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BS: The Pope's Survey

Joe Offer 16 Nov 13 - 07:18 PM
Rapparee 16 Nov 13 - 09:04 PM
Joe Offer 16 Nov 13 - 09:47 PM
Rapparee 16 Nov 13 - 10:14 PM
GUEST,Musket evolving slowly 17 Nov 13 - 02:14 AM
Joe Offer 17 Nov 13 - 03:07 AM
GUEST,Musket evolving slowly 17 Nov 13 - 05:05 AM
DMcG 17 Nov 13 - 05:18 AM
DMcG 17 Nov 13 - 05:34 AM
selby 17 Nov 13 - 05:53 AM
Steve Shaw 17 Nov 13 - 06:56 AM
Joe Offer 17 Nov 13 - 09:53 AM
DMcG 17 Nov 13 - 05:09 PM
Joe Offer 17 Nov 13 - 06:58 PM
GUEST,Musket curious 18 Nov 13 - 01:22 AM
Steve Shaw 18 Nov 13 - 08:11 AM
GUEST,Grishka 18 Nov 13 - 09:54 AM
akenaton 18 Nov 13 - 06:43 PM
GUEST,Grishka 18 Nov 13 - 07:09 PM
Steve Shaw 18 Nov 13 - 07:32 PM
Joe Offer 19 Nov 13 - 01:57 AM
GUEST,Musket evolving slowly 19 Nov 13 - 03:42 AM
GUEST,Grishka 19 Nov 13 - 07:19 AM
Steve Shaw 19 Nov 13 - 09:29 AM
Steve Shaw 19 Nov 13 - 09:34 AM
GUEST,Grishka 19 Nov 13 - 11:53 AM
DMcG 19 Nov 13 - 06:04 PM
Joe Offer 19 Nov 13 - 06:16 PM
mg 19 Nov 13 - 07:18 PM
Joe Offer 19 Nov 13 - 07:35 PM
Steve Shaw 19 Nov 13 - 09:18 PM
Joe Offer 19 Nov 13 - 10:57 PM
Jack Blandiver 20 Nov 13 - 03:21 AM
Joe Offer 20 Nov 13 - 03:40 AM
Jack Blandiver 20 Nov 13 - 03:58 AM
Joe Offer 20 Nov 13 - 05:16 AM
Jack Blandiver 20 Nov 13 - 06:06 AM
Musket 20 Nov 13 - 07:26 AM
GUEST,Grishka 20 Nov 13 - 08:42 AM
Stu 20 Nov 13 - 09:10 AM
Steve Shaw 20 Nov 13 - 09:22 AM
Jim McLean 20 Nov 13 - 11:47 AM
Musket 20 Nov 13 - 12:28 PM
Jim McLean 20 Nov 13 - 01:06 PM
GUEST,Eliza 20 Nov 13 - 01:22 PM
Steve Shaw 20 Nov 13 - 02:05 PM
GUEST,Musket curious 20 Nov 13 - 03:46 PM
GUEST,Eliza 20 Nov 13 - 04:32 PM
Joe Offer 20 Nov 13 - 05:29 PM
GUEST,Grishka 20 Nov 13 - 05:54 PM
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Subject: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Nov 13 - 07:18 PM

Somebody asked me about the Pope's survey in a personal message. I realize that there are people at Mudcat that seek to prevent rational discussion of religious issues because they are certain that all religion is bad and all religious people are stupid, but nonetheless I think that this is a good thing to talk about.

I won't reveal the name of the person who sent me the personal message, but this is what he said:
    I assume you have heard about the survey described here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24951677

    That the survey is taking place at all is fantastic, but I find the questions asked in the UK version troublesome in their obscurity and slant (see link within the article). However that's me: If it hasn't happened already I presume there will be a US version, and I'd be grateful if you could send me a link to that when it is available.

Here's a link to the UK survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FamilySynod2014

Here's how I responded:
The majority of current Catholic bishops were appointed by John Paul II, who was phenomenally popular but very much the Slavic conservative. The long reign of John Paul II did much to dismantle the advances of the Second Vatican Council, much to my dismay. I liked Benedict/Ratzinger, but his intellectual approach didn't set many people on fire. The new pope, Francis, is just my kinda guy. I hope he holds the seat long enough to bring things around to a more compassionate, positive perspective.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Rapparee
Date: 16 Nov 13 - 09:04 PM

I have twenty-one (21) semester hours as taught in a post-Vatican II environment. This includes such courses as "Marriage and the Family", "Sacramental Theology", "The Documents of Vatican II", and "Social Theology" (before it ended up on the Vatican's 'naughty' list).

