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OMG! The Pope Is … Catholic?!

Leading the New York Times website now [1]:

MAN IN THE NEWS

Argentine Pope Will Make History, but Backs Vatican Line
By EMILY SCHMALL and LARRY ROHTER 9:09 PM ET

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, to be called Francis, will break ground as a Jesuit and Latin American. But his views on gay marriage, abortion and other issues make him a conventional choice to lead the church.

No it doesn’t, you dog-bites-man simpletons. IT MAKES HIM A CATHOLIC CHOICE! Arrgh!

The Messiah will return before the MSM learn not to be surprised that the Pope is a Catholic, and that basic Catholic doctrine does not change with a new papacy.

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80 Comments To "OMG! The Pope Is … Catholic?!"

#1 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On March 14, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

[Note from Rod: Do you really think that the election of a pope is of no more importance than the death of a Methodist bishop (or an Orthodox patriarch, for that matter)? Good thing you aren’t running newsrooms, Siarlys; that would be atrocious news judgment. — RD]

I suppose the News Media is striving for objectivity and given that there are 1.2 billion Catholics versus 12 million Methodists, the Pope is more news worthy because of raw numbers.

But only about 22% of the US population is Catholic and an even smaller segment would be considered devout weekly Mass sort of Catholic. So this isn’t “we interrupt this broadcast” news to most US residents.

#2 Comment By Don Quijote On March 14, 2013 @ 1:18 pm

Apparently you think the Church should try to fill their pews by bending their doctrines to whatever is popular?

They can keep doing what they are doing and watch their entire flock disappear or they could start dealing with reality:

A) Let priest marry.
B) Stop fighting contraception, particularly within married couples.
C) Accept the fact that using condoms prevents disease and not condemn people to hell for using them. (It only took them 10 years and lord knows how many dead bodies for it to do that in Africa)

@ Stegman
So basically you are filling up half a dozen churches on Sunday morning and leaving the other 90 either half or three quarter empty and calling it a success. Keep up the good work…

Actually, Don Quixote, seminaries that stress doctrinal orthodoxy and reverent liturgy are bursting at the seams, and young women are flocking to join more traditional, habit-wearing orders.

Yeah, that’s working out so well that [2]

Keep up the good work and in another 30 years there won’t be a Roman Catholic Church in North America,

#3 Comment By Charles Cosimano On March 14, 2013 @ 1:42 pm

Siarlys does give voice to the resentment that many non-Catholics, especially those who fail to see the Papacy as a great historic joke, feel about the coverage given. Yes, it is a big story. But no, it is not really an important one, certainly far less important that budget negotiations, albeit a lot sexier when not downright hilarious.

It’s sort of on the level of a royal wedding. It provides entertainment for folks who like that sort of thing but not worthy of being considered all that serious. That is how non-Catholics probably view it, certainly it is how I view it.

Now, folks in newsrooms probably feel the same, certainly the ones who are not Catholic do. It’s just a story and it’s a story with all kinds of entertaining and bizarre visuals, like the costumes and the cowering choirboys wondering if JP the Creepy has climbed out of his coffin. It’s fluff, pure and simple, but they have to pretend that it isn’t. And they have to do a balancing act, keep the Catholic viewers happy without enraging the non-Catholics whom after a certain point start to resent all the furrin nonsense. And, on occasion, if you pay attention, someone on the air will actually say, in effect but not in these words, “Yes, we know all you non-Catholics think that this is bullcrap, but it doesn’t happen very often and it’s sort of fun to cover.”

But it is also important to recognize, that to Americans, just how unimportant the Pope really is. He wears funny clothes and says things that get lots of coverage but no one really cares about and is hemmed in by bureaucrats that will probably poison him if he tries to control them. In other words, an oddly costumed irrelevancy that makes good press but not really very significant to us.

So he will draw crouds and poor Ross Douthat will piddle with joy at his every word, but he won’t mean very much and he won’t, in the end, matter at all.

#4 Comment By Richard M On March 14, 2013 @ 1:44 pm

Don Quijote,

How is it working out for the Church? All the pews filled on Sunday? New Churches being built left and right? The seminaries bursting at the seams? Women joining the Orders?

Traditionalist seminaries, such as the FSSP, are bursting at the seams, Don.

And more traditional women’s orders like the Ann Arbor and Nashville Dominicans are not lacking for vocations. In fact, they’ve run out of room at their convents.

#5 Comment By Ampersand On March 14, 2013 @ 1:49 pm

“The NYT will probably one day call for an atheist pope, to keep the church “modern”, and will not see any logical problem with such a call.”

