mcleod Ganj at the 25th anniversary of Tibetan exile. I definitely experienced energies that were curious and unexplainable at the time. Later I read Rougets’ Music and Trance: A Theory of the Relations Between Music and Possession and cleared that all up. It’s well worth a read if you ever feel transported by any kind of ritual.

    Overall I’m with Dawkins, although to spite him and Rouget I do retain an irrational belief in Robert Fripp, Frank Zappa and Jeff Beck (in that order).

    And Ambigulous, point taken about the debate, however these people here have been long term members of a club that systematically abuses children and then hides and lies about it. They could just resign their membership, while still holding onto and working for the aims and objectives that formed the club in the first place. They choose not to. In fact they say they have no choice because of ……”belief”.

    I therefore have no symapthy with them. They remain complicit, in my view.

  81. Katz

    Always nice to read about nice people feeling optimistic. When those two stars align one is tempted to feel a little hopeful one’s self.

    Just an idle thought: at what point is hope exhausted?

  82. Ambigulous

    Thanks Zane and Katz.

    1. the founding principles of ‘the club’ are worthy of respect…

    2. “Where there’s life”, Katz.

  83. Casey

    “They remain complicit, in my view.”

    Excuse me, can I just clarify this? Are you saying the Catholic who written this post and the Catholics who who have responded on this thread and engaged in discussion here are complicit with child abuse?

    Is that what you are saying?

  84. Casey

    written = wrote

  85. Ootz

    “Hope” is more than idle thought, Katz. Now you are venturing into Joseph Campbell’s ‘thousand faces’ territory. As an agnostic mystic I can live to that and also adhere to “irrational belief in Robert Fripp, Frank Zappa and Jeff Beck (and agree with that order)”.

    One can adhere to a particular believe system and still use ones own interpretation and experiences thereof without selling or sub-servicing one self. Bowing, dropping on ones knee and other such behaviour also serve a function of showing respect, which is lacking somewhat in our times. Most people struggle with the idea of something that maybe larger than their Self and even have trouble to respect that.

  86. paul burns

    Those of you who are alleging Francis I collaborated with the Argentinian generals – ask yourself this question: what would you do if you were living under a regime that would kill you if you spoke out against it – stay silent or speak out and die, thereby making yourself utterly useless in saving some people from the regime.
    I don’t know what Francis did or perhaps more importantly did not do – The book on the Catholic Church and the regime is called The Silence for obvious reasons — the evidence is far too contradictory and it depends what you read and who wrote it.

  87. desipis

    Liz, I’m an atheist like you, but I find the best way to understand why people won’t walk away from their religion is to imagine the question is about nationality.

    “how do I reconcile my progressive politics with my identification with an evil, retrogressive institution?”

    If Tony Abbott were to be elected and start implementing regressive policies, would you stop considering yourself an Australian? Would you abandon (conceptually or physically) the country, or would you fight to push the country in the direction you think best, regardless of how hopeless that might seem at times? There is more to the church than just the hierarchy, just as there’s more to Australia than just the government.

    “how do I , as a feminist, celebrate the election of a misogynist as Pope?”

    If Turnbull were then to take over as PM and roll back some but not all the regressive policies, would that be a milestone worth celebrating?

  88. Bernice

    True, I don’t know what I would do. But I hope I would have the courage to do just as Mercedes Sosa did, and so many others as well. Again and again, Sosa publicly challenged the junta, describing their crimes, naming them as the murderers and butchers that they were. She infuriated them, to the point where they had her arrested during a concert in front of an audience of over 10 000 – 10 000 witnesses to another small banal act of evil.
    Paul, we won’t probably ever truly know what Jorge Bergoglio may have done. But we do know what he did not do – he did not condemn the junta, he did not publicly criticise them. He was silent when silence might buy you your own safety but condemned others to torture, imprisonment, the taking of their children, to death.

  89. Liz

    Desipis, all that goes into the category of false analogy. Nationality isn’t a matter of faith. It’s the stamp in my passport. You’re being very silly.

  90. Chris

    “how do I reconcile my progressive politics with my identification with an evil, retrogressive institution?”

    I’m not a Catholic, but perhaps one way of looking at your question is to compare it to asking someone who is an Australian citizen and has lived their whole life in the country to leave the country or be held complicit for the invasion of Iraq and treatment of asylum seekers even if they advocated and protested against such policies. Leaving a church may not seem significant hurdle to you, but its a huge step for some.

  91. Liz

    I’m not arguing it isn’t a huge step. But, it’s a step that can be taken. And as I said, comparing nationality and religion is a false analogy. And I’m going to get really grumpy if people keep using it. Especially, as I’m on my first glass of wine.

  92. Liz

    To extend my answers; look at what Kim has written about her faith above. It’s experiential, affectual and not open to reason. I believe that. It’s a matter of faith. The political processes you’re describing above are none of those things.

  93. Chris

    Liz – you can change your nationality if you really want to. An Australian citizen wouldn’t find it too hard to move to NZ. At the very least many countries will let you renounce your citizenship if you want to even if it will leave you in a difficult situation such as being stateless with no country’s resources to fall back on if you need them. For someone who has a strong faith in a religion asking them to leave that behind is analagous to asking someone to leave their country behind – it’s that important to them.

  94. Liz

    As I said, an eye-rollingingly silly analogy. I’m not interested in pursuing this line if argument any further, as I’ve already told you my opinion.

  95. desipis

    Liz, I guess I was conceptualising nationality as something more than just a legal attribute, rather seeing it as something that was also ‘experiential’, covering things such as lifestyle; connections with family, friends and the local community; cultural practices, rituals and celebrations; values; memories and emotions; and so on.

  96. Chris

    Liz – I’m not saying they’re the same situation (no analogy is perfect), just as an indication of how important a religion can be to someone. A different analogy – asking a parent to longer have any contact with their adult son or daughter because the son or daughter has committed a crime (perhaps even continues to do so) or seen to be complicit in what they do.

  97. Justin

    I don’t get why people are upset that a patriarchal anti-gay man was elected Pope. That was a given. It’s like complaining that Obama was elected because he’s not Noam Chomsky.

    Why can’t we be happy about a pleasant surprise that along with those negatives we get a Pope who is profoundly pro-poor?

  98. FDB

    Gosh, this is awkwardly symmetrical – though I guess saying so is an outrage both semantic and geometric – because the first time I ever read all the way down through an LP thread was also a social justice vs Catholicism stoush of some kind. There have been quite a few now.

    What makes them so… I don’t want to say fun, but… compelling?

    I think how Liz puts it is Fine with me. When people’s affective, irreducible, lalalalaIcan’thearyou faith gets in the way of their rational views about the real world, and when I usually agree with those views, it worries me a great deal.

    Anyway, welcome back LP. Always worth the time, often weird.

  99. Golliblog

    Europe now accounts for less than a quarter of all Catholics. Latin America has 40% and Africa 15% but the latter is growing rapidly. Since Europe and the Anglosphere outside Europe produces practically no priests, the future of the Church clearly lies outside the Western World and probably in Africa and Latin America.

    Given the relatively regressive attitude of Latin Americans and Africans cf. Europeans and the Anglosphere to women and homosexuals (see the relevant Pew Global Survey results for example), I doubt Catholic women and homosexuals have much to look forward to in the 21st century.

    Hopefully the 22nd century will produce a less toxic brand of Catholicism …

  100. Katz

    Yeah, but at some point hope metastasises into gullibility.

  101. Paul Norton

    Is Ayaan Hirsi Ali being realistic in expecting the world’s one billion-odd Muslims to walk away from Islam at her behest (or, more fairly, in response to her arguments about what is wrong with Islam) any time soon?

    If the answer to that question is no, is it any more realistic to expect the world’s one bilion-odd Catholics to heed a similar call any time soon?

    If the answer to that question is also no, what are the implications for how we should proceed in pursuing our concern about the negative manifestations of those faiths (especially considering that there are no few adherents of both those faiths who are just as concerned about those negative manifestations)?

    Disclosure: I’m a lapsed Protestant.

  102. Paul Norton

    Aso, does Pope Francis support a change of Federal ALP leader, and if so, to whom?

  103. FDB

    Or to put it another way, is Pope Francis lesbian?

  104. paul burns

    Historians take on Francis and the ‘Dirty War’. FYI.

    So far as I can work out, and I’ve been following it a long time now, HNN has contributors across the political spectrum, mostly American.

  105. Ootz

    In your terms Katz, the Self is a much easier prey for (intellectual) carcinogenic malformation than Hope will ever be.

  106. paul burns

    Mark @ 137,
    Now that has not been widely publicised. But I wouldn’t expect it to be.
    And there are also always people no matter what, who are never going to be convinced otherwise. It is a bit sad, I reckon.
    I like the article where he told the Argentinians not to fly to Rome but give their air-fares to the poor. And the bit in another article where he keeps on freaking out the staff by using the lift. I think I’m going to like this guy.

  107. Golliblog

    Kim and Mark are certainly making a fair point about us atheists not reducing Catholicism to a stereotype. And I say that as someone who generally delights in Catholic bashing.