I have a further twenty-four (24) semester hours of philosophy, taught I feel in a neutral manner, from that same Catholic college. This includes courses in ethics, existentialism, classical Greek philosophy, and logic.

I have 12 years of pre-Vatican II Catholic religious teaching, and two years of Latin.

I have no idea of the contents of "Gaudium et spes" or "Familiaris consortio", even after 40 years of marriage. I have a low regard for "Humanae vitae." And I wish that neither survey would use the phrase "cohabitation ad experimentum" as it is a technical, rather than commonly understood, term.

After reviewing the UK version of the survey I agree with Joe. More, I feel that it is slanted and can only produce skewed data (yes, I studied Statistics in that Catholic college as well as other places). As an essay-type survey it will be extremely difficult to use and interpret and as a result it will end up meaning whatever the researchers think it means. The US (non-bishop) survey is far superior, using as it does Ligert scales and other statistically valid techniques.

I hope that enough Catholics participate that a statistically viable sample is achieved...assuming that the "official" survey can be understood at all.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Nov 13 - 09:47 PM

It's interesting how much "spin" you can put into a translation. It's clear that the UK and (laity-prepared) US surveys come from the same source, but there's an entirely different tone to the two of them. I would suppose if todays US bishops were to publish their translation of the survey, it would look very much like the UK translation. Despite the "spin" put on these surveys, I hope that somebody hears the truth. If the Catholic Church is to survive, it must take on the robe of charity. It's not the teaching that much change, it's the attitudes - the Catholic Church must really believe the Law that requires Christians to "love one another" - and that means loving people no matter what their sexual orientation or marital "irregularity" or attitude about abortion might be.

-Joe-
So, here are my answers to the unofficial American survey. This is a shorter one prepared by an organization called Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, http://papalsurvey.com/. I think I like the longer one better, http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SynodOnFamilyUS.

The Church and Family Life
How well is the Church's teaching on marriage and family life communicated in your parish community? How does your local Church support married couples in their journey, especially those who struggle with marital difficulties?
I think my parish does this quite well, and so does my diocese. There are solid marriage preparation programs, Marriage Encounter and Retrovaille, The topic is often addressed in homilies, and in a realistic way.
In addition, my parish has a very good parish school, and many social and religious activities for families that are very popular.
I think that the measures taken to prevent child molestation are quite good. All employees and priests, and all volunteers who work with children, are fingerprinted and checked for criminal records, and all are given annual training on how to detect and report suspicious conduct with children. Instances of suspected child abuse must be reported to law enforcement authorities and to the diocese immediately. Children are given instruction about child molestation.
Outreach to Divorced and Separated Persons
How does your parish community welcome divorced and separated persons? How are they included in the life of the parish? Are they given sufficient space to be full and active members of the Church?
Divorced and separated people are welcomed, and there are programs to help people get over the pain of divorce. However, there are no accommodations for them it they get married again, even if the marriage takes place years after the divorce. They generally aren't actively rejected from their parish if they marry again, but they know that they are no longer welcome to participate fully in the Church and receive communion. Some ignore the restriction and receive communion anyway, but most just quietly fall away.
Outreach to Same-Sex Couples and Gay Persons
How does your parish community welcome same-sex couples and gay persons? How are they included in the life of the parish? Are they given sufficient space to be full and active members of the Church?
My parish generally ignores that fact that gay people exist, although they are not actively excluded from parish activities. My own parish does not actively support campaigns against gay marriage, but neither is there any discussion about gay marriage in my parish. My bishop actively opposes legislation that allows gay marriage, and he withdrew funding from a homeless service program that hired an executive director who spoke in favor of gay marriage.
Being A Church of Mercy and of Welcome
Pope Francis has declared his desire that the Church be a place of mercy and of welcome. As he and other bishops come together to discuss family life in 2014, what can the Church do to achieve this vision more fully? Please speak on the basis of personal experience.
I think that in general, the Catholic Church does this quite well, particularly in welcoming immigrants and in serving the poor and homeless. Most of the social services in my area, have Catholic roots and are now open to volunteers and client no matter what their religious beliefs may be.
Of course, the Catholic Church fails to welcome people who are gay, or who are divorced and remarried.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Rapparee
Date: 16 Nov 13 - 10:14 PM

Matthew 23:1-34.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: GUEST,Musket evolving slowly
Date: 17 Nov 13 - 02:14 AM

I don't think Joe should be so concerned about mudcat.org debate on religion. The threads he worries over tend to start with people who have religious faith referring to those without it as being a single entity with similar views. That gets the fun started. .....