Considering that an anti-government party wants to run the American government, I don’t see any problem with it. I’d gladly be the first atheist Pope!

#6 Comment By Richard M On March 14, 2013 @ 1:49 pm

Hello Charles,

He may be the first genuinely anti-US Pope since the time of Pius X (otherwise known as Pius the Mad)…

I’ve heard St. Pius X called many things, but never “the Mad” before.

But I don’t question that there are lots of American Catholics who are more American than Catholic. Not all of us, to be sure, but a lot.

#7 Comment By Richard M On March 14, 2013 @ 2:07 pm

Charles Curtis,

But then, I’ll say it for the record: the idea that those clowns push, “save the liturgy, save the world,” is a heaping load of steaming crap.

No, it’s not.

Perhaps you misunderstood what it’s about?

I’ve met far to many insufferable reactionary jerks (both Catholic and Orthodox) spewing such nonsense now to believe it.

There are plenty of insufferable jerks in the Church. Many of them are progressives. It’s not unique to any one part of the theological spectrum. Or even to Catholicism.

#8 Comment By J On March 14, 2013 @ 2:18 pm

Seems a P.C. code enforcement attitude on your part to me, Rod. Unlike you NYT writers don’t assume that their readers, or Catholics at large, or Americans at large, regard orthodox Catholicism as normative. Didn’t you just post the Pew polling which showed that only about 1/3 of selfidentifying American Catholics support orthodox doctrine, and even less their bishops?

#9 Comment By grumpy realist On March 14, 2013 @ 2:32 pm

Well, considering that it took the Catholic Church over 200 years to admit that what it did to Galileo was A Bad Thing, I’m not holding my breath for any changes on the Catholic Church’s line on women and gays. From the outside view of a non-Christian, the kerfluffle about trads vs. non-trads comes off as a bunch of people arguing about the correct way to fold dinner napkins.

I predict much amusement and even more ink spilled.

#10 Comment By MG On March 14, 2013 @ 2:51 pm

The “MSM” hates religion. Rod is convinced of this, and finds evidence of this hatred every where he looks.

Rod: “The Messiah will return before the MSM learn not to be surprised that the Pope is a Catholic, and that basic Catholic doctrine does not change with a new papacy.”

Really? Then what are the “Traditionalists” (in the post preceding this one) so displeased about?:

“(T)hey say he was hostile to the traditional Latin mass in his archdiocese. But that’s not the whole thing…Of all the unthinkable candidates, Jorge Mario Bergoglio is perhaps the worst. Not because he openly professes doctrines against the faith and morals, but because, judging from his work as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, faith and moral seem to have been irrelevant to him.”

[3]

The Catholic faith – like all faiths – changes exactly as much – or exactly as little – as the faithful themselves change.

#11 Comment By JonF On March 14, 2013 @ 6:29 pm

Well, the radicals hate him and the reactionaries hate him. I’m almost persuaded he must be right for the job.

#12 Comment By BCaldwell On March 14, 2013 @ 6:32 pm

Ah yes, the Pope is not hanging out on the Upper West Side or in Georgetown with all of the other “smart” people. How incredibly obtuse of him and his organization, why if he would only see the societal evolution that we have been able to accomplish in “progressive” societies, then he would not have a problem with abortion and contraception on demand- he’d see it as a way to free man from unnecessary consequences of his/her behavior. I mean come on, we all know that families come in all shapes and sizes and no one model is any better than any other…in fact some of the newer models have proven to be possibly better than some of the traditional ones…there are statistics and studies that bare this out and if they don’t , well, they weren’t conducted properly anyway . Yes, the Catholic Church NEEDS to abandon 2000 years of consistent thought on the institution of marriage because a small but very loud minority of people believe that it should and they have money so you better listen.

It’s so scandalous and let not forget to throw in “hateful” that this Pope would be so…CATHOLIC!!!

#13 Comment By BCaldwell On March 14, 2013 @ 6:50 pm

“It’s like the traditional Islamic Mullahs and their rules on women”

But the NYT would be afraid of offending Muslims because, well, you know, they get crazy when you question or disrespect their religion. But the Catholics, they’re OK, they can take it…it’s not like they try to kill people who disagree with them or expose their transgressions like the other guys do…

#14 Comment By bones On March 14, 2013 @ 7:37 pm

Don Quijote, I guess the response to your comments/recommendations is that the Church in Europe and North America effectively did exactly what you prescribe. Talk to a priest, circa 1967 all the way to 2005, and you more than likely have been told that contraception was OK in your personal situation, that yes your divorce can be morphed into an annulment, and that don’t worry the Church will adjust its dogmas anytime now. Yet people still lapsed out in large numbers, just as Episcopalians, Methodists and Presbyterians lapsed out even though their Churches officially embraced the very changes you suggest.