    A couple of weeks ago I attended my wife’s bosses 50th birthday bash- 99% of the 200 odd people there including the boss’s wife were Indian Catholics. I was surprised to see a well received drag act performed by an obviously gay man as part of the entertainment. I was also humbled by the spirit of community I witnessed, the self-evident closeness of the families and strong friendships and the positive affirmations of faith. Interestingly, two Catholic priests were present and they performed some rituals in a solemn yet joyous spirit.

  108. Liz

    How are Catholics being reduced to a stereotype here? I posted Bergoglio’s own misogyny at 94. It was a direct quote. It makes Abbott sound like a moderate. But, the silence here in relationship to those words are deafening. Why is that? Why have none the Catholics here actually remarked on that? Why aren’t you pissed off about that? Instead people get a thrill about the trivial fact that he uses the lift. What a load of bollocks. It sounds like adolescent pop star worship. And you know what it makes me feel? That you can’t trust Catholics who call themselves progressive, because they’re quite happy to throw women under the bus, when it suits them. Well, fuck you Bergoglio with your vile misogyny. You’re just another prat in fancy dress.

  109. paul burns

    He comes from South America. There’s this attitude in South America among males called machismo. Feminists have been condemning it for years. You are condemning some-one because of their cultural/racial background. South American males grow up with it from childhood. That is probably where his attitude derives from, I would guess.
    Maybe your comments are being ignored because of your bigoted anti-Catholicism. In Apologetics – ie the defence of Catholicism – one learns early not to argue against prejudice because you can’t change a person’s viewpoint so there is no point wasting your breath.

  110. Liz

    Bullshit, Paul. You’ve just said South American men are misogynists because they can’t help it. Simply not true. I’ve known many South American men and they don’t hold up to your tired old stereotype. How insulting to them. And I’m the who’s supposed to be dealing in stereotypes?

    And yes Mark, you’re completely free to comment or not on anything you want. I just find it stunning that this obvious problem isn’t being addressed.

  111. paul burns

    having looked at the website you got that quote from, which appears to be a militant atheist hate site, its a little difficult to take it too seriously in its attitudes to Catholicism.

    Have a look at the Wikipedia page on machismo. It definitely does not mean a variant of misogyny that can’t be helped.

  112. Liz

    Paul, I didn’t say the Pope had machismo, you did. I said he’s a misogynist. I’m glad you’re learned the difference.

    You’re also doing a classic bait and switch. You don’t like the website the quote comes from, so you choose to handwave the quote away, instead of engaging with it. Are you denying he said those words?

    And Mark, on second thoughts, me asking you to comment on the
    Pope’s misogyny is nothing like someone demanding you write a post condemning Person X. You’ve already written a post about the proverbial Person X. You’re just choosing to ignore a crucial thing about that person. Of course you can choose to do that. And I can choose to voice my surprise. Or perhaps you think his misogyny doesn’t matter? Or perhaps you don’t know how to address it? Or perhaps you’re perplexed or embarrassed about it? I have no idea.

  113. paul burns

    I was trying to give an explanation of why the pope had those attitudes. Nothing more, nothing less. You are the one who extended it to all Latin American men.
    I have no idea if you found it unacceptable because it is a more complicated by the nowadays catch-all condemnation of misogyny. Misogynists are men who hate stress hate women. I’ve met very few real misogynists – two to be exact – in my 67 years and they were very unpleasant people to be around. One was a devout Catholic, the other was a militant atheist. And I’m really glad neither are in my life any more.

  114. Liz

    Paul, you said he held those attitudes because he was South American. Don’t backtrack now. What I remember about you from the last version of LP was that you’re a lovely bloke, but you understand very little about feminism. I suggest you look at Feminism 101 to educate yourself. And are you seriously asking me why I found the pope’s comment unacceptable? Seriously?

    Mark, I didn’t make inferences. I asked questions, because I’m gobsmacked by the issue. And yes, I’ve just worked a 10 hour day, so I have a few other things to do as well.

  115. desipis

    It looks like that the quote isn’t genuine after all.

  116. Nick

    Liz, I haven’t really dug too hard, but the quote you mentioned appears to be fabricated.


  117. Zane Trow

    Just for the record, I am completely and irrevocably against religion of all kinds, someone calling something “bigoted anti-Catholicism” and someone else threatening to “instant condemn” because you don’t like what they are asking to do – justify the entire existence IMHO of this blog and everything it has previously claimed to stand for – but hey, you have to go and worship in an institution that clearly hates women, whatever the veracity of a particular quote.

    Disgusting, vile, unacceptable, really really ugly people.

    My last words, my last visit.

    Fuck off.

  118. tigtog

    Just in case you’re still lurking, Zane Trow – you misread to what the “instant condemn” referred and are thus rushing to an assumption that has biased your judgement of the writer. If you care to ask for clarification, I’m sure that it would be forthcoming.

    I’m also an atheist BTW, and I am often bewildered by religious attachments myself. Over the years several horrendous misunderstandings have now led to me routinely requesting clarification before concluding that I have read someone correctly on matters which bewilder me, because we are often coming from such different premises that the very terminology we use can lead to confusion when our jargon backgrounds can be so widely separated.

  119. tigtog

    Also just to clarify myself, the fundamental underlying misogyny (and Paul Burns needs to get a more recently updated dictionary) of most major world religions is exactly what bewilders me about the religious attachments of many people whom I regard as allies otherwise in broader political and social justice activism.

    I don’t get it, and suspect I never will. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to reject them as allies just on the grounds of their religious attachments so long as we can work together on other things we both find important.

  120. tigtog

    P.S. that also doesn’t mean that I think Liz has been wrong to issue her challenges on this thread – they are points that needed to be aired.

  121. paul burns

    Well, there you go. We’ve all been led up the garden path about Pope Francis I. Apologies all round to anybody I might have upset with my comments, especially Liz.
    Its not that I don’t believe the Catholic Church shouldn’t be criticised. Goodness me, before and since my re-conversion, I’ve had more than one go at it, sometimes very seriously, often in jest.
    Don’t think my comments about Pell have endeared me to some Catholics I know, and if he’d been made Pope this thread would be a flame-war, with me the main flamer.
    But Francis I seems to be some-one quite exceptional, and so far he’s withstood all the barbs thrown at him since his election.
    Sort of gives me confidence life won’t be too bad with him pope. Could be better but it won’t be too bad.

  122. Pavlov's Cat

    Organised religions, especially patriarchal and therefore either potentially or manifestly misogynist ones, are anathema and mystery to me too, but Zane Trow’s comment is a really terrible ad for whatever the other thing is.

  123. jumpy

    I am amazed that liz hasn’t apologised to Paul Burns da first by now.

  124. Brian

    My position is that I’m definitely not a Catholic and definitely not an atheist. What I am definite about is that we should listen to others with and respect and take care about judging the validity or rectitude of their own experience. Kim @ 108, I would be interested in anything you had to say about why you remain a Catholic.

    On the Argentinian material, I’ve followed the links. IMHO Verbitsky’s conclusions do not follow with certainty from the evidence he cites. Also I don’t think the two Jesuit priests, Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics, were in a position to know what Bergoglio was doing for them. Nothing is conclusive, nor is the fact that Jalics has since reconciled with Bergoglio. This link to The Guardian contains an interesting witness from Alicia Oliveria, who was meeting with Bergoglio twice a week during the time went the events took place and talking about his experiences:

    “I personally saw how much he suffered for the priests who were being pursued by the dictatorship,” said Oliveira. “He talked about it to me continually. At the time we were meeting about twice a week. Before they were kidnapped, he told me how hard he was trying to convince them to stop working in the slums, because it was too dangerous, but they insisted on staying to help the poor. So when they were finally kidnapped, he was devastated and did everything in his power to save them.”

    Bernice @ 119, it’s not valid to say that he should have spoken out as Mercedes Sosa did. He was walking in different shoes and was differently placed.

  125. Brian

    paul burns misogyny used to mean “the hatred of women”. It’s what my Oxford Australian (1998) says. But you might recall that Julia Gillard’s speech last year prompted Macquarie to update their definition.

  126. Pavlov's Cat

    We are living, for some reason, in a literal-minded age in which most people have forgotten how to use or understand figurative language. I think one of the problems in all the kerfuffle about the definition of misogyny is that most people take, or took, it to mean literal, active, specific hatred of real, individual women. Hence Abbott’s trotting out of his wife and daughters to prove he isn’t.

    But I’ve always understood it (both before and after the dictionary thing) to mean something more abstract, a hatred of the abstraction, or the principle, or the spectacle, of womankind in general. The way that the Adam and Eve story projects so-called original sin onto womankind is, to my mind, misogynist not only in itself but in the way it works as a metaphor for sexual misbehaviour, which of course is what this story is really about. Men have been blaming women’s wicked seductive ways for their own sexual incontinence ever since and using that story as a model — it gets Christian men completely off the hook. ‘The woman did tempt me, and I did eat.’

  127. mindy

    That’s my understanding too PC.