I too have concerns over the UK angle and coincidentally a Catholic friend mentioned this at a party last week. Perhaps a paraphrasing (the best I can do thanks to "taking a little wine for thy body's sake) of his take may be useful to the thread.

"This Pope seems very progressive and has corruption in his sights. Examples in the news all the time of dealing with long term issues both financially and morally.   

However. This survey sums the problems he faces up for me. The idea of asking your people then acting on their wishes makes him the servant to the cause. Traditionally, the Pope has been the leader of the cause. Some people have issues with his approach. Mainly due to their own existing power base.

The UK survey questions being an example. If the status quo is reflected in this survey, then the Vatican doesn't know much about your average Catholic in communities wheretthey form a small minority. Other than a couple of large cities, that describes your average member. The impression you are left with is that we are a happy home for clergy who live in the previous century and we will brush aside the celibacy in order to welcome Anglican vicars who refuse to brush aside male dominance. "

I don't have a dog in this race but thought his take, if I have reflected it accurately, to be interesting. I have concerns but they are of the more fundamental "if you live in a country with clear equality laws, debating whether to respect them is ultimately futile. "


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Nov 13 - 03:07 AM

Well, Musket, I'm hoping that this thread will be rational and constructive.
I like the survey I posted above, although it does not allow space for me to address a number of issues, like child molestation, women priests, and the overemphasis on abortion to the disadvantage of programs for those in need.
I've decided to take that last issue seriously. Last year, I wrote to my bishop and asked for my contribution back when he dropped funding for a homeless services organization that hired an executive director who supported gay marriage and had spoken favorably of the women's health services provided by Planned Parenthood (which also does abortions). To his credit, my bishop responded in less than a week, and refunded my donation.

This week, a priest who was a seminary classmate of mine asked me to donate to Catholic Relief Services [CRS] to help people in the Philippines after the typhoon. I've always thought highly of CRS, and it does seem to give aid generously and wisely - but I wondered if CRS had also been forced into playing games because of the abortion issue. My friend forwarded my letter to CRS, and I got this reply from "K," a Catholic Relief Services representative.
    Good morning Mr. Offer,
    We are grateful that you took the time to share your concerns with us. I wanted to address your concerns by providing you with some background information that supports CRS' position regarding the false accusations recently lodged by several websites.
    In communion with the Church, CRS strictly upholds Catholic moral teaching. As a part of the Universal Church, Catholic institutions are our partners of preference. To reach all those who need our help, CRS also participates in humanitarian initiatives undertaken by a wide range of groups, such as governments, other faith communities and secular institutions. Although some positions and practices of these institutions are not always consistent with the full range of Catholic teaching, CRS' association with them is always and only focused on activities that are fully consistent with Catholic teaching. Furthermore, CRS neither facilitates, endorses nor enables any violation of those teachings. CRS has a process for vetting our relationships with partners to ensure we are in full compliance with Church teaching. I invite you to visit our website at www.crs.org to review all current updates.
    I hope this information provides you with the clarification and reassurances you need regarding Catholic Relief Services.
    K, CRS Donor Services


Here's how I responded:

    Hello, K,
    Thank you for your reply. My concern is that Catholic Relief Services might be following many bishops in going overboard in enforcing their view of "Catholic Teaching" - opposing abortion at any cost, to the disadvantage of the poor. I'm on the board of a nonprofit that receives significant funding from the Campaign for Human Development. One project of our nonprofit was establishing a "211" social services information telephone line in our county, but CCHD demanded that we disassociate ourselves from 211 because somebody might call 211 for abortion services. That would give us an opportunity to also provide information about alternatives to abortion, but CCHD didn't consider that.
    And our bishop in Sacramento withdrew funding from a homeless services organization that had roots in a Catholic parish, because the organization hired a Methodist minister as executive director, and the minister had spoken in favor of gay marriage and had said nice things about Planned Parenthood (while still opposing abortion).
    On top of that, I'm a Mercy Associate, and one of our sisters in Phoenix was excommunicated by the local bishop because she was part of a hospital ethics committee who voted to allow an abortion for a woman whose life was endangered by the pregnancy. The hospital is no longer recognized as a Catholic hospital, and the nun had to go through a humiliating "repentance" procedure to get the excommunication lifted.
    I'm a Catholic and I do think abortion is wrong, but I'm sick of this sort of grandstanding by the bishops. If CRS kowtows to this nonsense, then I don't want to donate to it anymore. I notice that your letter says you "ensure we are in full compliance with Church teaching." I guess that means you play those same games, and I don't want any part of that. I want my money to go to serve those in need, with no political strings attached. If you check, you'll see that I have made significant donations to CRS in the past. If you can't assure me that you won't put such rigid strings on the money I donate, then I see no reason to donate to CRS or to any Catholic charity. I certainly don't want to promote abortion, but I don't want to put roadblocks in the way of good charities that have only ancillary connection to the possibility of abortion.
    Sincerely,
    -Joe Offer-