#15 Comment By JonF On March 14, 2013 @ 9:35 pm

Siarlys, MH et al,

There are far, far fewer British (Canadian, etc) subjects in the US than there are Catholics. But I feel rather certain that when dear old Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Mountbatten-Windsor departs to dwell in the halls of her ancestors the US news media (and not just that in Detroit and Buffalo) will hawk it as front page news, as if 1776 never happened.

#16 Comment By David J. White On March 14, 2013 @ 9:40 pm

Well, considering that it took the Catholic Church over 200 years to admit that what it did to Galileo was A Bad Thing

The fact that the Catholic Church is very far from being anti-science is pretty much proven by the fact that, after more than 400 years, anti-Catholic bigots keep trotting out the Galileo case. Because that’s the only one they can point to. (And the Galileo situation was more complicated than the anti-Catholic caricature generally presented, but that’s another issue.)

#17 Comment By Erin Manning On March 14, 2013 @ 9:52 pm

Siarlys, I consider LarryD a friend, and know well your absolute hatred for the Catholic Church–so that’s all I will say to you here.

Charles Curtis: Amen! I’ve been on a similar journey, and reached a similar place. The liturgy is supposed to help us to salvation, not the other way around.

Don Quijote: your A/B/C points are completely wrong. Letting married men be priests (not letting priests marry, which isn’t a tradition even in the East) is not a panacea or a fix, and the ones who are likely to be loudest about that are married former Episcopal (or other) priests who have become Catholic and been permitted to be ordained. The Church doesn’t “make” contraception sinful by saying it is: it is intrinsically evil, and nothing the Church can ever do will change that. Which is why your “C” is also wrong: it is the nature of using a condom that under the usual conditions (full knowledge, sufficient reflection) it is a mortal sin to do so. Someone who is already committing a mortal sin involving unmarried sex acts is indeed also adding the sin of condom use to that act, but hey, if the three conditions (grave matter, full knowledge, sufficient reflection) are met, he’s already probably going to Hell–which is why the pope emeritus said that in somebody already so depraved, the fact that he might want to keep from giving his paying client or casual hookup a deadly disease might be the first glimmerings of a not-totally-dead conscience, and we should work with that–which is not even remotely the same thing as saying it’s okay to use condoms when you are already engaged in hellishly sinful acts. But people who worship sex don’t understand any of this: Sex Without Consequences is their only religion and orgasms their only gods, so why should they care what the Church thinks?

#18 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On March 14, 2013 @ 9:54 pm

JonF, probably true because the US news media gets pretty goofy about the royal family. Anything to move the product.

#19 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 14, 2013 @ 10:47 pm

Do you really think that the election of a pope is of no more importance than the death of a Methodist bishop (or an Orthodox patriarch, for that matter)? Good thing you aren’t running newsrooms, Siarlys; that would be atrocious news judgment. — RD

I think the election of a Pope is of relevance only to those who are, or think of themselves as, members of the Roman Catholic Church, just as the death of a Methodist bishop is of real concern only to members of whichever Methodist denomination he belonged to.

The rhetorical question “How many divisions does the Pope have?” is a bit on the mechanical side… there is such a thing as moral suasion after all… but its not entirely inappropriate. If I hear someone crying “habemus papem” I would reply, yes, YOU do. Now if fifty million Catholic readers are waiting to hear all about it, sure, run what sells copies, but its really not a matter of great significance. My world would be not different if there were no Pope at all.

I would consider the election or death of an Orthodox patriarch to be AT LEAST as significant as that of a Bishop of Rome. After all, the schism between the two revolves in great part about the pretensions of Rome to primacy, and on that point, I believe the patriarchs have the better argument. Still, I believe the Mennonite claim that their form of organization is closest to that of the early church.

[Note from Rod: I wouldn’t think that, and I’m Orthodox. There is no figure in Orthodoxy, or any other branch of Christianity, who holds the same kind of office and stature at the Roman pontiff. I don’t follow him, but I recognize the singular importance of the Petrine office. — RD]

#20 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 14, 2013 @ 10:55 pm

JonF, I missed your comment until after I responded to Rod’s, which was above the 50 horizon. I have no doubt you are right about the prognosticated news coverage when the old Queen bites the dust. Maybe its the same fascination within press circles as to what readers OUGHT TO hear about. Maybe pageantry makes for stirring copy. Maybe its what Mark Twain says, that Americans claim to be republican but really are in love with royalty.

