Posts Tagged 'Catholic Church'

How Can Women Stay Catholic?

I’m sorry about the rare posting lately, July has proven to be a crazy month. I bought a house so I’m packing up the apartment, looking for new tenants for our old place, I’m also in a wedding party for a wedding next week, going camping with the fam soon and getting ready for a trip to Europe next month. So I think I’m excused for my poor attendance on my blog lately!

What prompted me to write today was a post on Friendly Atheist. You may have heard about this recent news out of the Catholic Church:

The Vatican today made the “attempted ordination” of women one of the gravest crimes under church law, putting it in the same category as clerical sex abuse of minors, heresy and schism.

The new rules, which have been sent to bishops around the world, apply equally to Catholic women who agree to a ceremony of ordination and to the bishop who conducts it. Both would be excommunicated. Since the Vatican does not accept that women can become priests, it does not recognise the outcome of any such ceremony.

I want to talk about the question (more like a questatement) that Hemant Mehta posed on his blog post in regards to this news:  “I really want to know why any self-respecting women would remain in a Church that treats them so poorly.”

It’s an interesting thing to think about, and I’m sure a lot of atheists would have a hard time seeing why any person would remain in the Catholic Church even before these new rules came out. I know I express all the time my incredulity at anyone who stays in any religion. But really, for most of my life I was religious, and there are billions of people out there who have no problem belonging to religions that tell them they’re worthless without their god of choice.

So why is it that people will go on believing in a religion that has so little respect for them?

Here’s the comment I posted on the Friendly Atheist post:

When I was a Catholic I accepted that as a woman I was inherently inferior to men due to Eve’s mistake. Stupid, I know…but if other Catholic women think like I did then they’re not self-respecting women, so the Church’s declaration would probably just be swallowed like all the other bullshit the Church dishes out.

I want to elaborate a little on that because it got me thinking back into the mindset I had when I had no problem accepting such a harsh doctrine.

Growing up my parents never pigeonholed us into gender roles. My brother played with Barbies and I played with Hot Wheels and they never discouraged us from doing non-girly or non-boyish things. So where did this idea come from that I’m inherently inferior to men? I think it started when I was in highschool and I became friends with a couple of evangelical Christians. We had our spares together, and my friend would bring her Bible and we would discuss various topics of interest to Christians. I only had a passive interest in my Bible until she started telling me about this and that inspirational story, and that’s when I started really looking at the thing (of course I looked selectively like a true Christian would, see the post on my childhood Bible).

I think that once you allow yourself to be immersed in the culture of Christianity it’s only natural to start to believe things like abortion is always wrong, homosexuality is a sin, women should stay in their place, etc. I believed that the Bible was true, and I believed that God was good and loving. I also bought into that crap about humans being sinners who need to repent. I believed that all humans had to pay for the mistakes of Adam and Eve, and somehow it didn’t cross my mind that God was at fault for putting the apple in the garden to begin with. And of course, I believed that Jesus would save me from my sinful ways.

I remember once telling someone…I can’t remember who it was, or what we were discussing…I think I was telling someone why I believed feminism is stupid, and my reasoning was Eve ate the apple and that’s why women have the joy of menstruation and that’s why our job is to serve men. Women have to pay for her mistake, too bad, so sad. I have no idea if that’s really what the Bible said, but it was enough that it seemed like something that the Bible would say, because it was nice to have a pat answer.

Christianity was easy. It had black and white responses for almost everything. Rather than delving into the complicated ethics of abortion, I could just refer back to “thou shalt not kill.” I think that’s a large part of what drew me to the religion. I thought I had all the answers, and I felt like I was in on the secret to everlasting life in heaven. It’s a nice feeling provided your thoughts don’t drift to those poor souls who haven’t heard the good news.

Okay I’d better get back to the topic, which is why Catholic women stay in a church that treats them like second-class citizens. When you’re a part of a church you generally buy into the idea that you’re a sinner, and that this church has the answers you need to gain entry to heaven. The problems that exist in the world are caused by the evils of humans rather than of God. You trust the church leaders because they speak with authority, they’ve studied the religion all their lives, they must know what God wants you to do.

Once you’ve accepted this then it’s in your best interest to act how your church wants you to act. When I went to church on a regular basis with my family, I revered our priest. I felt like when he shook my hand or handed me the sacrament that I was getting a special gift from a holy person. I trusted that what he taught was the truth, and I thought that all churches were probably like mine because what I was being taught just seemed to make sense.

It’s hard for outsiders to see why someone would associate themselves with an organization that, it seems, is always in the news for the horrible things it says and does. But when you’re indoctrinated to believe that you’re a worthless sinner, you don’t have self-respect, and you go along with what the Church wants you to do because that’s the way to be saved from your horrible self. Although it may seem from the outside that women shouldn’t belong to an organization that has so little respect for them, that’s just the harsh reality that the believer accepts. You believe that the Church has your best interests at heart, and that when they say something like “the ordination of women is a crime,” they’re really just trying to save the souls of would-be female priests.

“The Pope is an Evil, Disgusting Piece of Garbage” -Me

So a little while ago when all of the news started coming out linking the current Pope to cover-ups of sex abuse in the Catholic Church, I posted “the Pope is an evil, disgusting piece of garbage” as my Facebook status.

A little while after that I got a response from my mom, who expressed her opinion that she didn’t think that name-calling fit in with my new philosophy of reason and critical thought. She said that I would have gotten farther with explaining where I was coming from, and that a dialogue would have been more constructive rather than typing words that might put people on the defensive.

