Archive for the ‘pope francis’ category

Astonishing But Who Cares?

July 6, 2016

Archbishop Charles Chaput has issued a clarification (for the Philadelphia Diocese) intended to make clear what Pope Francis’ “Amoris Laetitia” actual means. The publication issued in April 2016 was intended to deal with how the church deals with divorced couples, GLBTs, and unwed cohabitants. “Amoris Laetitia” which means the Joys of Love in Latin was billed at the time as the Pope’s attempt to urge Church officials to find room to welcome those living in “non-traditional” relationships. Hmmm.

Chaput said, as if still thinking he can get the red hat with tough conservative language (which would have work well with Pope Francis’ two predecessors), in effect, “no way, no how”.

First, Chaput made clear that divorced couples, unmarried couples, and same sex couples are living in unnatural relationships. A nice way to welcome some who might otherwise believe. Second, Chaput said that these groups could only receive church blessings if they were now abstaining from sexual relations. Hmmm.

So, Chaput has said, these groups are somehow lesser persons but if they persist in wanting to practice Catholicism, there must be no sex. I wonder what part of sex the Archbishop doesn’t understand?

 

Disclaimer. The Catholic Church is a private institution and as such can have whatever discriminatory rules that it wishes, just like the Elks Club, private Golf Clubs or Professional Organizations. The only god in these matters is the “marketing god” which in time will measure whether parishioners still put enough money in the Church’s baskets. If they do, Chaput and people like him will keep their jobs if not thrive. If the money dries up, the Catholic Church will finally step back and look at what their “man-made laws” are really doing.

Feet talk on matters such as this. Shame on the Archbishop.

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Pope Francis, Are You Listening?

February 28, 2016

This week Archbishop Robert J, Carlson came down hard on the Girl Scouts. Mostly 10 and under girls apparently represent a threat to Catholic dogma. According to archdiocese press releases, the girl scouts are following a policy of “inclusion”. Hmmm.

Why would the Catholic Church at this point in world knowledge and public opinion try to swim up stream? The veiled enemy Archbishop Carlson is worried about is the full acceptance of gay and transgender people. The Church apparently does not see gays and transgender people as a normal segment of the population, fully deserving of recognition and in no way the proper target of ridicule.

The Saint Louis Archdiocese like leaders of many other conservative US Catholic dioceses thinks the road to a red hat is still by being more Rome than Rome. Pope Francis, however, given his performance to date, would never pick a fight with young girls, nor most likely pick a fight with adults over an issue of supporting Girl Scouts. The Saint Louis diocese seems tone deaf.

Being a private organization, the Catholic Church is, of course, free to support Girl Scouts or not. But in a world where wholesome activities are hard to find for our young people, choosing to denounce Girl Scouting because their national leadership embraces all young girls regardless of their sexual orientation or that of their parents is very troubling.  Are these church officials still stuck in grove of “nurture or nature”?

I wonder whether Pope Francis is listening?

The Catholic Disease

February 15, 2016

Pope Francis is visiting Mexico and has taken the opportunity to speak out about the scourges of the Mexican drug cartels and the poverty brought on by Mexico’s income inequality. The Pope has clearly identified two great curses with which Mexico finds itself.  As usual, Pope Francis smiles and then speaks from his heart what everyone could see but acts if it were not there.

The Pope, however, did not speak out on the dangers of the Zika virus.

Speaking out on the latest world health threat, however, was Bishop Leonardo Ulrich Steiner speaking in Brazil. The good Bishop reaffirmed the Catholic Church position on birth control, “no way, no how”. The Bishop recommended abstinence or the infamous “rhythm method” as the most appropriate methods to guard against transmitting Zika virus through sexual contact. Hmmm.

This advice is reminiscent of Pope Benedict’s advice to the faithful in AIDS infested central Africa, “condoms are against church teachings”. And the science (or even Biblical teachings) are what?

Unlike most religious teachings which impact only the faithful, the lack of safe sex and family planning advice endangers the lives of many more, especially those who can barely take care of themselves. The Catholic Church’s position on safe sex and family planning in the 21st century is nothing short of shameful.

Given Pope Francis’ public speeches one is left with the impression he clearly recognizes the hypocrisy and inherent danger surrounding the church’s condemnation of family planning and safe sex. One must assume Pope Francis has just been to busy to take on the Bishop Steiners of this world.