    So, we'll see how they respond to that.
    -Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: GUEST,Musket evolving slowly
Date: 17 Nov 13 - 05:05 AM

Thanks Joe.

It does raise the question, pertinent to this thread, of what describes faith? The survey seems to be asking it!

You have mentioned many times your personal misgivings of some of your church's doctrine and the Catholic faith, far more than any other mainstream Christian faith expects adherence to the prescribed position. Hence my friend noting that asking members for guidance is a novel concept where infallibility is in the doctrine.

I and others on these threads have questioned how you reconcile Joe Offer with Catholic doctrine. None of our business of course! But you offer the opinion I suppose so exploring it with you is to be expected?

When your church has a stance on same sex or circumstances for abortion or role of women within the church. .. And it doesn't accord with yours, at which point would it be proper to ask who doesn't get Catholicism? They feel you don't and you feel they don't. To an outsider, it makes it easier to dismiss the overall message of your church.

Whilst not wishing to pry on your reasoning, which is your own, I did notice your line "I am s Catholic and I think abortion is wrong. " If you are not careful, you can end up with shallow idiots like me pondering whether your views on abortion happen to coincide with Catholic teaching or whether you feel your opinion is influenced by being a Catholic?

For what it is worth, I was involved with a nationwide inspection of all termination of pregnancy services across England carried out in the same week unannounced when the government thought the prevailing law was being abused by unscrupulous clinics.

My view hitherto had been, frankly, nothing to do with me and hadn't thought of it.   After carrying out a dozen inspections personally that week and reviewing the national findings, my view has progressed to each situation is different and must be decided jointly by the lady and those charged with her care, taking circumstances into account with no political, judicial or religious pressure.   Aborting a viable feutus for conveniencesake iis fundamentally wrong in my opinion yet I am minded of reading and discussing individual circumstances surrounding such cases. Cases where the clinical risks of not intervening are strong are not, in my opinion, the concern of anyone except the clinical team and the patient in a best interest decision.

I would be concerned if after this survey, members of the Catholic faith in The UK were told to adopt a stance that differed to what anyone in The UK has the right to expect in any sense. (Note I said UK. Normally that is shorthand for The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. On abortion, the Stormont Assembly has laws nearer to their neighbours to the south. A recent death of a pregnant lady highlights the problem with that approach and indeed where religion seems to overtake the needs of people not signed up to that particular faith.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: DMcG
Date: 17 Nov 13 - 05:18 AM

I did complete the survey, though in order to do so adequately it has taken something like three days. There are a lot of problems with the phrasing of the questions and as Rapparee said, I think most people's understand of documents like "Gaudium et spes" and "Familiaris consortio" is a few slogans, with no clear idea of which slogan is associated with which document.

What is perhaps as worrying is that I heard of the document via a BBC report, and between announcement of the online survey and its closing date is about two weeks. I haven't heard anything via the Church. In fact, if I wanted to design a questionnaire that got a low response in order to show I'd tried, but the laity were not really interested, this comes remarkably close. Having said that, I don't think it is necessarily deliberate. The uses of terms like 'natural law' for example are well understood amongst the bishops but they have not appreciated how obscure and poorly understand that term is for the average person. So I think there is a certain lack of thoughtfulness, rather than deliberate obscurity.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: DMcG
Date: 17 Nov 13 - 05:34 AM

I should say, perhaps, that since the final question was did we have any other comments on the survey my response was to say how much I welcomed Pope Francis's idea of the survey, but that the bishops response to it was very poor for various listed reasons, ending up with 'In short: Not good enough. Not good enough at all'.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: selby
Date: 17 Nov 13 - 05:53 AM