  128. Casey

    The way that the Adam and Eve story projects so-called original sin onto womankind is, to my mind, misogynist not only in itself but in the way it works as a metaphor for sexual misbehaviour, which of course is what this story is really about

    Yes indeed, the way it’s been traditionally received and interpreted by patriarchy within the church, but as you would know better than I, much scholarship has been done, both feminist and coming out of many other strands, which debunk that entirely and go back to the original hebrew to show how they have been misinterpreted. Within some of these readings, the curse is that patriarchal rule is the result of a fallen world and not the way it was meant to be originally. Submission to the man is, in fact, a sin for one should only submit to God. The call for the modern church is to reverse that patriarchal rule. The way I got told at church, was that Adam bears the brunt of the original sin for various reasons (Eve was deceived – he went along with it and blamed her when God asked him about it. Eve actually just told God straight) and I got told that at a particularly conservative (protestant) church which really loves sticking the boot into women in ways that the Catholic patriarchs can only dream of, when I was quite young. I can find the links if you want the many expositions but really, a google will reveal them. I think even the most patriarchal of religious authorities across all denominations say that the sin of apple eating is not a metaphor for sexual misbehaviour but for disobeying God. There are two stories of creation in Genesis that have been patched together. You have to watch out for as well. One is much older than the other and this also causes some confusion and a lot of discussion and debate. The story is very very ancient, but not as old as the book of Job, which is dated as the oldest. According to some recent feminist readings which again look at the hebrew words and their meaning (and the two differently worded stories of creation in Genesis) Man and woman are made in God’s image because God is both male and female. Therefore they are created equal. One part cannot submit to the other. God itself is rendered as both male and female at various points in the OT. In Genesis, they are told to eat seeds, not animals (a vegetarian world) and to look after the world. It’s a metaphorical utopia for me, a place to which we can never get back, not here. This utopia has given rise to so many longings in literature for the past which we can never get back to. This is why I love the Genesis story so much, not in the least because countries like America founded themselves on these utopias and quickly lost them and that produced exquisite literature like The Great Gatsby. In my thesis, I looked at this in some recent Australian writing attempts black and white utopias as a solution to the ongoing issues of white beginnings (I critiqued it at a conference and got in big trouble). The original sin concept, btw, is a Christian one. Jews don’t believe in original sin. I’m not sure about the Muslim faith, it would be interesting to know about that from the Muslim perspective.

    I must say, I would be much more willing to talk about why I persist in having this faith and being a feminist and not finding the two incompatible (and what my faith actually is because it’s not just Catholic) if I didn’t feel I was going to be flamed to death with a torch through the keyboard. It’s really hard to talk honestly about this stuff when people start using terms like ‘spaghetti monster’ and disparage your beliefs as delusional and assert that because you have them you are complicit in child abuse. Also, I often feel people don’t actually want to know really, they just want to bash religion so why make yourself vulnerable in the first place? You never know a person’s background either, on both sides of these discussions. You don’t know what roads got them to certain places. It would be nice to tread a little more gently on these threads.

  129. paul of albury

    I’m not sure if the meaning of misogyny really has changed. People (ok, mostly men) have tried to weasel out with the excuse that they don’t hate women (as long as they know their place, which is less than that of men). I don’t see this as much of a distinction. And on topic, it seems explicitly the official view of the Catholic Church.

    And more on topic, it seems metaphorically people are cheering that we have Tony Abbott or maybe Uncle Joe, where we might have had Lightfoot or Bernardi.

  130. Cristy

    Casey I really enjoyed your comment and relate to a lot of it.

    Additionally my childhood church had a lot of feminist & social justice oriented theology, and the Quakers meetings that I attended as a kid and later as an adult demonstrated to me a highly egalitarian, open & questioning faith.

    The Christianity that is skewered in all of these online debates just doesn’t resemble my experience of Christianity.

  131. paul burns

    jumpy @ 164,
    I don’t need Liz to apologise to me. We get on fine. In this case we each had a different viewpoint and we had a stoush. That’s part of the fun of being on LP. I don’t want anybody to apologise for providing me with a bit of fun, even when the sentiments I express are very heartfelt, as, in regard to Catholicism, they are, in this case.
    On a more general level, not applicable to any commentators here, I must admit I’m a bit stunned at the level of anti-Catholicism around, not on LP, but everywhere. Its new to me. I left the church at 17, I’m now 68 (not 67 – I can’t count) and didn’t come back to it until I was nearly 67. So I never experienced it in all those years, or at least it didn’t have an emotional impact on me cause I wasn’t really a believer. I would contradictorily, both attack and stick up for the Church in the years I was away. So, since I still do so, things haven’t changed much. But I find I’m much more affected emotionally by anti-Catholicism now than before my reconversion – which was partly emotional, partly intellectual and partly caused by a very small personal miracle.

  132. Brian

    Paul @ 170, I think the change in definition is crucial. The move to “entrenched prejudice” includes an attitude of mind involving reason rather than just the pure emotion of hatred.

    Recently I’ve been looking a bit at Prussian history during the Hohenzollern period where the rulers were absolute and by definition male in a patriarchal society. Nevertheless in a number of cases the women were strong to the point of effectively having a veto or in one case actually running the show.

    I’ve also been looking at our family history. I’d say my dad owned the farm and still in the first part of last century would have been seen as ‘owning’ his wife. But the enterprise was not just running a farm. That was merely instrumental in raising a family. There were 5 kids and always extras in the household. Many mouths to feed. We grew a lot of our own veg (mainly mum) and mum made a lot of our clothes. When the dairy engine broke down my mum was there and the fastest hand milker. The roles were complementary, but absolutely of equal worth. Overall I’d say my mum had the dominant role, whatever her legal status.

    The role of institutions in our society is an interesting one, but hierarchical institutions in a society that is still patriarchal to a large degree are always going to be problematic.

    My question is whether the Catholic church needs a pope at all. The structural conditions of the institution in a montheistic religion will have a tendency to entrenched conservatism, it seems to me.

  133. Pavlov's Cat

    “Submission to the man is, in fact, a sin for one should only submit to God.”

    Yeah, Milton has a lot to answer for there in his account of Adam and Eve: ‘He for God only, she for God in him.’ Unlike Charlotte Brontë: ‘I could not, in those days, see God for his creature: of whom I had made an idol.’

  134. Lefty E

    Organised religions, especially patriarchal and therefore either potentially or manifestly misogynist ones, are anathema and mystery to me too, but Zane Trow’s comment is a really terrible ad for whatever the other thing is.

    Yep. No need for that.

    For me, as someone who not only believes, but sincerely hopes there is no afterlife, religion cant really market me anything – outside an ethical system for life, which I like to handle solo.

    Also I just cant get with the program. Example: I was surprised to learn during the Saint Mary of Oz thingo that those ‘miracles’ performed by saints were all post-mortem. I didnt know that. I’d always assumed that research was about miracles performed during their lifetime!

    Suffice to say, religious modes of thinking r not us.

  135. Chris

    But I’ve always understood it (both before and after the dictionary thing) to mean something more abstract, a hatred of the abstraction, or the principle, or the spectacle, of womankind in general.

    I think that previously people would have just used the word sexist for this. Wrt to Abbot I suspect the use of the word mysogynist was deliberate to associate him publicly with the harder meaning of hatred of women whilst still being able to plausibly deny that is the claim. Especially when it’s used without clarification when it’s known to have a traditional meaning leaning towards literal hatred.

  136. paul of albury

    Brian, I don’t really get the significance of your first sentence.

    Your later paragraphs seem to be saying that while the ostensible social structure was patriarchal, this never really worked anyway. I’d agree but would note this must have added great difficulty for achiever women, and probably prevented most potential female achievements. And the legal status is important – society reserves the right to say your achievement means nothing on any whim because you’re outside the protection of expected norms.

    Perhaps the same applies to the Catholic Church, the reality is different from the official position. But the pontifications of the patriarchy seem to have been being enforced more strongly by the Vatican recently. We can hope they move away from stifling women’s status that may threaten their power (ok to help out, but no authority) but from outside the church this still appears to be heading backwards since a relative high point in the 60s. Inside things may well look better but Rome looks to be working against you.

    I was just thinking that thanks to affirmative action there may be a lesser expectation that women in high positions in society are exceptionally superior, we may be approaching a time when women will typically only be equally competent. This does not seem likely in the Catholic Church.

  137. Lefty E

    [I’ve also been looking at our family history.]

    Brian, Ive been doing the same: Ms LE, die Mutter meiner Kinder, is also German-Australian. They arrived in 1864 from Prussia, and all leave near Beenleigh speaking German exclusively until WW1, and privately aferward until WW2. My father in law remembers it being spoken still in the 1940s. The only ever married other Germans.

    Seems they were Prussian refugees from the Junkers, and conscription, invited by the new QLD government who were impressed by an earlier 1840s wave of Germans who were soundly Protestant and conservative. Unfortunately for them this lot though Lutheran were far more liberal. Early QLD labour journals, notably The Worker, in the 1890s normally ran electoral ads in German as well as English.

    This makes them “second wave” in the terms described here: http://germanydownunder.com/they-came-and-they-stayed/

    Similar to the Bahnischs? Or a different lot? I seem to recall being told your own family still spoke German even later in the piece…

  138. paul of albury

    And after agonising over that long post I just realised what I was saying is that in the past women have had to succeed in spite of being women. How can a belief that this is reasonable not involve a hatred of someone being ‘woman’. It seems on some people’s definition you had to be Jack the Ripper to be a misogynist.