Hmmm.

Saying What You Mean

October 1, 2015

There is a familiar expression which goes, “Say what you mean, mean what you say”. Recent Washington events can put some dimensions around this saying. The events were the Pope’s visit, Representative Mike McCarthy’s comments on Benghazi, and the GOP’s perspective on the Russian entry into Syria.

1. The Pope’s visit was a smashing success for Washington, New York, and Philadelphia. The Pope’s use of symbolism to emphasize the importance of humility, tending to the poor, and acceptance of all people was moving. In carefully crafted language the Pope verbally communicated what he tried to symbolize, and, also carefully alluded to catholic dogma which most Americans find less acceptable.

Namely, the Pope gave no room for a greater role for women in the Catholic Church, nor did the Pope offer hope for a more sensible approach to family planning, and the Pope omitted any direct reference for an equal place in life for the GLBT community. The Pope said this by not saying anything to the contrary.

But wait, we now have heard that the Pope met privately with Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for contempt for denying marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. In an eerily similar move to transferring a priest accused of child abuse or paying hush money to victims on the basis of them dropping criminal charges, the church once again tried to have it both ways.  The Pope kept speaking about the sanctity of all persons while his conservative handlers orchestrated a private meeting endorsing Davis’ actions.

Clearly child abuse is a human problem and not restricted to the celebrant church officials. Being opposed to birth control or abortion are matters of conscience and these beliefs can be widely held. The Catholic Church stepped out of bounds when it supported the suppression of information on criminal activity (presumably to not tarnish the church’s reputation) and now when it supports illegal actions (Davis refusal to issue licenses) to advance the church’s faith based beliefs.

Meeting openly with Kim Davis is one issue, not meeting with women’s groups or members of GLBT groups sends an equally clear message about the still broken planks in the church’s efforts to represent itself as a modern church.

2. Representative Mike McCarthy has declared his intentions to seek the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives. The Speakers job goes to someone who is a GOP leader and well informed on GOP strategy.  In comments to Fox News, McCarthy committed an unforced error by speaking the truth. When asked to name some accomplishments of the GOP controlled House, McCarthy cited the Benghazi select committee. McCarthy attributed the drop in Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers as a direct consequent of the GOP lead investigation and proof of its accomplishment.

For anyone with a heart beat, the investigation’s purpose has been clear for a long time. For McCarthy to utter this confirmation is amazing (for telling the truth) and completely a political mistake for admitting what was patently obvious. It should be no wonder why public opinion polls of Congress register so low.

3. In the murky Syrian situation, so many Republican politicians and GOP Presidential hopefuls are weighing in on “President Obama’s failed policies”. Each one of these critics decry the President’s policies of limited involvement but also cling to the notion that troops on the ground are not necessary. “The US is not acting, Russia is”, they spout. “Our allies will begin to forsake the US and turn to Russia”, the political rhetoric goes. Hmmm.

There is no question that Syria has become a humanitarian tragedy. But if Iraq has taught anything, it is that American idealism is sorely misplaced as the foundation of a Middle East strategy. There is no Russian idealism and doing what is necessary to keep Assad in power is all that is necessary.  (Like with Afghanistan when Russia invaded and was eventually defeated, Syria is equally a bed Russia will not like to sleep in.)

If the GOP really is interested in ending the Syrian turmoil and defeating ISIS, there must be honesty about what it would take. Nothing less than another Iraq type invasion and occupation with most likely a subsequent redefinition of regional boundaries would be necessary. All of this would need to be supported by a US draft and imposition of war taxes. (I wonder whether Mike McCarthy would admit that too?)

Pope’s Congressional Speech

September 25, 2015

Pope Francis gave a wonderfully crafted speech to assembled Congressional members and guests yesterday. The Pope spoke broadly yet delivered targeted messages on individual freedoms and collective responsibility, especially those towards leaving the next generation with a livable planet.

Speaking passionately about the dignity of all men and the importance of family (clearly including women), the Pope was silent on the GLBT community. For sure, his measure of human respect seemed applicable  to all including GLBT.  He just didn’t call them by name. What was missing was recognition that GLBT humans were fully worthy of an unencumbered and respectful place within the Catholic Church. In other words, the Pope neither stated openly nor inferred any change in Catholic dogma which considers the GLBT community as engaging in aberrant behavior.