Not religious in any sense, the present Pope seems to want to achieve something for the people. I suspect he won the case to get a survey, but then couldn't write it himself,then others muddied the water. I believe he is a reformer for the right reasons, my hope is that he will live long enough to make a difference.
Keith


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 17 Nov 13 - 06:56 AM

I realize that there are people at Mudcat that seek to prevent rational discussion of religious issues because they are certain that all religion is bad and all religious people are stupid

Er, you post this, then, down the thread, express the hope for a rational debate. Perhaps you'd care to take this opportunity, as I do not take offence (as I have no right to not be offended) to say who these miscreants are. I for one would feel very cross indeed if I saw anyone here post that all religion is bad and that all religious people are stupid.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Nov 13 - 09:53 AM

You know, Musket, I'm not sure if there's anything in Catholic doctrine (official teaching of what is to be believed) that I disagree with - unless you count the refusal to ordain women as doctrine, which I don't.

There are practices of the Catholic Church that I disagree with, some very strongly - but the belief system of the Catholic Church is what I believe. More on that later.

Like Francis, I think the Catholic Church has got the tone and balance wrong.

But I'm off to sing at Sunday Mass. I'll have to explain later.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: DMcG
Date: 17 Nov 13 - 05:09 PM

Musket: Trying to answer you question for Joe as if it was addressed to me, I think my biggest single problem is that their approach to the concept of Natural Law is firmly stuck in 1274 with the publication of Summa Theologica. Wiki is hardly authoritative, yet I understand this quotation from the Christian concept of natural law is more or less accurate: "The natural law was inherently teleological and deontological in that although it is aimed at goodness, it is entirely focused on the ethicalness of actions, rather than the consequence."

And that really does not fit either later ideas of natural law, or most peoples understanding of what any sort of human natural law would be. Everyone I have discussed this with outside the context of the questionnaire regards the (anticipated) consequences as being of greater significance that the act itself, whatever that might be.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Nov 13 - 06:58 PM

Musket says: the Catholic faith, far more than any other mainstream Christian faith expects adherence to the prescribed position..

I'm not sure I believe that's true, Musket. There are some who may claim that to be the case with the Catholic Church, because the conservatives have a very loud and well-funded voice among English-speaking Catholics. But you'll get a different story from the well-established Catholic universities and religious orders.

For the most part, the "prescribed position" is the Nicene Creed of 325, which is held by a good number of Christian denominations. Almost all subsequent Catholic doctrine is built on the Creed and the Bible. And although the basic doctrines are set, they can be seen through a wide variety of philosophical and theological perspectives.

Ultra-conservative Catholics tend to have the same literalist and legalistic perspective that you'll find among fundamentalist Christians and other fundamentalist groups. A primary aspect of fundamentalism, seems to be passing judgment on others. But you won't find that kind of perspective among what I would call "mainstream" Catholics, and especially not in the long-established religious orders. I think that most Catholics tend to ponder the questions and mysteries that religious faith deals with, rather than holding tight to what they consider to be the "facts."

I don't think this is well-known, but the writings of Pope Benedict/Joseph Ratzinger tend to have this kind of approach, of pondering the questions from various perspectives and never coming to a definitive answer. Benedict is far less rigid than people think him to be. Francis has that same pondering nature, but he has a personality that conveys that openness far more clearly. After all, Francis is a Jesuit, and Jesuits are known to be good thinkers and good communicators.

I had lunch with one of my favorite Jesuits today, and he was speculating about the future of the Catholic Church under Francis. He likes the direction Francis is taking, but thinks that turning the Catholic Church is like steering the Queen Mary. My friend figures Francis will reign for ten years, if we're lucky. At the end of his reign, there will still be many bishops who were appointed by John Paul II.

Somebody asked my Jesuit friend how a bishop can be removed from office. My friend said Rome can ask the bishop to resign, but bishops cannot be removed from office unless they are found guilty of an offense that is punishable under church law. In other words, it's almost impossible to remove a bishop - except, perhaps, by creating the illusion of a promotion (to a job that is actually a sinecure), as was done with Cardinal Law of Boston.

I suppose Francis could do what Roosevelt did with the Supreme Court and increase the number of bishops, but he won't have much luck removing sitting bishops. And many bishops seem prepared to ignore the changes Francis wants to make. Sometimes, it seems to me that the US bishops compete with each other to see who can be the most obnoxiously repressive bishop in the country. I suppose there's always been a conflict in the Catholic Church between the saints and the bishops. The conflict between St. Francis and the Powers That Be, was legendary.