  139. Nick

    Mark, it’s been interesting reading all the traditional right-wing Catholics absolutely fuming at Bergoglio’s appointment. When Argentina legalised same-sex marriage, they all regarded his opposition to it at the time as insincere, and very very weak. More or less stating the church’s position, and declaring that more discussion was required. A quick trip through Argentinian youtube clips last night of news reports from 2010, appeared to confirm this. Similarly with his lack of opposition to abortion.

    I relate a lot to where Liz is coming from – and Zane also – and given their experience with the Catholic church and the immense damage it has caused people they’ve come into contact with, I certainly understand their strong feelings.

    I also trust you and Kim enough to hopefully know that, if you think this represents a positive change for the better, then hopefully that’s what it turns out to be. The dinosaurs will be gone for good soon – and a hundred thousand years of evolutionary baggage along with them.

  140. mindy

    I am hoping that what has been revealed in the past few days is how Pope Francis means to continue because that will make him a true progressive in any Church, not just the Catholic Church.

    He wants to focus on the poor which is wonderful, and if he is willing to do it with the understanding that one of the best ways to get families out of poverty is to allow them to choose the size of their families then that will be a fantastic thing. As long as he can drag the rest of them, some kicking and screaming no doubt, with him.

  141. MsLaurie

    I do hope the Catholic church finds a way to at least endorse contraception within marriage, that could help so many people across the world manage their lives easier… After all, nothing is 100% perfect, so tge argument could easily be that if god wants life, it can override human efforts.
    I can’t see, realistically, that the church would ever endorse abortion, even as a ‘necessary evil’.

  142. Chris

    MsLaurie – I kind of doubt that we’d see endorsement of contraception in the short term, changing the direction of an organisation that size without it simply fracturing takes time. I think I read somewhere that he does support use of condoms in the case of HIV though which if true is a major step along the path. And I think if the church just put less effort into opposing contraception without endorsing it in 3rd world countries that would make a huge difference.

  143. jumpy

    PB @172

    I don’t need Liz to apologise to me.

    Quite right, her (?) apology should be to the new pope that she (?) defamed by promulgating a vulgar lie.
    Brian @173

    My question is whether the Catholic church needs a pope at all.

    And my question is whether Islam would benefit from a pope like figure to remove some of the radical and extreme interpretations of the text they live their lives by?
    If a radical mufti goes outside reasonable interpretation of the koran, there is zero accountability or guidance from a ” god appointed head honcho .
    Islamic people would benefit greatly from a centralised authoritative figure to align the interpretation of the text by which they live their lives. Thereby having a suppressing effect on radical interpretation that has led to such horrible recent atrocities.

  144. FDB

    Mark and Casey:

    The idea of faith in God (or anything for which one lacks what to me are the necessary rational/empirical grounds for belief) is foreign enough to me, and has been discussed to death here and everywhere else.

    But faith in a human institution, and one which demonstrably (rationally, empirically) doesn’t share ones own worldview on pretty major matters, is a fascinating thing.

    Personally, I’d quite like to have a conversation about that with people whose intellects I have good reason to respect. I suppose ignoring/moderating the inevitable arsehats who chime in would be tiresome, but I’ll leave that to you.

  145. Pavlov's Cat

    What FDB said.

  146. Lefty E

    I can tell you that in East Timor the Catholic hierarchy has been quietly turning a blind eye to contraception in recent years, acknowledging that the high birth rate was unsustainable.

    So, its not all down to the Pope.

  147. desipis

    You don’t know what roads got them to certain places. It would be nice to tread a little more gently on these threads.

    I agree with the gist of this point. However I do wonder if there’s an (unreasonable) expectation that Catholicism, Christianity, or religion in general ought to be treated gently when not all other institutions or communities with socially unjust values are afforded such consideration.

  148. desipis

    Quite right, her (?) apology should be to the new pope that she (?) defamed by promulgating a vulgar lie.

    So someone made up some fanciful story that appealed to inherent biases, Liz fell for it and got all preachy and righteous about it. That kind of thing has been going on for thousands of years.

  149. Casey

    I agree with the gist of this point. However I do wonder if there’s an (unreasonable) expectation that Catholicism, Christianity, or religion in general ought to be treated gently when not all other institutions or communities with socially unjust values are afforded such consideration.

    No I wasn’t talking about that. I was talking about the absolutes that were presented here where people were told they should leave the church if they were femo bolshos cause the two were not compatible and that if they stayed they were complicit in child abuse. That’s all I meant. The real gist of that was “How do you know you are not addressing someone who was abused”? sort of thing – from both sides, you know? That’s what I meant by treading gently. We just don’t know peoples’ histories when we talk about child abuse and the Catholic Church and everyone should bear that in mind, that’s all.

  150. jane

    Mark @150, out of curiosity, I read the link you provided and I think that the writer seems to bear no small resemblance to the loony right in general.

    However, as a non-Catholic, I’m rather puzzled as to why he believes that unless mass is said in Latin, it lacks legitimacy.

    Surely to hear the mass in a language you understand must enhance the experience, not devalue it. One’s responses must surely gain meaning, texture and power because you know what they mean.

    I really don’t understand why they feel so threatened by such a mild and sensible (to outsider me) change.

    Why isTLM is such an issue for some Catholics, when there are so many more serious issues, such as relevance, falling attendances etc in the 21stC, facing not just the Catholic Church, but all churches?

  151. jane

    paul burns @172, I have a feeling that anti-catholic sentiment has never gone away.

    My parents, neither of whom had time for any religion really, had an entrenched antipathy to Catholicism, an attitude which I feel has been part of Protestant baggage since the Reformation.

    My parents referred to Catholics as Papists, which had absolutely no meaning for me because I had no idea there was a Pope, nor that there were Protestants thanks to Martin Luther and Henry VIII.

    I do think the proliferation of US style evangelical churches has sparked a revival of anti-catholicism.

    The happy clappers I know reckon the Pope is the anti-Christ and the Church is, to borrow a term from fundy Muslims, the Great Satan.

    And here I thought that the God all Christians worship is the same one. Apparently I am incorrect in that assumption. Go figure.

  152. paul burns

    jane @ 194,
    TLM is pre-Vatican II. It has the priest with his back to the congregation, and is replete with bells and incense, and when a high mass inspiring in a Gregorian chant. It was extremely hypnotic, and because Mass was compulsory on pain of damnation way back when, and probably an addictive ritual. It is a thing of beauty when sung, religious belief aside.
    Nowadays its unfortunately become a sort of flag-waving symbol for the mad Catholic religious Right, which is unfortunate. They were always, even before Vatican II, a bunch of dangerous fanatical nutters. DLP types, not to be confused with ordinary Catholics.
    That’s my explanation anyway.

  153. paul burns

    I don’t really want to feed the fishes but this assessment of the post-Vatican II papacies is so radical I can’t resist it.

  154. jane

    paul burns @196, thank you. Not having a religious upbringing, I was unaware of any of that. It’s a pity TLM has become a symbol for nutters, though.

    Wow, looks like the appointment of Pope Francis has upset a few people. I wonder if he will be haunted by this sort of stuff for his entire incumbency?

  155. Brian

    paul of albury @ 177, my first para @ 173 was meant to say that prejudice can involve flawed thinking rather than emotion. In fact it may not involve ‘hating’ at all.

    In the examples of the Prussian rulers and prevailing norms of my youth women tended to be placed on a pedestal. My experience differed from theirs in that it was post Victorian attitudes to sex. Combined with a fairly fundamental brand of Lutheranism, thinking certain thoughts could be deemed a sin.

    But at the time what might now be recognised as structural misogyny seemed whole and good and relatively unproblematic at the time. Moving from that state of mind to one now considered appropriate is not a simple step.

    BTW there was an interesting session on the BBC today via NewsRadio about the Project Implicit at Harvard. The psychologist talking about it said that we have intrinsic biases which we are not aware of and which are likely to shock us because they don’t conform with our ideas about ourselves. She specifically used the term ‘bias’ rather than ‘prejudice’ which she said involved conscious thought.

  156. Brian

    FDB @ 188:

    The idea of faith in God (or anything for which one lacks what to me are the necessary rational/empirical grounds for belief) is foreign enough to me, and has been discussed to death here and everywhere else.

    Not sure I agree with how you’ve set up the issue. In my humble view we are all always in a state of faith of some kind. What’s involved is a state of being which needs to check out with a rational filter.

    Talking about this state of being requires self-knowledge, verbal skill and an interlocutor with a certain receptivity. Not easy on blogs.

  157. Brian

    Lefty E @ 178, family origins are OT, so I’ll answer briefly. We get a mention in the fourth last paragraph of the link, for which thanks.

    Our mob came in the 1840s to the Barossa, after the first wave caused by religious persecution in Prussia and at the time of unrest which led to revolutions all over Europe in 1848.

    1864 was the year Prussia and Austria attacked Denmark. Bismarck’s militarism, although Germany was quite peaceful after unification in 1871, caused many to go.

    I’ll send you some stuff I’ve been writing after the next (hopefully final) revision.

  158. paul of albury

    Thanks Brian, I believe most of the modern flawed thinking is rationalisation not reason but historically it’s something to think about. People can do really bad things for ideas but often those ideas seem rooted in a false tenet based on wishful thinking

  159. Casey

    But faith in a human institution, and one which demonstrably (rationally, empirically) doesn’t share ones own worldview on pretty major matters, is a fascinating thing.

