The Two Faces Of The Catholic Church.

One of its faces is that of the Popes.  We see the Popes doing a mass or riding in the Popemobile, smiling, waving and, in general, projecting affection and humbleness.  There are the steady stream of press releases portraying Popes as blessing some down- troddened group or warmly hosting world leaders.

Priests project a similar persona.  The ones I have known are likable, friendly and gregarious.

There is another face of the Catholic Church.  This other one is almost not a face at all, but  an iron fist.   It’s the institutional Church.

This latter face is not humble at all.  It projects power and arrogance. There is no tolerance of anything that challenges its authority or theology.

The  Catholic Church does not want to be seen as just another non profit.  Instead, it sees itself as more important than any other organization on the face of the globe.

The problem with these two faces is that one is putting smudge marks on the other.  The arrogance and lack of accountability allowed sex crimes to be not reported to law enforcement.  Arrogance meant the problem must be handled internally.

The smiling and humble face of its clergy is now not as trusted and loved.  Its ham-handed efforts to defeat President Obama and align itself with the Republican party put its clergy on the opposite side of the majority of its members.

A new Pope is an opportunity for a more humble organization.  Both faces could appear smiling and humble.

46 Responses

  1. Henry

    Due to my circumstances, I run into a lot of Catholic clergy. All I have encountered are fair and upright. I can’t think of one who has given me a bad impression or a feeling of concern. Are there some rotten eggs? Absolutely. However, I think they have done some housecleaning in recent years.

    The sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy is repeated ad nauseum by the atheist. The severity of the problen does not appear to be of the magnitude they portray.

    P.S. I am not Catholic.

      1. Stanta

        How about the whole school staff cleared out of California grade school because the sexual attacks were so prevelant they didn’t know where to start investigating?

        1. entech

          Again and again I ask – what does other peoples failings have to do with those of the church.

          The Catholic Church is not the only place it happens, who knows perhaps not even the worst. They seem to be the best at covering up the worst part of the coverup is the many RECORDED cases of priests simply being transferred out of the line of fire and being free to offend again.

          A local case just this last week, in the midst of an inquiry (much wider in scope than just the church) a priest, guilty and self confessed of abuse against a disabled female parishioner that lasted 14 years was just put back into a local church as priest, there was uproar from the family of the poor lady, the member of the hierarchy defended the decision saying that he had apologised and was repentant, 14 years of abused a life ruined and I am sorry is enough. Some people are demonstrably unfit, a much higher standard is expected of the representatives of God on earth.

          The basic unforgivable aspect is the fact, shown time and again, that the hierarchy do not recognise it as a failure as probably the most egregious sin, holding on to the good name of the church at all costs.

          School teachers and anyone acting in loco parentis, in any position of authority is absolutely wrong in taking advantage especially of children. They should all be removed from those positions, in fact, Stan, instead of trying to share it around you should be trying help all these (should be ex-) priests in your prison job.

          1. Stanta

            Never run into an ex-priest in prison, the actual occurrence of abuse is way below the normal and I hope new policies will cut them further.

          2. entech

            None in prison? perhaps none that you have met but they are there. Perhaps not some many because the cover up is so effective!


            New policies should be to eliminate them entirely, not simply cut them. It has happened in many institutions, don’t deny or minimise it – end it.

            Here is another one, this from my own Church of England (ex actually)

          1. entech

            OK. I can see now what you meant. How about some proof that all of those school teachers were atheists, or even that one of them was.

            Spreading it around does not wipe it clean.

        1. Brad

          Sorry, I actually misread it. I took it to mean that the sexual abuse was being repeated, rather than the reports of sexual abuse.

          In any case, I don’t think atheists repeat these reports of abuse any more than anyone else (except the Catholic church of course, who seem to be more interested in sweeping it under the rug).

    1. Henry 1:37 “repeated ad nauseum by the atheist.”

      That’s just funny. There is a new story on every couple of days. I can guarantee you there is not one atheist on the CP staff.

      1. Henry

        Jon, as you present it, you have a biggoted view against a group of people that are suffering your wrath for what a super minority within their group have done. Suffer your wrath on those found guilty. That might work better.

        You weren’t one of those people back during the 1960’s civil rights movement that held an entire race of people guilty for the crimes of a few? That is certainly in the same vein as your behavior today. I understand people change over time, so maybe that wasn’t the case.