But I think Pope Francis is doing his best to turn things around, and his efforts have been very popular. Francis is not all that innovative - his ideas have been widely held for a long, long time, even before Vatican II.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: GUEST,Musket curious
Date: 18 Nov 13 - 01:22 AM

Thanks Joe and thanks DMcG.

I find it fascinating this side of the pond that this week's synod vote on women Bishops for the Anglican Church of England has lobby groups both sides of the fence and the "traditional" lobby group which opposes women is a joint Anglican and Catholic group. In the meantime, The Church of Ireland has just appointed a woman as a bishop.

To an outsider, such debates just increase the irrelevance of the church, regardless of flavour. I looked at the questions UK Catholics are being asked and my thoughts were that the questions have been phrased to get the answers conservative forces want. "This is what you asked for. ..."

Yet I cannot and frankly will not understand how in this day and age any membership organisation can openly refute equality of women, can debate a position on gay people and indeed divorced people and promote nothing to the unwanted baby or overpopulation debate other than abstinence. Then polarise the moral debate on abortion.

To ask their members to follow their rules is one thing but both our governments have those who wish to impose religious restrictions on the rest of us. It doesn't help. ..


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 18 Nov 13 - 08:11 AM

Yet I cannot and frankly will not understand how in this day and age any membership organisation can openly refute equality of women, can debate a position on gay people and indeed divorced people and promote nothing to the unwanted baby or overpopulation debate other than abstinence. Then polarise the moral debate on abortion.

The almost explosive population growth in the Philippines, largely engendered by the Catholic Church's opposition to contraception in a country which is 80% Catholic, is nothing short of scandalous. When you consider that most of that burgeoning population, in a country with a drastic gulf between a rich tiny minority and a poor massive majority, are obliged to live in flimsy, vulnerable houses, I wonder whether any Catholic bigwigs are shifting rather uncomfortably from buttock to buttock at the thought that the Church's policies are a massive contributory factor to the terrible destruction and misery we've just witnessed.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 18 Nov 13 - 09:54 AM

I have no idea how many Catholics can understand the questions at all, notably "Gaudium et spes" (Pleasure and Hope?) etc., but if my political instinct does not betray me, the questions are mainly aimed at conservative Catholics, in order to estimate the amount of conservative resistance to the Pope's own reform plans. Liberalizing the use of condoms seems to be on the agenda, following most other religious communities.

Gender equality will take longer, as it did/does in other churches. As for same-sex marriage, the discussion is still hot even in non-religious contexts such as the Socialist Party of France.

In fact churches face more serious problems than sexual ethics. Once this door is open, the Catholic clergy will be confronted with the same fresh wind as their heretic brethren have been before. I even have the strong feeling that most clergy of higher ranks have erroneous ideas about their own churches' faith altogether. A questionnaire for that purpose must look quite differently - social scientists already have a clue, notably including some theologians.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: akenaton
Date: 18 Nov 13 - 06:43 PM

Hmm perhaps you're right Grishka, but the really big social dilemmas are still ahead as medical science moves onwards.
Will it be in the interests of humanity to control what sort of child is born...designer babies etc?....abortion on the basis of gender, or simply in the interests of convenience?

Most religions encourage the value of life as a sacred gift from god, do we not run the risk of losing our humanity to science?


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 18 Nov 13 - 07:09 PM

akenaton, you certainly have a gift of misunderstanding me. Science should care for science, religion for religion, and ethics for ethics. Words like "God's gift" sound as solemn as they should, but do not explain much about ethics. Neither does science.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 18 Nov 13 - 07:32 PM

Science is humanity. Religion is a mere bolt-on. We have lost a good deal of humanity to religion. Science cannot do bad things. Only people can do those, sometimes by misusing science, sometimes by assuming outrageous and unsupportable authority in deliberately propagating delusions to other people in order to control and exploit them. The latter we call "organised religion".


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Nov 13 - 01:57 AM

Grishka says: Science should care for science, religion for religion, and ethics for ethics

I dunno, Grishka, I think the three would be better off if they were to consult with one another and learn from each other.




Musket says: Yet I cannot and frankly will not understand how in this day and age any membership organisation can openly refute equality of women, can debate a position on gay people and indeed divorced people and promote nothing to the unwanted baby or overpopulation debate other than abstinence. Then polarise the moral debate on abortion.