    Not it’s not, everyone does it all the time. This is the art of living in the real world. Listen, the idea that you can make these manichean decisions about human institutions are only really viable in the personality organisation of a two year old having a tantrum at Coles. Take this Labor party for instance, take Julia Gillard: 48% of Labor voters support her. I’m betting that 48% of Labor supporters do not support her moving to the right of Howard on refugees, her attacks on foreign workers, her egregious raising of stereotypes with her ‘rivers of grog’ comments on alcohol and Aboriginal people, her changes to the single mother’s pension, her refusal to do away with the intervention, you could go on and on and on – no gay marriage, marriage is between a man and a woman even! She is the most socially conservative PM and she is an athiest to boot! Why on earth hold these views on hetero marriage prevailing? Yet this is the centre left of Australian politics at the moment. Well I hold totally opposite views to hers. But I’m sticking with her because she’s done some good things too and she is our first female PM from the left, she made history when she sewed Abbott up in Parliament with the misogyny speech and when she is good she is very good. You work with what you have and agitate for change when you don’t have it.

  160. paul burns

    I keep on finding these things.

    The title of the URL is grossly misleading. Francis I had nothing to do with the death squads and its a bit rich to blame him for the neo-fascism of Jean-Paul II. As for J-P II, anybody who makes a saint of the founder of Opus Dei, who was a fascist collaborator with Franco, just can’t be taken seriously as a man of faith.

  161. Liz

    Casey, I don’t think your analogy between the Catholic Church and the Labor Party Works. The Labor Party has to appeal to at least 50% of the population on a two party preferred basis. To do this, it has to fight hard to win votes in a difficult democratic process. It has to have policies to appeal to a wide range of demographics to to do that and contradictions and puzzling policy decisions are inherent in the process. I agree that people who complain because not every policy decision goes their way, is like a child throwing a tantrum. I don’t know why Gillard won’t support gay marriage. I suspect it’s because she’s done a deal with the religious right within the ALP, which just shows the corrosive nature of religion to the political process. But, that’s politics for you.

    The Catholic Church doesn’t have to take part in the rough and tumble of democracy. It doesn’t have to appeal to trade union members, small business owners, latte sippers etc, etc, etc, in order to win office. We don’t vote for religious institutions to govern our country. Plainly, there’s an internal political process which goes on within organsied religions, which I imagine is fairly vicious at times. But, that’s a completely different thing. It’s not like every Catholic goes out to vote for the Pope, or for any other religious office. That might be a good reform, btw. But, ALP/Catholic Church. Just, no.

    FWIW, I’m not a Dawkinite. I don’t think people who are religious are delusional or stupid. I don’t understand that belief at all. But, I’m not really interested in it either. To each their own, and all that. Personally, I find the concept of God and the afterlife not so much delusional, as repulsive. But, that really is just me as far as I’m concerned.

    What concerns me is the political nature of organised religions, which as Pav and tigtog have pointed out seem centrally founded on deep, deep misogyny. And I simply don’t think they’re going to be reformed by good people. They’ve been that way for a long time and yes, some things have changed but, they’re fundamentally deeply misogynist and embedded in the patrirachy in their politics and culture. And I think the Catholic Church is probably one of the worst religions on that basis.

    Neither do I agree that every Catholic is complicit in child abuse. That’s just silly. But, here’s a story that really shocked me.


    Here’s a priest who raped a woman and then went on to have a long term sexual relationship with a vulnerable woman for years, which is, of of course, abusive in its nature. And when the story came out, he went on leave for 16 months and the Church paid the woman compensation. They’ve now shifted him to a different church and so a rapist gets to continue to represent God and minister to his flock after a nice bit of paid leave. This is why the Catholic Church nauseates so many people. They have form for this. Pay compensation, shift the rapist and hope everyone shuts up about it. So, I do think that anyone who keeps attending this specific church while he’s still there, isn’t complicit in rape, but they’re enabling rape culture. And, I don’t understand how good people can go along with this.

  162. Lefty E

    Thanks Brian, wrong thread indeed. But thats interesting. Yes I understand by the 2nd wave the religious motivations had passed and the reasons were generally political or economic. Interesting that your family migrated again, internally.

    There’s a very interesting article somewhere about the impact of German political thought on QLD liberalism: focussed on education and statist action rather than rights. Keen to see your final product, researching these things for my daughters.

    Back to the Pope….

  163. Casey

    I don’t agree with your lack of democracy in the church thing, Liz. 1.2 billion people are not being held against their will. There is a reason they stay, and so I think my analogy holds. They choose it too. Or are you suggesting all the third world Catholics where the church continues to grow, are so indoctrinated they can’t make choices? Gay people might say to you that your choice to support Gillard enables homophobia. I think it holds.

    I have to think very carefully how to respond to your idea that to stay in the Church in light of the rape and abuse enacted by its officials enables rape culture. I don’t want to shoot from the hip there, because I think your point is a good one – a very good one. I am myself, like many of us here I am sure, a survivor, so the question of whether I am doing that is a hard one to answer without getting emotional. I will get back to you.

  164. paul burns

    The case you cite is shameful. But what is really disturbing about it, is that the woman presumably has no legal recourse to charge this guy have him investigated and if found guilty, jailed, presumably – I don’t know the detail of rape law – because, even though it is rape, she would have a hard time arguing it was not consensual sex. And it clearly wasn’t.
    Presumably, too, the victim is too distressed to pursue a prosecution anyway, and that is what he is counting on.
    Its up to this new pope to strip such priests of their ability to operate as priests, as he has apparently done to offenders in Argentina. But he should go further. He should make it mandatory for dioceses to refer such cases to the police and if police discover a prima facie case prosecution should follow, with appropriate penalties for the offender if found guilty.

  165. Liz

    Casey. I didn’t people had to leave the Church. I meant people had to stop worshipping at that specific church, St Francis in Lonsdale Street. Just find a better one to attend. Sorry if I hadn’t made that clear.

  166. Casey

    It’s still a good question. I have to think about it. I will get back to you.

  167. FDB

    Another reason that the Church/ALP analogy doesn’t work is that we are all legally obliged to vote, and in the end our vote will usually end up going to either the ALP or the LibNats on preferences. Preferring the ALP to the LibNats, after what might be quite a run of other preferences, needn’t involve faith. Or even loyalty. For me, it is basically a hold-your-nose-and-think-how-much-worse-Abbot-would-be proposition.

    If I may be so bold, I am guessing your relationship to the Church runs a little deeper than “well, I disagree with them on many things, and I’m actually Lutheran, but at least they’re not Satanists”.


  168. desipis

    Liz, I’m sure many if not most Catholics (particularly those commenting here) are frustrated and angered by the misogynist view of the church hierarchy and their seeming incompetence in managing dangerous members of the clergy. Yet it’s quite sensationalist to suggest that these aspects reflect the moral balance of church as a whole. Sure these things weigh heavily in the negative column on the moral balance sheet, but without a thorough look at all the other aspects and values of the church you can’t know the colour of the bottom line. Misogyny and rape culture might be important problems but they are not morally conclusive.

    As an outsider it’s going to be very challenging to fairly judge the church community as a whole, as your perspectives are going to be founded in the most egregious incidents that happen to make the news. Consider the concepts of stand-point theory and mansplaining. You’re coming into a thread on Catholicism and attempting to explain people’s faith to them.

    Most importantly you can’t know the value individuals place on their own faith, how they view that relative to any social justice concerns they might have or how their devotion to social justice values might be founded in that faith. Sure they might have trouble trying to rationalise with how the doctrines of the church are inconsistent with their own conclusions about their faith, but that doesn’t make it a simple matter of choosing one over the other.

    I was raised in a Catholic family and went through Catholic education, so I do have some insight into how the church is more than just the hierarchy and it’s doctrines. My main resentment towards the church stems from the relentless attempts at indoctrination throughout my childhood, despite the fact that religious faith was fundamentally incompatible with my philosophical perspectives. I’d use the term abuse if I didn’t consider it somewhat trivial compared to the experiences of others. Yet, despite this I have to acknowledge the catholic community seemed to have a generally positive impact on people and encourage generally ethical behaviour.

  169. Casey

    What do you mean?

  170. Casey

    I thought Amirite was a religion for a second there. Started looking it up and everyfing. Don’t confuse me, this is a stressful thread.

  171. Liz

    Casey. Yes, there’s 1.2 billion Catholics and I know they’re not being held against their will. But, they don’t get to vote for the Pope, or for any Church ‘policies’. Does the Church have policies? Is that the right word? I think you’re comparing apples and oranges, here.

  172. Liz

    And voting for a political party isn’t like belonging to a Church. If I had to vote for a religion, I’d vote for my dog.

  173. Casey

    Does the Church have policies?

    You could call the Nicene Creed a policy I suppose. The Sacraments, non core promises. Okay then, it’s not the vote that is the part of the analogy, it’s the loyalty to a leader or a party even when that party does things that upset you. Labor voters are just tribally loyal to the Labor party no matter what, they will always vote that way. That’s the analogy rather than the voting or not voting.