        1. Henry 1:12 “Jon, as you present it, you have a biggoted view against a group of people that are suffereing your wrath for what a super minority..have done.”

          I believe that should read, “ I chose to interpret..” because it is not what I wrote. I clearly stated the institution of the Catholic Church. Neither you nor I is Catholic, but we know it is not a democratic institution. It’s clergy are certainly a minority of Catholics, but they are the institution.

    2. entech

      I sometimes doubt you are even a Christian, certainly not the love and peace variety. Sure you are not an undercover agent for the WBC?

      Sweeping under the rug does not constitute good housekeeping.

      PS. I condemn it wherever it happens, Christian, Jews, Muslims, secular government institutions.

      1. Henry

        entech: “I sometimes doubt you are even a Christian, certainly not the love and peace variety.”

        Like you would be a good judge of that!

  2. Brad

    George Carlin said it best – “…and speaking of the Catholics, which I was until I reached the age of reason….”

  3. And Brad, please know that there’s a trait in the fundie/conservative world that when they say ‘it’, ‘it’ becomes fact. In this case, ‘it’ is athiests abuse more kids.


    Pay no attention to the man behind the blog icon.

  4. Michael Ross

    “There is another face of the Catholic Church. This other one is almost not a face at all, but an iron fist. It’s the institutional Church.”

    Too much authority at the top. We agree on that, Jon.

    Get rid of the Pope, cardinals, and bishops. Local church under the leadership of the priest. Get rid of the unbiblical requirement of singleness and celibacy Being single and celibit in service of the Lord is legitimate but voluntary. Being married does not disqualify one for any ministry. The apostle Paul made the case for singleness in service and ministry. He was the missionary apostle and was on the road for most of his ministry. His ministry did not lend itself to married life. This doctrine just asks for trouble. If a man is not interested in women, be a priest. Other men around if you have homo tendencies . Young boys if you have interest in them. Get rid of centralized authority and back to localized, and the biblical pattern. Biblical mandates overrules church tradition.

    1. entech

      Michael, I think your remarks applies to all organised religion. There is not one that has not shown an abusive side when in a position of power and authority; Thomas Jefferson’s famous letter was to assure one group of protection against the power of another and George III had to prevent the Puritans from hanging Quakers.

  5. entech

    The sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy is repeated ad nauseum by the atheist. Presuming more meant reported rather than repeated, I can see where Brad could have misunderstood your intent. It is actually the priesthood that has repeated the offense to the point of making everyone sick. Not all atheists keep on about it surely, we often get accused of painting with a broad-brush: the broadest brush of all is probably any statement that includes “by the atheist”, or, “according to the atheist” and so on. It is almost as if some people want to project the blame onto the messenger, as Jon points out @ 3:29 the main source of his information is the Christian Post which has new stories at regular intervals. Projection is something the anti-atheist is very good at, can’t seem to make up the mind is original sin the source of all badness in the world or is it because not everyone believes in your god.

    The severity of the problen does not appear to be of the magnitude they portray. This is one of the truest statements on the subject and bears testimony to the very effective campaign of cover up. The practise has been going on for so long that they should be good at it by now.

    Reporting sexual abuse is not entirely a bad thing, it takes attention away from all the other long standing abuses perpetrated and the influence exerted on government, such as:

    That sufficient influence can be found in government to gain government assistance in such atrocities is a very strong case for increasing the separation of church and state.

    1. Henry

      Old news. 1977. And you are projecting our standards of today onto how society conducted itself in the early 20th century.

      It may be beneficial today to send some kids to a place of good clean work. Now, we have the coddled nintendoo generation, our current standard.

      1. Brad

        “Now, we have the coddled nintendoo generation, our current standard.”

        Promoted by that great free market system we have where companies have a vested interest in seeing a generation of kids fixated on the technology they make money selling (while they have this junk manufactured in cheap labor havens like China).

      2. entech

        The committee found a wide range of reasons women and girls entered the 10 religious run laundries operating in the State between 1922 and 1996. 1996 is not 1977, same old Henry any way to excuse something,truth doesn’t matter. If it was 2, 10 or 20 years ago it still happened the government and the Church collaborated in what was effectively slave labour.

        To your antiquated way of thinking we should bring back the lash, that would bring the little things back in line, or perhaps Deuteronomy 21 would have something applicable.