Well, Musket, I think I would tend to agree with you on all those issues, although my thinking on abortion is more nuanced. But I look on the Catholic Church as my church, and recognize the fact that it has a conservative majority. While the dominant ideology may be conservative, I do not see my church as essentially an ideological entity. I go to church to encounter God, not to be indoctrinated in a particular ideology. And in the process, I find many people who think as I do - like my Jesuit friend that I had lunch with yesterday.

Less than fifty years ago, Western society generally espoused the views currently held by the Catholic Church majority on birth control, homosexuals, women, divorce, and abortion. And Western society changed. So, I figure that sort of thing will change in the Catholic Church sooner or later - and I see it as my duty to push for that change.

As for abortion, I think that it's never a good thing. Several years ago, I interviewed the medical director of our local Planned Parenthood chapter, and he himself said that an abortion is never a cause for rejoicing. To my mind, it is the taking of a life. You can argue with me on that and I will agree with you - and I will still say that from my perspective it is the taking of a life, and that I mourn that loss of life. Nonetheless, for many women, abortion is the best of the bad choices available to them. Although I might regret or question their decision or suggest alternatives if asked, I think the choice is ultimately up to the woman that is pregnant.

I think that taking a life for any reason, even self-defense, is never a good thing. It is always a decision that must be made seriously, and with a good deal of regret - and taking life must be avoided whenever possible. But there are times when it just isn't possible to avoid taking a life.

I suppose that many people won't understand this, maybe because they place a higher value on ideology than I do, or they feel a greater need to keep away from people who don't share their ideology. But I go to Mass on Sunday to worship God and to celebrate life. I don't go because of ideology, and ideology really isn't discussed much in my parish.

As for Catholic teaching against birth control engendering the population explosion in the Philippines and elsewhere, how do you explain the low birth rate among Catholics in the U.S. and Western Europe? For the most part, the Catholic teaching against artificial birth control, is rarely mentioned within the Catholic Church. Most of these things (other than abortion), are just not as big a deal in the Catholic Church, as people seem to think they are. I suppose there are priests here and there that are obsessed with one thing or another - but most don't dwell on these subjects because they are not central teachings of the Catholic Church. Sure, they're official teaching, but they're buried in subsection 32 of Appendix L, paragraph 16, line 936a (c) - or thereabouts. Service to the poor and justice for immigrants get top billing - but you'll have a hard time finding anything official written by the Catholic Church on birth control or homosexuality.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: GUEST,Musket evolving slowly
Date: 19 Nov 13 - 03:42 AM

Hey Joe!

Thanks for a well thought out answer. I guess on the subject of abortion I have no theological position on where a biological growth becomes a tenable life. We could talk about cell replication without aid of the host but that would therefore include malignant tumours. .....

So with regard to abortion, I still maintain I cannot come to a personal stance I would defend, but experience of regulating terminations from a clinical quality and safety aspect does lead to one stance. Where it is permitted, each case is an individual circumstance assessed and duly consented. Here, The Abortion Act 1968 may be a little creaky and some aspects have been amended by more general health acts, but the consent of the patient (to include best interest decisions under The Mental Capacity Act 2005) and the clinical and ethical consent of two doctors independently has served the process for a long time. Politicians move the number of weeks around and they do rely on religious considerations in their deliberations. A good example of my usual cry for using such influence responsibly in the moral interest of all rather than the dogma of the few.

Good luck with your aim to reform from within. As we can see from the rise of fundamentalism in general, old ideas have a heavy kick, and they don't think the kick to be death throes. .....


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 19 Nov 13 - 07:19 AM

Joe,
Grishka says: Science should care for science, religion for religion, and ethics for ethics

I dunno, Grishka, I think the three would be better off if they were to consult with one another and learn from each other.
First of all, they should not be confused with each other, and should not interfere with each other. There are connections, of course, but they are more subtle than traditional language tends to suggest. I could mention art as a fourth such entity. I think we agree that religion and science have their separate realms, but I do not agree with you that religions are based on the Golden Rule. Theologians and philosophers should have sufficient knowledge of sciences, religion, and ethics, to avoid undue interference and to find out the connections.