  174. Paul Norton

    One question that hasn’t been raised yet is whether Pope Francis I will allow the continuation of the practice of general absolution of AWU/SDA-aligned members of Queensland Young Labor for their recurring sins of dishonesty. 🙂

  175. Liz

    Oh jees, Paul Norton that’s way too difficult a question for me to answer.

  176. Lefty E

    To the extent that the Vatican is a state, its clearly an authoritarian one. But as I noted earlier, outside the City-State, control is sometimes rather attenuated in its colonies of faith.

    Some local Churches have gone “dont ask, dont tell” on issues like contraception. I realise thats not as good as the Pope issuing formal tolerance but again, its not just about the Pope in practice.

  177. FDB

    “it’s not the vote that is the part of the analogy, it’s the loyalty to a leader or a party even when that party does things that upset you”

    See my previous comment for why that part of the analogy also fails.

    Closer to the mark would be a comparison to sporting team allegiance. Why do I still support Fremantle, when they so frequently disappoint? The answer is similar though – because I love footy, and it’s more fun when you back a particular team, and it’s poor form to go changing teams every time you don’t make the finals, or lose to the Eagles.

    Again, I think (and certainly I hope) that your faith in the Church is of a different nature and magnitude to either picking the lesser of two evils (voting ALP) or sticking with a decision you made years ago out of sheer bloody-mindedness (supporting the Dockers).

  178. Brian

    Casey, Liz, to me an important point is that we can have principles and ideals, but real life is full of compromises. I have this problem all the time as a direct share investor. Wearing my theoretical hat I think that capitalism is intrinsically corrupt. In practical terms it comes down to where you draw the line.

    The problem as I see it for Catholics is that there isn’t an alternative service provider, just a choice as to where and to some extent how you access the service.

  179. Casey

    “well, I disagree with them on many things, and I’m actually Lutheran, but at least they’re not Satanists”.

    Actually I am not a practicing Catholic but I do have a faith and have most often gone to a Uniting Church to practice it, but culturally, I feel Catholic due to its roots being embedded in about at least 1500 years of Southern Italian peasantry or whatever. Also the first organisation to make contact with migrants and to begin to make them feel at home here in the 50s was in fact the Catholic church, if you were Catholic. Is that what you are asking? Or have you in fact detected, with your superior analytic skills, that I am in love with the local Parish Priest and am plotting to make him my own so therefore the church must allow priests to marry in order for me to succeed? Go on. Say that one.

  180. FDB

    As I said, I don’t really understand the basis of religious belief. So I kinda assumed there was something about adherence to a particular sect that I might need explained to me by someone in the know.

    But if you say so I will happily accept that it’s as simple as geography, culture, tradition. After all, these things aren’t really all that simple, and explain a lot of strange phenomena in the world.

  181. Mark Bahnisch

    A few quick comments, as I’ve been following the thread via email on my phone, so I’m sure I’ve missed a lot.

    I think there is some force to Casey’s analogy. Any feeling of loyalty to an institution requires faith and trust. It also requires a belief that things that might not be to one’s liking may change in the future. Mature decisions involve acceptance of compromise and not blind faith, but also do involve a fundamental leap of faith.

    The analogy is not exact, in part because it’s difficult to find exact analogies between religious and secular institutions, but also because no analogy can be exact. It’s the nature of the reasoning process. But I do think it has force.

    From my point of view, what needs to be understood about Catholicism is its vertical and horizontal dimensions. Unlike Protestantism, it is essential to the Catholic faith that it be practiced in communion with others – including through the consciousness of apostolic continuity over time. Thus, we are in communion not just with the Bishop of Rome (and I like the fact that Francis has adopted the habit of calling himself that rather than Pope) but also with all who have gone before us, right back to those who knew Christ. We believe they are saints in heaven, and are with us when we celebrate the Liturgy and embrace the “cloud of witnesses” through sacramental grace. Horizontally, Catholicism is unlike Protestantism in that it is a communion that needs instantiation in collective practice. It really is not the case that you can be a Catholic individually. Your faith must be lived in conjunction with others. We also believe that Christ comes to meet us, and never departs from us. Therefore, it is more than a human decision. The decision for faith is relational – it is a love expressed by the object of faith, Jesus Christ, who turns to us constantly and returns our love, faith and trust.

    Now, again, there is a difference between Protestant and Catholic ecclesiology. Luther looked to an “invisible Church” (as did Calvin more explicitly) – ie the communion of believers is known only to God (particularly where predestination is part of faith). In Catholic thought, the Church on earth is a pilgrim church, and there really is no separating it from its earthly incarnation. That’s precisely because our faith is incarnational – Jesus became flesh, became human, is like unto us in all but sin. We cannot avoid sin, and any human structure will be marked by sin, and indeed, though God forefend, evil. That places a responsibility on all of us as Catholics and people of faith to work for the Church’s purification and cleansing, and in the spirit of the OP, to walk alongside others, and listen to and empathise with them, and above all, to be just.

  182. Mark Bahnisch

    Ps – I’m conscious that might have been a poorly worded and hasty comment. I’ll try to return to this thread later on.

  183. paul of albury

    Mark, that community only exists through the organisation of the Roman Catholic Church? Is it that God has created the church, so you have to cope with whatever trials and tribulations occur within it rather than change allegiance to one different to the one created all those years ago?

    I think your explanation is helpful to me (for what that’s worth) but i still find it hard not to see a potentially separable human organisation with all its corrupt baggage. If this is wrapped up in faith, that you have no choice but to work within, I think I start to see the cognitive dissonance between Catholicism and us great unwashed.

    Thanks, this public soul searching can’t be easy.

  184. Liz

    FDB, I’m culturally South Melbourne, but as they no longer exist I changed my allegiance to St. KIlda. I do have a soft spot for Melbourne, because as a child I worshipped at the altar of St. Ron of Barassi. Weird, eh?

    I have a friend who exchanged Catholicism for Collingwood. I don’t know which is worse.

    But, my bewilderment about religious belief does remind me of soccer. Billions worship that too, and I just. don’t. get. it.

  185. paul burns

    Just quoting Mark a little bit.

    Christ comes to meet us, and never departs from us. Therefore, it is more than a human decision. The decision for faith is relational – it is a love expressed by the object of faith, Jesus Christ, who turns to us constantly and returns our love, faith and trust.

    Look, this is really true. I know some of you are going to think I’m a raving nutter, but when I was, without realising it, on my deathbed a year or more ago, which some of you may remember, when I went to confession I felt the touch of Christ lifting away all my sins, probably about fifty years of them and some of them, without going into detail, were pretty damn serious. Jesus knew I needed this because like St. Thomas, I wasn’t really going to start believing again without proof of his existence.
    Apart from that faith, and a commitment to celibacy which is not at all hard because of the medication I’m on, I’m very little different to what I was. Still a left wing socialist, still have a passion for social justice, still, even on occasion, send up or criticise the church.
    I don’t go to mass, but someone comes round and gives me communion every Sunday morning, after which we have a half an hour chat about religion. And once a month the priest comes round and gives me Extreme Unction, or whatever they call it now, because, theoretically, I could cark it at any moment so I always have to be prepared spiritually.
    Oh, and I don’t read tarot cards any more cause that’s worshipping false gods. I threw them out.
    So that’s my penny’s worth to this debate. You can believe it or not believe it. I don’t care.

  186. Casey

    I believe it. 🙂 And yet now that I’ve done one of them – it was you that brought back these yellow orbs of death as I recall. You had better tell the priest about that one.

  187. Mark

    Good on you Paul.

  188. Mark

    I am moved. Thank you for sharing.

  189. paul burns

    I think I sent them to Tony Abbott. He was doing something very un-Catholic at the time. 🙂

    No worries, Mark.

  190. faustusnotes

    Casey, I really don’t think you need to be beating yourself up over the possibility that your membership of the Catholic church constitutes enablement. Such an argument reduces the notion of “enablement” to nothing.

    For starters, no one in their right mind believes that ordinary members of the church endorse child abuse, and your membership of the church would only be useful as a rhetorical enabler of abuse if the elders of the church were using arguments like “our 1.2 billion members support abuse” or “our 1.2 billion members support our policies on abuse.” No one is making those arguments. But even if they did those arguments are transparently facile, and you can’t be enabling anything just by being enlisted as numerical support for a facile argument.

    I guess if the church were sending sensitive docs to your local priest and he asked you to burn them and you did that might count as something, but I’m guessing you haven’t done that. Instead, you publicly attack the policies of your church on a widely read and famous blog, and make clear a leftist alternative to the current hierarchical mess. That’s not enablement, and if anything your abandoning the church – by reducing the power of your arguments within it – could equally well be construed as “enablement” under this fanciful version of the word.

    Plus of course there’s only one catholic church. They’ve got you by the short and curlies. Your short and curlies being in someone else’s grip doesn’t make you an enabler, it makes them more powerful than you.

    I think this problem is an example of “enablement” being used as a rhetorical device rather than in its logical form. I don’t think there’s any point in beating yourself up over a rhetorical device.

  191. Casey

    Right, the question that was not asked, was: Does choosing to stay within the organisation of the Catholic Church make one an enabler of rape culture?

    I think, if they don’t get their act together regarding the sexual abuse of children and women, at some stage in the near future, I would come to the conclusion that the church is irretrievably broken.