        1. Henry

          entech: “1996 is not 1977”

          Ok. My mistake. Still old news. That was about the timeframe Billy was frequently brought pizzas to the office by a young lass in a blue dress. She would have done well to bring her clothing to a Catholic laundry. That is ancient history.

          entech: “we should bring back the lash”

          I don’t think your idea is good. As far as we know, the laundries were good, clean work for the young lasses. They probably didn’t need a lash as you suggested.

          1. entech

            Oh my Henry, if I were to say that the crucifiction was old news and we could forget it and move on as you seem to suggest I don’t think you would be quite so flippant.

            You are disgusting in trying to brush this all off as old news, Church operated and government sanctioned slavery is just that. Of course Christianity has long history of doing things for peoples own good, burning at the stake comes to mind.
            Further you are being very dishonest suggesting that my idea is flogging:
            I don’t think your idea is good. As far as we know, the laundries were good, clean work for the young lasses. They probably didn’t need a lash as you suggested. </i. No sir, that is an outright lie on your part, my actual words To your antiquated way of thinking we should bring back the lash, not even you can distort things that much.

            Back to your opening statement:
            The sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy is repeated ad nauseum by the atheist. The severity of the problen does not appear to be of the magnitude they portray.
            You got that quite wrong the problem is that it should read quite simply:
            The sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy is repeated ad nauseum and continually denied and covered up.

            Perhaps when that no longer happens it won’t be in the papers so much and won’t be copied to the blog.

          2. Henry

            entech: “No sir, that is an outright lie on your part, my actual words To your antiquated way of thinking we should bring back the lash, not even you can distort things that much.”

            Just paying you back for your original aspersion, that I think we should bring back the lash. Your assertion is unfounded.

          3. entech

            Does that mean that we each attribute extremes to the other?
            I admit it it quite happily, hyperbole is something I am often guilty of, one way to make a point. One way to get someone to consider that there is a possible other viewpoint or answer.
            Your talk of payback indicates that you too admit to exaggeration for effect. I feel some progress is being made.

  6. Rwag

    Jon, your thinking doesn’t seem to be very free for a “Free Thinker”. Seems you are trapped into thinking only about religion. Is that all a Free Thinker does? For something you don’t believe in you sure write about it a lot. Do you ever write about Unicorns?

    1. Rwag 12:01 Thanks for the first-time comment.

      “Do you ever write about Unicorns?”
      I don’t write about them, but they are like religion in this way. There is the same amount of evidence for unicorns as there is for a god. That doesn’t mean they never existed, just no evidence.

      1. entech

        The only subjects that seem to get any interest is sex related sin and guns; so it would be pretty lonely if you talked about unicorns.

        1. Henry

          I have heard Jon talk extensively about these topics, particularly sex. I haven’t heard so much about either in a church setting.

          1. entech

            Perhaps that is why you keep coming back with your provocative commentary.
            Perhaps this site provides something you miss and need? 🙄

    2. Jeffrey Eide

      Rwag, if there were people who built a political system and view around the believed existence of unicorns, if people were trying to teach about unicorns in school, it people certifying themselves as unicorn experts were trying to expose young minds to believe, if unicorn experts were traveling the world and telling citizens of developing countries lies to promote their agenda, such as condoms are not effective, or promoting unicorn creationism…..

      IF UNICORNS occupied any ONE of the many aspects of society that religion does, then yes, I do believe unicorns would be on Jon’s mind. As it stands, only religion corrupts good and honest people into these ideas, and as a fellow freethinker, I can say there is ONE subject which shocks me daily.

      I can not open the paper, or watch the news without seeing another theocratic encroachment on free society… So yes, Jon is justified in bringing it up so often, because almost every other topic he writes about stems back to religious problems.

      If he DID write about unicorns, people would say he was wasting his time. If people kept their religion to themselves, there would be no need for these blogs.

  7. Rwag

    Jon and Jeffrey, Though I may disagree, I truly understand what you say about religion and I guess my attempt at humor failed with the unicorn comment. My main question was about the “Free” in Freethinker. You both seem quite intelligent, are well spoken and could probably offer opinions on other topics. You seem trapped into only thinking about something that you say doesn’t even exist. Must be frustrating.