I thought about it for a bit, and this was my response to her:

I guess I was pretty angry when I wrote that, as I had just heard about how the Pope was (allegedly) involved in a cover up  of a priest who had raped 200 deaf boys, so that’s where I was coming from when I wrote that. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/25/world/europe/25vatican.html

But actually I’m not sure I would take it back now that I think about it…If I were involved in as many awful things as the Pope has been since he became the Pope and before that, I would expect people to call me much worse names.

He hasn’t been convicted of anything in the court of law, but it would be nice if he had to face consequences for the most recent scandal, in which a letter surfaced signed by him that explained that he wouldn’t defrock a convicted pedophile priest because he was looking out for the interests of the church: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/vaticancityandholysee/7573321/Text-of-1985-letter-from-future-Pope-Benedict-on-California-sex-abuse.html

Other more concrete examples of the Pope’s evilness:
-Opposing gay equality laws in the UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/feb/01/pope-condemns-british-equality-bill
-Spreads lies about condoms and AIDS in AIDS-ravaged areas http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/17/pope-africa-condoms-aids (the Pope is said to be infallible, but he he spreads lies that cause poor people to have children they can’t afford at the same time as condemning abortion, and that contribute to the spread of AIDS)

So although maybe I didn’t express my feelings in the best way in that Facebook comment, I honestly can’t say I feel bad about calling the Pope those things. He’s in a position that makes him trusted and respected by millions of Catholics, but he hasn’t earned that respect. He’s supposed to set a moral example, and before he was Pope he was still a church leader so his career should have been characterized by thinking about morality, yet time and time again he rejects reality in favour of doing the wrong thing as long as it conforms to the Catholic Church Dogma. And the worst part is that since he’s got that whole religion thing going on, people will allow him to spew nonsense, and he’ll never be held accountable for the consequences of his words and actions.

I try not to call names, but people have this unjustified respect for the Pope, so by calling him names on Facebook I’m protesting the idea that he should be shown respect by default because he’s a religious leader, and showing explicitly that he doesn’t have my respect.

I want to add a couple of things. The first is that I do often post links to stories that are damning for the Church, but I think this was one of the times where I just wanted to express frustration and didn’t bother attaching a link that supported my thoughts. And second, I grew up belonging to a Catholic Church and called myself a Catholic throughout my life until recently, so although my experience in my Church was a positive one, part of my goal in putting down the Catholic Church on my Facebook wall is to distance myself from the organization.

So what do you think? Am I putting people in a defensive position with regards to the Pope or the Church? Is it sometimes effective just to name-call? What do you think is the most constructive way to express an opinion like anger at the Pope in a social medium like Facebook or Twitter?

Debate – The Catholic Church is a Force for Good in the World

I’m going to start this post by going off topic…

I love Stephen Fry. Until recently I didn’t know who he was, and then I started watching his In America series and was captivated by his curiosity and enthusiasm for everything. I was so sad once the series ended, but maybe he’ll do In Canada next!

stephenfry

Enough gushing…I heard that Fry was in this debate on the topic of whether or not the Catholic Church is a force for good in the world (pfft!), and I couldn’t wait to see it because I’m such a big fan of him, as well as of Christopher Hitchens, who would both be debating against the motion that the Catholic Church is a force for good…and also Stephen Fry tweeted this adorable tweet right before the debate:

Nervous as a kitten. Got to take part in a debate on the RC Church. Me and C Hitchens facing Anne Widdecombe +1 Don’t know why I’m so nervy.10:48 AM Oct 19th from Tweetie

(follow him @stephenfry or me @EnlightningLinZ)

The debate was on October 19th, but it was just recently put on YouTube so now you can watch it here:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

You can read my thoughts on the debate after the jump (spoiler alert!)…But first, the opening vote from the people in attendance:

Motion: The Catholic Church is a Force for Good in the World
For: 678
Against: 1,102
Undecided:  346

Continue reading ‘Debate – The Catholic Church is a Force for Good in the World’

Yo…the Pope’s Album Drops November 30th

From the label that brought you Nirvana and Guns N’ Roses, Pope Benedict XVI, yes that Pope, will be releasing an album in November.

His album, Alma Mater, will be a mixture of singing and speaking…so sorta like Kanye?

I’m sure he’s hoping to chart:

In 1982, John Paul II reached number 71 in the charts with The Pilgrim Pope, and, in 1994, his recording of The Rosary peaked at number 50.

Pope Benedict

Proceeds from the album will be used to provide music education to underpriveledged children…somehow I think that education will include indoctrination, but hey, maybe I’m just being cynical.

PM Stephen Harper Pockets Communion Wafer…Maybe

Look what showed up first on my Google news today:

Wafer

The silliness of the religious never ceases to amaze me. The Prime Minister may or may not have eaten a communion wafer at the funeral of a former governer-general. Maybe he was uncomfortable partaking in this cannibalistic ritual? Seriously, who cares what happened to the wafer. Nobody really thinks it’s the flesh of Christ, do they?

Well apparantly some do. A high ranking church official is demanding to know whether or not it was consumed. His spokesperson says yes. I say who the hell cares?!?!?! I bet the Prime Minister gets shit from all kinds of kooks every day, but the kooks giving him shit this time are part of one of Canada’s most widespread religion means that his people have to waste their precious time reassuring the public that yes, Harper ate his cracker.

Bill Donahue Belittles Irish Catholic Church Abuses to Victim of Priestly Rape…

…and keeps digging his hole deeper.

Have a listen for yourself, if you can stomach it.

Part I & Part II


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