Thursday, March 15, 2007

Pope goes the weasel

From the New York Times:

"Pope Says Catholic Politicians Must Back Church’s Doctrine
Published: March 13, 2007
BOLOGNA, Italy, March 13 — Pope Benedict XVI strongly reasserted Tuesday the church’s opposition to abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage, saying that Roman Catholic politicians were “especially” obligated to defend the church’s stance in their public duties.
“These values are nonnegotiable,” the pope wrote in a 130-page “apostolic exhortation” issued in Rome that represents a distillation of opinion from a worldwide meeting of bishops at the Vatican in 2005."

Call me crazy, but someone's forgetting to render unto Caesar. I'm all for religious tolerance but I absolutely reject this attempt to rule from the pulpit. As a very lapsed Catholic, I see little difference between this "exhortation" and calls for sharia. Both are attempts to usurp the rule of law with the rule of "god". All of history shows us that the rule of god is sorely misused when placed in the hands of men. This amounts to little more than spiritual blackmail.

I'm not at all a fan of Popes. I doubt Christ would have thought much of a bejewelled man in a gown being declared his personal ambassador. I doubt Christ would have approved of a massively powerful, centralized hierarchy taking ownership of his words and message. If His Popishness wants to write laws for nations around the world, I suggest he might drag his cult out of the middle ages and into the 21st century. He's welcome to dictate to the citizens of Popistan but my Canada is off limits.

Nobody's going to hire me to blog their campaign and nothing compels me to tread softly. The Catholic Church has a very long history of dark deeds. The Church has an endless supply of gall, attempting to dictate morals and values. This is the organization that gave the world such hits as the Children's Crusade, Auto de Fe and everyone's favourite, serial pedophiles and associated cover ups.

In the interest of disclosure, my experience with the Church was very negative. I don't much care what uniform you wear, hurting children makes you a sick fuck. I was never diddled but I was repeatedly struck and humiliated by nuns and a teacher in the Catholic school I attended before shifting over to the public system.

Also, in the interest of fairness, the vast majority of Catholics are good and decent people, like my mom. Catholic charities around the world have done and continue to do great works. People of the Catholic faith generally try to do good. Like peoples of every faith. But where power collects, corruption is sure to follow.

“Consequently, Catholic politicians and legislators, conscious of their grave responsibility before society, must feel particularly bound, on the basis of a properly formed conscience, to introduce laws inspired by values grounded in human nature,” the pope wrote."

If Pope Benny wants to bind Catholic politicians to dogma, I'm thinking that they should be disqualified from high office in Canada. This is a secular nation made up of a wide variety of people with various beliefs. Canadian politicians are elected to office to serve all of the Canadian public. They are duty bound to honour that public trust. A politician's church should not dictate policy. That is a breach of trust. That is a conflict of interest. The ominous undertone is that failure to bow to doctrine might lead to spiritual repercussions. That is anti-democratic and Canadians deserve better.

The presumption then, is that the Bishops would get to do all of the dirty work of trying to influence politicians with the threat of excommunication. That is no better than extortion and it has no place in a free and democratic society.


Ti-Guy said...

It galls me intensely that, in the recent threats and actual instances of excommunication, the Church is targeting elected officials because, they, unlike everyone else, are compelled to state their views publicly. It's nothing short of psychological and sadistic persecution.

I don't have a much of a problem watching the Catholic Church slide into irrelevance. What I am concerned with is that, as people abandon established churches, they flee to the charlatan evangelical churches and various fundy cults, which are even worse.

thwap said...

Perhaps his holeiness would rather that Catholics who cannot respect the standards of the majority and still stay true to his edicts simply decide to stay out of politics.

And leave it to the heathens and atheists.

That's really the only option, realistically.

Niles said...

Would Catholic Bishops/priests doing as dictated hazard the non-profit standing of their church in Canada? Or does that only count if they're pitching for/against specific politicians and parties?

I seem to recall this was the big anti-Kennedy as presidential candidate polemic, that a Catholic politician would have to answer to the Pope, a foreign power. Nice to see the RCC move the accusation to plain fact.

aweb said...

"...failure to bow to doctrine might lead to spiritual repercussions"- well yeah, you have been to church I take it? That's pretty much the as we say or burn in hell.

Makes sense to me...if you want to be Catholic, you have to, you know, act Catholic, according to catholic rules, all the time. Those are the rules of the game they play. I think all religions should demand that people follow the rules strictly or get out. The fewer religious people the better. The less likely people are to vote for religious people the better.

There is no extortion here, because what is someone being threatened with? Removal from a club. Ooooh, look out. You'll burn in hell for all eternity? If people took that one seriously, they wouldn't act against doctrine in the first place. The vast majority of people are "good people", with or without religion.

M@ said...

Actually, aweb, I don't think the church can just say you aren't a Catholic, once you're baptized, unless you're excommunicated. There is plenty of dissent within the Catholic church -- devout people who want contraception, female priests, etc etc.

The funny thing is how the church tries to make it sound like there is no dissent, and that the pope's rule is law. And plenty of people -- and many "journalists" pick up on it and repeat it like good little robots. Dance, puppets, dance.