    1. Jeffrey Eide

      Thank you Rwag, your ability to see another’s perspective is most appreciated. Of course, sarcasm never works well on the internet… but I have to say, I have heard that question before, in that case, they were serious.

      When I organize freethinker gatherings in other countries, I had in my mind something similar to what you are thinking about. In the gatherings, there was no taboo topics, and people could feel free and open to discuss any idea. In almost every circumstance, there was no problem, but when it came to religion and traditions, things changed.

      One reason religion is accentuated is perhaps the desire to desensitize people to the idea of discussing ideas rationally and defend beliefs with more than faith. In other words, to not let it rise above the rest of the topics, as it so often does.

      A second reason is the inherent censorship often imposed on people about it, and although free speech is something of a treasure provided by the constitution, many countries do not provide that protection, where people are beaten, maimed, or killed because of the topic.

      Finally, you can not get into some of the biggest issues of today, overpopulation, climate change, abortion, education, etc. without getting past people’s religiously motivated stances. Even politics is divided with an almost party-based religiosity, bordering on insanity, and other countries look on with despair.

      So yes, I do feel the need to accentuate religion and mystical beliefs above all else, but we also need to talk about the quacks in alternative medicine, debunking new age mumbo jumbo, or ~rational, evidence-based~ politics. Baby steps, for the Fargo/Moorhead community….baby steps.

    2. Rway 11:15 “You seem trapped into only thinking about something you say doesn’t even exist.”

      I think I can speak for most atheists when I say there are still unanswered questions about the origin of the universe. So, it must be admitted, one of perhaps dozens or hundreds of explanations about where the universe came from is a super natural being. All of us are very open minded to explanations that have been advanced to answer these questions. There has not yet been an answer with evidence that can be varified through science. Perhaps the explanation with the least testable evidence is the super natural one. Yet, the questions remain so we are not yet in a position to rule out any completely.

      As far as you accusation that we, “are trapped”, I can only offer this. If you were to go into thousands of back pages of discussion here, you would find many posts about this topic. I have asked believers if they are open minded to the possibility the universe was not created by a superior being. I have yet to have one, even one, agree they could consider this. I would ask you if you believe it is at least possible the universe was not created by a superior being?

      Your last sentence, slightly snarky, is, “Must be frustrating”. Are you open minded to the no-god possibility? If you are not, are you “frustrated” at your closed mindedness?

      1. entech

        Jon, not too many answers missing about the origin of the universe, Michael is forever giving us websites that tell us all about how it was all created, Henry is pretty outspoken on the subject too. As for unicorns there aren’t any left when they were on the Ark the dinosaurs ate them (actually this is hidden knowledge only available to those in the know, the gnostic ones.
        Hope I am open minded enough to consider these possibilities, I have tried and I think I was almost convinced by religious instruction at school when I was about 12, finding it more difficult since. One problem is that if you open your mind far enough then the natural brains drop out and leave room for the super natural.

        Trapped is a bit different, usually when they can’t understand how we fail to accept their ideas they say we are “bound”.

      2. Rwag

        I intended nothing snarky in my comments. I regret that it was interpreted that way. Again, I’m not a writer and believe I was misinterpreted.

        I am most comfortable in my beliefs and enjoy reading about others and respect theirs. I haven’t tried to push mine on anyone. I just think it would be most frustrating to feel the need to try and prove something doesn’t exist. I’m not frustrated because I have no need to prove to anyone that God does exist.

        I now regret that I commented and am slightly offended at being called closed minded. I didn’t comment to pick a fight. I’ll just keep reading. Sorry for the hassle.

        1. Rwag 7:13 “believe I was misinterpreted.”

          I apologize for misinterpreting your view. I’m glad you are interested in different ideas–that is what this site is here for.

          In retrospect, I guess I was thrown off by your statement nonbelievers might be frustrated needed to prove something invisible does not exist. I have an inability to fathom why we have any need “to prove something does not exist”. The proof something exists lies with those who make the assertion something invisible exists. The only obligation we feel is to ask for evidence of this invisible whatever. So far, believers have been unable to do this. A believer in invisible gods and holy ghosts, it would seem, faces a much more frustrating task.

          Having said that, we have no particular interest in what others believe as long as they do not push these beliefs into our government. Those who do such things as advocate a religious view of when life begins, advertise religion on public property or at public meetings, etc. need to be reminded of our Constitution.

          I would encourage you to continue to add your comments.

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