But again, MY seldom humble opinion is, so what? She’s not my queen. A few of my ancestors probably fought for Cromwell, and God bless them for it. Too bad the Commonwealth didn’t last — which means, too bad it lacked quality leadership that could have made it a going concern. Up the Levellers! When Diana married Charles, the old San Francisco Chronicle columnist, Art Hoppe, wrote a sarcastic conversation of the young bride to be with her father, who opined, “My daughter marries the king of the welfare cheats.” (Daddy, his family gets a big public subsidy and he stands to inherit the whole operation).

A bunch of parasites. There are many worthwhile events in the world that never make the front page. Editorial judgment decides what people will pay money to know, or ought to know, or a bit of both. It would make a valuable statement if some significant portion of the media said “That’s not news.” IT would be news that they made that decision. And then we’d all be talking about why we should really care, instead of ooing and aahing over nothing.

#21 Comment By Don Quijote On March 15, 2013 @ 8:26 am

But people who worship sex don’t understand any of this: Sex Without Consequences is their only religion and orgasms their only gods, so why should they care what the Church thinks?

You do understand that that is about 90% of humanity; Even the majority of your faithful Church going Catholics are using contraception… Middle aged couples with two kids don’t end up that way without contraception…

And before you ask me how I know that, I know what sex without contraception looks like: It’s a thirty year old Hasidim woman walking down the street with six kids in tow, a nine year old, a seven year old, a five year old, a three year old, a one year old and one in the womb…

Someone who is already committing a mortal sin involving unmarried sex acts is indeed also adding the sin of condom use to that act, but hey, if the three conditions (grave matter, full knowledge, sufficient reflection) are met, he’s already probably going to Hell

And you wonder why they keep leaving your little cult?

#22 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On March 15, 2013 @ 10:05 am

Re: Middle aged couples with two kids don’t end up that way without contraception…

Speaking as a biologist, that’s not true. At a physiological level, it’s very possible for a middle aged couple with two kids to get there through NFP. The efficacy of NFP under perfect use is higher than ‘perfect use’ for the condom, though inferior to the Pill. The efficacy of NFP under *typical* use is also higher than ‘typical use’ for the condom, though again inferior to the Pill. NFP is under constant improvement as we discover more sensitive physiological indicators, and right now we really do have quite accurate ways to monitor fertility (Temperature, consistency of the mucus, levels of hormones in urine and saliva, etc.)

At the sociological level, as distinguished from the physiological, it’s true that most people don’t use NFP. But that’s because they choose not to, not because they can’t. About 4-7% of women *can’t* use it because they have hard to track cycles, but that’s not the case for most women. NFP is also much more widely used in Latin America and Eastern Europe than it is in America (though, again, not by a majority). At the level of whole societies, in the mid-1990s, World Health Organization statistics indicate that NFP was the most commonly used birth control method in Poland (as well as being somewhat widely used in Brazil and other places). Poland, at the time (and still today) had one of the lowest birth rates in the world.

Personally, I’m Episcopalian, I have no moral problems with chemical contraception, and I think a lot of Roman Catholic thought about sexual morality is mistaken at best. That said, as a biologist, I also believe in respect for the truth, and for the scientific method. “What do you call people who use NFP? Parents! Ha ha ha” is a good joke, but it’s not science, nor is it particularly useful as a guide to the truth, either on matters of physiology, sociology or morality.

I worked for a little under three years in rural Africa, primarily as an agricultural/environmental extension adviser, but I also occasionally gave talks about overpopulation, family planning, etc.. I made a point of talking about natural family planning among other methods, because, while most people choose not to use it (often for good reasons), you know what, it actually does work.

#23 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On March 15, 2013 @ 10:11 am

Re: I know what sex without contraception looks like: It’s a thirty year old Hasidim woman walking down the street with six kids in tow, a nine year old, a seven year old, a five year old, a three year old, a one year old and one in the womb…

Your comment betrays a pretty impressive level of ignorance, but I’m going to try to be nice, so here goes. You do understand why that example is an almost textbook example of New York Times-style idiocy?

The Hasidim don’t have large families because they don’t use contraception. Contraception has just about zero to do with it. They have large families because they are ideologically committed to large families. That’s part of their religious views (which they’re open and upfront about), as it is with the Mormons. The Catholic church, by contrast isn’t committed to large families, it embraces family planning in principle, it just restricts the allowable means to one particular method.