The Pope also spoke to the sanctity of life. He made a passionate reference urging Congress to those seeking a new home (immigrants) and called for law makers to respect life at all stages of development.

Pro-lifers cheered interpreting the Pope’s comments as an anti-abortion position. The Pope most likely did mean this but also said all countries should end the death penalty which most hard right legislators do not accept.

At the most optimistic perspective, the Pope’s speech was a signal that church dogma would relook at the extremes of “respecting all humans” and the “sanctity of life”.

Homosexuality has been long a taboo within the Catholic Church dogma. “Unnatural” is often used to describe homosexuality and “traditional” family is the code for man-woman family units. With scientific studies showing homosexuality as well as gender assignments being matters of nature and not the result of nurture, it becomes more difficult every day for Catholics to accept Church teaching on homosexuality and for clergy to maintain intellectual honesty claiming something which is quite normal to not be. How can the church preach the need for mankind to respect each other (and not make war or abandon the poor) while at the same time singling out that some are different that the rest?

The Pope also has his work cut out to examine the extremes of “sanctity of life”. At the older end of life, “death with dignity” is a growing preference for many. Church teachings absolutely ban such actions in which someone voluntarily ends ones life.

Someone choosing suicide at age 25 simply because they were despondent seems unwarranted and should not be accepted by society. But what about someone who has lived a full life and is suffering from some terminal disease? Is keeping someone alive when they are heavily medicated and incapable of making any life decisions humane?

The Pope singled out the “death penalty” as a practice society should end. This seems a reasonable wish since the death penalty has never been shown to be a deterrent to crime. But let’s not stop there.  What about war? What about the protection of the civilian, noncombatant population?

The opposite extreme of life is pregnancy, birth, and early life. The church has made clear its positions that sexual intercourse has purpose only in creating life. Accordingly, sex for the pleasure of sex is not recognized by the Church. And should an unwanted pregnancy occur, this pregnancy must be seen through to birth no matter what. Hmmm.

The modern church regrettably has knowledge of contraception and how it can be successfully used in family planning. In the case of an unwanted pregnancy, there also exists safe methods to end the pregnancy and still hold open the option for children later in life.

The “pro-choice” and “pro-life” groups differ mostly around when life begins. Pro-choice advocates emphasize “viability”, that is the fetus can survive if taken from the womb. Pro-life advocates cite “conception” as the beginning of life regardless that there are estimates that more than half of all conceptions are naturally aborted.  This is when an abortion is not an abortion.

More troubling abortions occur when fetuses are genetically damaged or physically deformed. Is it ethical or morally correct to abort these fetuses. The Catholic Church is clear, no way, no how. Hmmm.  Who should care for these poor souls, if they survive birth and the mother is unable?

So the Pope’s homework with respect to sanctity of life and dignity of man demands a relook at contraception and homosexuality. Contraception brings the means of preventing unwanted pregnancies. Homosexuality and gender identity appear now to be based upon nature and no acquired preference. With the modern world more aware of what’s going on around them, these church dogmas which diverts markedly from reality (take what they say on faith), may lead the masses to not hear the Pope’s other important messages.

Pope Francis’s Congressional speech was a message Congress badly needed to hear. While the speech may have fallen upon deaf ears, the message was also appropriate for his clergy and the population at large.

The speech will live on as a great speech should the Pope find a way to address the gapping gaps in logic surrounding contraception and homosexuality.

What’s The Difference Between New York City and Philadelphia?

July 29, 2015

Philadelphia is a grand city well known for its role in history. Our Country can be traced to Philadelphia for starters. Sports teams, the symphony orchestra, universities, and museums rank among the best in the nation. So why the question about comparing Philadelphia to New York City?

The Pope is coming and with the Pope, lots of people, that’s why.

Pope Francis will visit Philadelphia on September 25 and 26. The Pope will also visit Washington and New York City too. While both of those cities will certainly want to put their best foot forward, the Pontiff’s visit is no big deal. Washington and NYC are used to foreign dignitaries of all types caravanning through town. But not Philadelphia.