    It was Frank Brennan himself on Lateline suggesting that it was time to look at why, in the figures coming out of the Victorian commission, the rates of abuse in the Catholic church were higher than the Anglican church.


    And this was the most interesting comment for me in that interview:

    : I was preaching in my parish in Canberra on Sunday and I told them the story: I’d been in Rome two years ago. I attended a meeting. I went across with two of my brother Jesuits from the United States. I attended a splendid concert that the Vatican put on and there was Pope Benedict and as the symphony played, an American priest turned to me and said, “That man beside the Pope, that’s Cardinal Law.” He said, “If he was back home, he’d been in jail.”

    I was very ashamed at that moment and I thought there is a structural problem, but it’s not in terms as you’ve discussed. I think it’s more the sort of unaccountable clericalism of a male celibate hierarchy and I think there are fundamental challenges for the Church in the 21st Century.

    So, for me, if ‘the unaccountable clericalism of the male celibate hierarchy’ as Brennan terms it, is not fixed in the next few years, then it would be stupid to stay connected in anyway after that for that could be indeed be seen to be enabling a culture of rape and abuse. That’s my view anyway. Others might still have hope beyond that but I wouldn’t.

  192. Paul Norton

    Paul B, I stopped being reflexively sceptical about claims of personal religious experience when my closest friend told me about her experience.

    The fact that you retained your left-wing socialist convictions is IMHO evidence that it was for real. 😉

  193. Paul Norton

    Mark @225, that’s the best explanation of Catholicism that I can recall reading.

  194. Casey

    I have a general question I’d be pleased if the athiests answered: Have any of you guys had supernatural experiences, you know, ghosts and things, and what did you make of them then? Just out of interest, not really part of the debate here.

  195. Casey

    er, perhaps on the overflow thread ….

  196. paul burns

    Paul Norton @ 235,
    Well, it blew me away, I can tell you. It was the last thing I expected.

  197. Paul Norton

    Does a witch flying out of one’s PC monitor count as a supernatural experience?

  198. Casey


  199. Mark

    Thanks Paul.

  200. Casey
  201. Mark

    Casey Frank is right.

    Francis needs to prune the vine.

  202. Liz

    Casey, I’d argue that in the Catholic Church, child sex abuse is a feature, not a bug. By this I mean the rate is so high in comparison to the general population that it becomes something more than a problem that can be changed. It’s just part of the system. Look at this.


    Des Cahill has estimated that at least 1 in 20, maybe up to 1 in 15 priests in Victoria and Tasmania, rape kids. It’s stark when it’s put like that. And that doesn’t count priests such as the case I linked to above, who rape adults.

    It concerns me when people argue that this is caused by celibacy because that comes perilously close to rape apologism, in my view. It implies that priests rape because they’re incredibly lonely and sexually frustrated. That’s too close to the discredited argument that men rape because of sexual arousal, or because they’re sexually frustrated. We know that’s not true. We know rape is about power and misogyny. For instance, we can read the police interview with the man who raped and killed Jill Meagher, in which he says he did it because he was angry with his girlfriend and then he got pissed off with Jill Meagher because she was rude to him. Nothing about sex there, at all.

    It could be child rapists gravitate to the Catholic Church because they know can get away with it there. It would be nice to think it could change, but it seems so entrenched in the culture, that I doubt it.

  203. paul burns

    Casey @ 243,
    I’d read it as a sign of nobody knowing what’s going on yet.
    I agree he has to send this Cardinal Law to Coventry pretty quickly, but it would be against Vatican or any other diplomatic protocol to display public uncivility.
    And then there was this emphasis on forgiveness at his first Sunday blessing. At the moment I have no idea what that is code for, if its code for anything. Does it apply to the offending clergy or all of us who are sinners (since we were born in Original Sin according to St. Augustine, not Jesus.) Jesus was pretty clear what should happen to paedophiles (and presumably those who cover for them.) You put a millstone round their neck and throw them into the pond. Sorry I can’t give chapter and verse there.
    For the moment we can only wait and pray in hope.

  204. Liz

    Casey @243. That’s what I mean. It’s a feature, not a bug.

  205. Paul Norton

    Des Cahill has estimated that at least 1 in 20, maybe up to 1 in 15 priests in Victoria and Tasmania, rape kids.

    How does that compare with estimates of the incidence of child sexual abuse among the adult population at large?

  206. Liz

    Well, here’s the transcript of Cahill’s evidence in which he says it’s much higher than in the general population. Frank Brennan, in the link Casey posted above, says it’s much higher than amongst the Anglican clergy.


  207. Paul Norton

    Paul B, a question that might be slightly off-topic but that you could be able to answer pretty quickly.

    In 1982 the CPA National Committee affirmed that Christians (and, by extension, all religious believers) could be party members. This decision was in response to a protest from one of the more traditional party centres at the admission of a Uniting Church activist to the party; the objection was (I think) on the grounds that religious believers could not be party members because members had to be Marxists and Marxism and religious belief were incompatible.

    What is the Socialist Alliance’s position on this issue? As I read the SA Constitution and Platform there would appear to be nothing preventing religious believers from being SA members.

  208. Casey

    Yes, indeed Mark.

  209. adrian

    Apart from agreeing with everything that Liz has written on this subject, I would like to point out that arguing about the rate of clerical abuse by clerics as opposed to the general population is missing the point by a considerable margin.

    The Catholic Church enjoys a privileged status in our society on a number of levels, and part of that status is a high level of trust and respect amongst those of the faith, and to some extent the broader community. The fact that so many of those entrusted to uphold this faith by the institution of the church, abused it in such a vile manner is indicative of the depraved nature of a significant number of priests, and the institution that systematically covered it up.

    Given the status of the church, the privileges it enjoys, and the values it preaches, the rate of sexual abuse should be virtually non-existent, certainly less than the general population of bloody sinners.

  210. faustusnotes

    I don’t believe the celibacy excuse for a moment. I think it’s reprehensible to claim that if men can’t get a root they will abuse children. Also, if priests are really finding their celibacy so burdensome they can try and play around with consenting adult men or women. In fact, many do.

  211. Liz

    Mark, Cahill’s figures translate to 5 – 7.5%, somewhat higher than 4 – 6%.

    About the issue as to whether it’s historical and the number of sexual abusers have gone down; he argues that’s true and lists a number of reasons why, such as fewer priests, more vigilant parents, fewer Catholic boarding schools and the collapse of the altar boy system. None of these reasons are about the Church actively doing anything to change the situation. Furthermore, he says this;

    “If I am correct, then the question becomes: is the phenomenon
    likely to reappear and increase in the short or
    longer term? My answer is a guarded yes. It will appear after several decades when the current crisis has receded into the past, because the underlying issues have not been addressed. ”

    Doesn’t give me a lot of faith.

    As to your argument re celibacy, that because there are misogynist Anglican priests and their rate of abuse is lower, than the cause could be celibacy. Well, it could be. But, it could be many other things as well. That’s rather speculative. I can think of a number of other reasons.

  212. Liz

    Adrian, I think the rate of child sexual abuse by priests will go down in the future, simply because a lot of parents won’t let their kids anywhere near a priest.

    In the report I linked to above, Cahill indicates abuse rates have gone down because priests have fewer opportunities to rape kids. Lovely, isn’t it?

  213. Katz


    In your terms Katz, the Self is a much easier prey for (intellectual) carcinogenic malformation than Hope will ever be.

    Perhaps true. But the trick is to avoid both.

  214. paul burns

    Paul Norton,
    They don’t have any problem with me. When I joined, yonks ago, one of the members was a born again Christian whose Xanity compelled him to leave, not the other way around. Another supporter of SA up here is a very devout Xtan.Mind you, apart from being a member I am absolutely inactive nowadays apart from having SA friends on Facebook, because of my health.

  215. desipis

    [email protected]:

    Have any of you guys had supernatural experiences, you know, ghosts and things, and what did you make of them then?

    I’ve had experiences that have, at the time, felt supernatural. It wasn’t so much a reasoned conclusion as just an overwhelming feeling that something had a mystical basis. On reflection it wasn’t too difficult to deduce a rational explanation for either the observations and/or feeling. It’s enough to give me pause before overly criticising faithful people purely for their faith in something supernatural. We’re all human after all.

    Reading Mark’s good explanation of the Catholic perspective @225 makes me wonder if being such a strong introvert as a child made me more resistant to such a communally orientated theology.

  216. Casey

    It implies that priests rape because they’re incredibly lonely and sexually frustrated. That’s too close to the discredited argument that men rape because of sexual arousal, or because they’re sexually frustrated.

    Look I didn’t like it either, but as you yourself have raised, what if people with serious sexual deviations choose the life of celibacy and the church to cover up the fact they can’ t have normal adult sexual relations? What if that is what is happening? And what if, in that choice, they are suddenly brought very close to the objects of their desire as well? They should get rid of celibacy. That is only a very recent change of heart for me, but I tend to think it is a cloak that now hides a multitude of sins.