If you want to look at what a typical NFP using couple look like, you’d be better advised to look at a Polish couple with one child, or a Brazilian couple with two. Given that most women in the US who use NFP (it’s only about 1-2%) tend to be highly educated and motivated, I’d guess they also tend to have fairly small families as well.

#24 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On March 15, 2013 @ 10:16 am

Siarlys Jenkins,

Just in the interest of historical accuracy: Cromwell was not a believer in religious liberty (probably much less so than Charles, actually), and he wouldn’t have been any friendlier to your brand of Christianity than he was to mine. He wasn’t particularly a believer in merciful treatment of enemies either- just ask the Irish at Drogheda. The Levellers that you mention were sort of cool, but Cromwell wasn’t a leveller. He purged them the same way that the Bolsheviks purged the Social-Revolutionaries.

#25 Comment By M_Young On March 15, 2013 @ 11:03 am

“(Temperature, consistency of the mucus, levels of hormones in urine and saliva, etc.)”

Where’s Lord Grantham when you need him.

#26 Comment By Don Quijote On March 15, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

“(Temperature, consistency of the mucus, levels of hormones in urine and saliva, etc.)”

Those are the things every man thinks about after he has had a decent meal, a couple glasses of wine and is thinking about having an intimate moment with his wife…

#27 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On March 15, 2013 @ 2:09 pm

Re: Those are the things every man thinks about after he has had a decent meal, a couple glasses of wine and is thinking about having an intimate moment with his wife…

Don Quijote,

Actually, I find the whole topic of physiological indicators of fertility status to be fascinating. You may prefer to remain in blissfull ignorance and treat the female reproductive system as a black box. I don’t. Also, I know quite a few people who use NFP, in real life and online, not all of whom are Catholic. As I said, I’m not Catholic and I have no religious dog in this fight, other than that I’m glad there are methods by which women who choose not to use the Pill for reasons of religion, cost, or medical interactions, can control their fertility. As a scientifically trained person, though, I think the notion of being able to tell your fertility status on a daily basis is very interesting, and I’m glad that people who have studied these issues show more intellectual curiosity than you do.

#28 Comment By Erin Manning On March 15, 2013 @ 5:54 pm

Hector, your defense of NFP from the scientific standpoint is greatly appreciated. I notice with amusement that both M_Young’s and Don Quixote’s reaction amounts to “Girl stuff. Eww. Don’t bother us with that. Just take the nice pill and be sexually available whenever your man is in the mood…”

So liberating.

Signed, a woman who has been using NFP with her husband’s full cooperation and consent for 15 years now due to ongoing issues with high blood pressure, and who is grateful to God for her loving spouse and her three daughters who were all born before the HBP thing did more than cause preeclampsia twice (and while she was still wavering about NFP, having desired a large family, but realizing eventually that that desire was her own will and not God’s in her particular circumstances).

#29 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 15, 2013 @ 11:36 pm

Hector, you’ve managed to stir up the appearance of an argument by saying what I said.

Yes, I’m aware the Cromwell was not a Leveller, and did not believe in freedom of religion. He believed in the primacy of HIS religion. I suppose you need that kind of confidence to turn out a monarchy and cut off the king’s head.

too bad it lacked quality leadership that could have made it a going concern

When I wrote that, I was talking about the deficiencies of Cromwell’s leadership, and that the Leveller’s are (with 20/20 hindsight and no significant risk to life, fortune, or sacred honor) more my kind of guys. But the Levellers all fought under Cromwell against the cavaliers.

On the other hand, Rod and I are at an impasse. He sincerely believes in the singular importance of the Petrine office. I consider it about as singular and significant as the Donation of Constantine, or any other power grab. I see no objective experiment to test the hypothesis. On this question, we all walk by faith, not by sight.

#30 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On March 16, 2013 @ 4:17 pm

You’re welcome, Erin.

I don’t think NFP is the only morally acceptable choice, but I absolutely think that it can be a valid, highly effective choice that works great for some people. In general, my experience is that the actual scholarly literature on NFP is pretty favourable to it. Most of the people who are quickest to dismiss the efficiacy of NFP do so *because* they don’t like the Catholic church. It’s worth pointing out that while NFP may not work well for everyone, neither does the pill (plenty of women have side effects or medical interactions with the pill and other chemical methods).

I actually know an ultra-liberal atheist couple who uses NFP- she disliked the side effects of the pill, and neither of them particularly liked using condoms.

Re: But the Levellers all fought under Cromwell against the cavaliers.

Right, which is why I think the comparison with the Bolsheviks and the Social-Revolutionaries is apt.