Philadelphia enjoys large tourist crowds through out the year.  The question is how large is “large”/   The local tourist bureau estimates that on average 100,000 or so visitors come to the city each day. That’s a lot of people but is about one tenth or one twentieth the number anticipated to visit Philadelphia during the Pope’s visit. Hmmm.

City officials are clearly panicked over the prospect of crowd control, emergency services, and public conveniences. Subway access will be limited to those holding a lottery pass.  This will limit the use of public transportation to those lucky few. Officials have hinted at wide areas of street closures and even wider swatches of no parking. Many Philadelphians, however, have seen this visit as an opportunity to rent their home or apartment and make some money. Hmmm.

Philadelphia is much more like Boston as large cities go. Both are relatively small compared to NYC and feature residences snuggled along side of major tourist attractions. After business hours, Philadelphia becomes a “bedroom” community while New York remains alive 7/24.

It is possible that city officials are making too much of “what can go wrong” possibilities but better safe than sorry, I suppose.

For my money, I think I will just go to Baltimore and escape the crowds.

The Pope’s Words – Close But Wide Of The Mark

January 16, 2015

Pope Francis spoke yesterday about the tragedies at Charlie Hebdo and the Kosher market. His common sense message was quite simple… if you insult someone else, don’t be surprised if the other person smacks you in the nose… The Pope’s words were meant to ease the tension while still condemning the murders that took place. The Pope emphasized that killing anyone in god’s name was simply wrong. Hmmm.

The Charlie Hedbo incident is far more complex than one might think. Most everyone would find fault in the use of deadly force to rectify an insult… but to many, especially those from tribal communities, honor killings are an accepted part of life. It’s not so long ago that such events took place in the US too. Remember Arron Burr and Alexander Hamilton?

But Charlie Hebdo is much more the righting an honor grievance.   This incident exposes what constitutes free speech. In America, most anything goes in public discourse. In Europe, however, many countries have enacted “hate speech” laws which make it illegal to “incite” racial hatred. Recognizing Europe’s past, one can understand why they might choose to limit free speech.

The publication, Charlie Hebdo, has no sacred cows, all religions, governments, and political parties are subject to cartoons when they acted hypocritically. So is calling a group out for hypocrisy an insult or just treatment?

Holding the Koran or Allah as unmentionable when some people committing terroristic or just plain sadistic acts do so under the false justification that the Koran or Allah, himself, welcome these acts, is just plain ridiculous. Depicting this hypocrisy seems quite in order.

Charlie also has lambasted Israel and Judaism. The conduct of the Palestinian-Israel conflict has provided many opportunities to call into question Israel’s real intents, ample material for cartoons. Consider this recent event.   While many of the world’s leaders were marching arm in arm in Paris this week, the inspirational photo got a little touch up in an orthodox Israeli newspaper. The picture the rest of the world saw which included who were actual in the march was “photo-shopped” and all women, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, were removed. The Israeli newspaper published an all male picture.

Hmmm.

The Pope and the catholic church have found themselves in number of hypocritical situations. The church’s death grip man made rules (they call dogma) acts as if these policies were divine in origin.  This dysfunctional behavior has set up many contradictions. Women, homosexuals, and all too often those who are not catholic have been set up situation which deserved to be called out for obvious hypocrisy.

We should remember that there are in each generation anarchistic behavior. ISIS, al Qaeda, and those responsible for the recent murders in Paris were principally anarchists. Their goal has its foundation on overthrow of the established order. Nothing more, nothing less.

Free speech, however, is a far more important principle than the Pope’s remarks would indicate. All major religions, if sheltered from free speech criticism would head rapidly back to the dark ages. They would seek conditions which ensured their control over enough people to maintain their bureaucratic structure.

Free speech has other enemies too. Just think about what life would be like if the George W Bush Administration had been able to suppress the facts surround the invasion and occupation of Iraq, for example. If Bush (or Dick Cheney) had been able to write the Iraq war history without a secular free press, what do you think the public would be told?

Free speech comes with responsibilities too. Slander, incitement to riot, and use of surrogate targets (like ridiculing a politicians uninvolved family in order to attack the politician) are generally out of bounds and inconsistent with free speech.

The Pope’s words suggested the free press, like Charlie Hebdo, should lay off criticizing Islam (and by extension, Judaism, Christianity, etc).

I think the Pope was wide of the mark.