  217. paul burns

    desipis @ 261,
    Na. I was an introvert and very devout up to about age 14. Never had me head out of a book. Hated communal sports -still do. If anything it made me more religious. I still don’t like being physically round lots of people.
    But my childhood religion was very different to what I experience now. I used to be quite obsessive – now its an integrated part of my life and doesn’t necessarily reflect on my non-spiritual activities. (Except when I get on a thread like this. 🙂 )

  218. Lefty E

    I have a general question I’d be pleased if the athiests answered: Have any of you guys had supernatural experiences, you know, ghosts and things, and what did you make of them then? Just out of interest, not really part of the debate here.

    Great question Casey, and the answer is yes. The house I grew up in was haunted – in the opinion of – oh, only everyone who ever lived there, until is was actually exorcised sometime in 1990s by my mother’s tenants, after she’d been transferred elsewhere as a teacher.

    Also, I felt my father around a lot in the first weeks after his death.

    What do I make of them? Humans are connected with each other, spiritually, and perhaps in other ways we cant know. I believe there’s a post-death process of farewell, in which most move on quickly, but some spirits or remnant energies get trapped.

    None if this makes me think they go anywhere in particular, or that there’s any power above us. They move on quickly, or occasionally they get stuck. I see no religious implications to that, to be honest. Whats far more interesting is the energies we possess going by the name of spirit.

    In sum, I have no doubt about the occasional ghost, but I think they’re an oppressed minority among the dead.

    To be honest, sometimes I drink heavily when Im in a new place to shut down my receptors, until Ive made my mutual accomodation with the other inhabitants. I can usual tell pretty quickly if there’s something else about. (Most houses dont have one, by the way).

    Bascially, I inherited all the feyness and none of the Cahtolicism of my Irish ancestors.

  219. Katz

    Answer to Casey: No. I’d like to flatter myself that if some numinous experience were to envelop me, I’d be one of the first to acknowledge it. But alas, all the uncanny presences in the cosmos appear to have actively shunned me.

    Is fluorodisation to blame?

  220. Casey

    To be honest, sometimes I drink heavily when Im in a new place to shut down my receptors, until Ive made my mutual accomodation with the other inhabitants. I can usual tell pretty quickly if there’s something else about.


    Honestly Lefty E, I’m not sure how you live with that. I’ve only had a few experiences and they were enough for me. Okay, so, let me clarify, do you think they are energies that have been trapped? Or maybe memories imprinted? What are they exactly do you think? You are an athiest so they are not in an afterlife right?

  221. Casey

    Yes, Katz, you’d be right. Its in the water.

  222. Casey

    Thanks for that explanation Desipis, I have always had an interest in what non believers made of these experiences which seem to be very common.

  223. Lefty E

    My view leads me to be quite sympathetic to indigenous spirutuality by the way. Its all about spirits and ancestors. That shit is real.

    Im not so keen on consequent attempts to build castles and hierarchies upon that insight. Which is essentially how I see organised religion: even most forms an animism and spirit- oriented relgions like Shintoism take it too far creatively, jumping the shark in the process.

  224. Liz

    Casey, I’d agree with what you have to say at 262. It goes to the hypothesis that the Catholic Church attracts paedophiles. After all, there’s a good chance you’ll be facilitated by being moved from parish to parish once your problem has been discovered.

    I haven’t had any experiences that are supernatural. The numinous whizzes past me.

  225. Lefty E

    Casey, like I say, I shut it down when Im in a new place until Ive done enough recon. Honestly, after six pints you could set me up in the Amityville house and Id sleep like a baby.

    To me, Atheism isnt at all incompatible with acknowledging certain forms of human energy that might be seen as an ‘afterlife’. Like I say, most move on quickly. A few unhappy presences get stuck. Ive never sensed a spirit that wasnt essentially trapped. Most want to disappear.

    Thus, I see ‘an afterlife’ as a pathology of sorts, not something to be desired. Though I would preclude from that the short farewells of the happy dead. I believe they normally travel once to farewell those they love, then move on. I find that comforting – both of them.

    I have a native american pyschologist friend who works with the dead a lot. He’s the only person I discuss this with in real life, as no one but he tends to experience the same.

    Welcome to my schizoid world of fey rationalism!

  226. Lefty E

    …as no one but he tends to experience the same.

    Actually, thats’s not true. I know others who experience the same, but I only discuss it with him because he tends to see it within the same context and paradigm I do, and the convo doesnt get too weird, or lead to silly stuff like Tarot, Ouija or crystals.

  227. Casey

    Really interesting Lefty E, thanks for that.

  228. Lefty E

    No worries Casey. Ive just got hip to the overflow thread deal too!

  229. desipis

    I thought the question about supernatural experiences was completely on topic for this thread the way it has evolved!

    I’ve always been fascinated at the variety of supernatural experiences that have been claimed as signs of God/Jesus/Mary/Saints/etc throughout the history of the Catholic/Christian world.

  230. Pavlov's Cat

    My view leads me to be quite sympathetic to indigenous spirutuality by the way. Its all about spirits and ancestors. That shit is real.

    Yep. There are some country roads that I drive on very, very carefully.

  231. Brian

    Mark @ 283, I wonder how many cardinals will be claimed to be sitting next to Bergoglio. On the BBC I heard that the bloke from Brazil was sitting next to him, and said, “Remember the poor!” when he won the ballot. This comment was said to have inspired Bergoglio to choose the name Francis.

    The Brazilian was also said to have suggested that the church should be saved from the clerics. Not quite sure what that meant.

    It was a panel discussion with three, as I recall. One said that the church needed to dump celibacy urgently and admit women to the priesthood so that it could recruit from a wider talent pool, in practical terms as well as on principle.

  232. Brian

    Casey and others, it’s not just about ghosts or trapped energies, or experiences created by one’s brain, as per the overflow thread. Quantum scientists talk about particles flicking in and out of existence. Where do they think they are when they are ‘out’ of existence? They have to be somewhere or they wouldn’t come back.

    Then there is ‘spooky action at a distance’ or quantum entanglement.

    I’m not sure we’ll ever work out what’s going on, but my best guess is that our phenomenal world is nested in another reality where time/space does not exist. Also I suspect there is more interpenetration of those realities than we’ve realised to date.

  233. Lefty E

    Well put Brian. One might alternately observe that, for all its undoubted benefits to humanity, social science/ scientific training operates to narrow certain perception: training oneself to discount certain types of perception in favour of others. A kind of learned suggestability toward perceving the more easily rationalised.

    Not that its a bad thing!

    Pav, yep. Some places have bad juju. Unfinished business.

    One only has to imagine a third wave of settlers here with no idea at all theyre traipsing over our cemeteries.

  234. Brian

    Mark @ 225 that was a superb statement. It was one that I was hoping for and the content did not surprise. It did, however, exceed my expectations.

    I hope you don’t mind if I suggest that if people want to understand the nature of intersubjectivity and the constitution of the privatised subjectivity within a primary social field they might look at your treatment of Merleau-Ponty in your thesis. But to be fair they should read the first 8 chapters as a preamble.

    I’ve been thinking about Lutheran pietism lately. Its strength seems to be in the individual’s dignity and worth before God. It sees potential in everyone and contrasts, I suspect, with Zygmunt Bauman’s notion of the ‘undeserving poor’ in English society, who are effectively punished for being what they are.

    For Lutherans the congregation is important, as is the notion of a ‘confessional faith’, that is, every Lutheran shares the main doctrines espoused by Luther.

    These lateral and vertical connections do not seem to have the existential force you describe, however. Perhaps I’m beginning to understand what my friend who is a German Lutheran pastor meant when we described the inside of the Jesuit church in Koblenz and their evident mission to the poor and he replied, “Yes, but it’s still a different kind of spirituality!”

    Another concept that seems relevant is the notion of history from Jewish thought via, I think, Walter Benjamin. As I understand it the past and the present are all of a piece and capable of redemption some time in the future.

    These are strange concepts, but I think it’s good to let them in and play with them in our thinking.

    To end in a somewhat Continental philosophical manner, I would hope that atheists see that religious faith is not just the adoption of some optional beliefs, rather it is a way of being (and becoming) in the world.

  235. Justin

    Mark, funnily enough everything you said about a (necessary) community across time and space is held by my Uniting Church too. Words to that effect also appear in the communion/Eucharistic prayers of the Anglican, Uniting and Lutheran churches.

    I do think it’s emphasized more in the Catholic church, but it’s there in the mainline Protestant tradition too.

    About half my congregation are ex-Catholics, including my wife and (sort of) myself. It is possible to make the switch. I’m not trying to suggest you should but it’s not as difficult as many struggling Catholics assume.

    Having said that, everything Pope Francis has said and done so far has filled me with joy. I’m steeling myself for the coming ‘Obama deflation’ but for now it’s just nice to hear a Pope say “oh how I wish for a church that is poor and for the poor!”

  236. alfred venison
  237. adrian

    Actually, it sickens me that this morally corrupt institution that in any other context would be shut down, continues to receive state and corporate media endorsement as though nothing has bloody well happened.

    And those contributing to the self congratulatory, often flippant tone that is developing here, might try watching this documentary if you’ve got the stomach for a bit of reality: Silence In The House Of God:Mea Maxima Culpa.

  238. adrian

    And just wait until Abbott becomes PM and the RC is quietly abandoned or downgraded.

    The victims were never of any concern to the church or its enablers, and that’s not going to change with the election of the new pope.