Religion - in an abstract sense - can make us sensitive for ethical questions, but it cannot possibly answer them. A sentence like "Human life is a gift of God" is more or less a flowery variant of "We attribute maximal ethical value to human life". The specific problem of traditionally-minded Christian clergy is that they wish to retain their historic predecessors' monopoly on all kind of intellectual work, notably including ethics, whereas in fact they have strong competition by other intellectuals. Congregations want their clergy to generally enforce a moral point of view, notably besides their originary role in proper religion, but many do not accept such a monopoly.

Rapparee tells us
I have 12 years of pre-Vatican II Catholic religious teaching, and two years of Latin.

I have no idea of the contents of "Gaudium et spes" or "Familiaris consortio"
which I judge as yet one more indication that being instructed about subtleties of ethics is not what believers primarily seek from their clerics.

Also, like other propagandists of ethics, part of the clergy have always abused their power for unethical activities. This does not necessarily make their ethics wrong in itself, but lessens the authority of their institutions. A more modest public appearance of the clergy, comparable to democratic politicians, would enhance their acceptance. The present pope may be about to do a step in that direction - a long way lies ahead. Some other denominations are much more advanced - which does not mean that they are any laxer in their ethics, just less dogmatic.

Generally, we should not confuse "organized religion" (i.e. religious congregations) and their clergy and theology.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 19 Nov 13 - 09:29 AM

I don't know anyone, in spite of knowing a number of ardent pro-choicers like myself, who would say that abortion is ever a good thing (yeah, men-patronising-women red alert...). I've made the following point so many times: if abortion is never a good thing, which we seem to agree about, then why does the Catholic Church fail to promote those practices that would reduce abortion? Why is it not in the vanguard of promoting effective, open, neutral, moralising-free and interference-free education for sex and relationships? Why does it not promote much better access to contraception and family planning advice? Why does it actually brief against these things? Why does it continue to promote its misogyny? You simply can't have this both ways. In effect, if you preach against these steps you are promoting high abortion numbers. If you belong to any organisation that preaches these things, you should be fighting against it vehemently from within. If you are a Catholic you belong to an organisation that will very likely have Mother Teresa, corrupt champion of poverty, ignorance and high abortion rates, sainted in the near future! Where will be the outrage? This fight from within seems to be taking a very long time to me. It certainly ain't happening in my dad's parish. Catholics and many non-Catholics alike are kidding themselves that this new Pope is some kind of breath of fresh air. Well he isn't and he can't be. Men (just men) of marble. Same old, just with a smile on its face, innit.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 19 Nov 13 - 09:34 AM

Also, like other ^ propagandists of ethics, part of the clergy have always abused their power for unethical activities.

Agreed, but you left out "self-appointed..."


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 19 Nov 13 - 11:53 AM

The last sentence of my post of 19 Nov 13 - 07:19 AM should of course read
Generally, we should not confuse "organized religion" (i.e. religious congregations) with their clergy and theology.
Propagandists can be self-appointed, appointed by institutions, or even by the recipients of the propaganda themselves; my point remains valid. Example by an elected propagandist, Catholic only by coincidence: "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country".


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: DMcG
Date: 19 Nov 13 - 06:04 PM

Quite a few points have been raised above that we have addressed many times on many threads, but I think we can tie some of Steve Shaw's comments back to the survey, or at least try. You remember I said that one of the biggest problems I see with the Catholic faith as implied by the survey is the way this is tied back to an interpretation of natural law that is directed at actions and does its best to separate these acts from consequences? Now, I agree with many of the points Steve makes, and it is why I think that separation of act and consequence when considering ethics is seriously and fundamentally wrong: many of the things he lists (eg "Mother Teresa, corrupt champion of poverty, ignorance and high abortion rates") are consequences of the lack of things like contraceptive choices, and so excluded by a way of thinking that keeps actions and consequences. Hyperbole aside, she did not promote poverty: it was (partially) a direct consequence of other things she did promote, which is, unwisely in my opinion, a different thing.

However, it is important to remember that it is not just the Churches that focus on actions and ignore consequences: almost all laws do that - they have to or else you end up in an incomprehensible soup. "Killing is against the law". Nice and clear, focus on action, don't involve consequences. "Killing is against the law, but might be acceptable if you are a revolutionary and threatening Hitler but not if you are a revolutionary threating Archduke Ferdinand" - too messy: laws that involve consequences are pretty well unworkable, beyond pleas for mitigation, typically after the verdict.

But in my world, and I think Joe's, Churches, even Catholicism, are not about laws. True, there is a Church ruling on an awful lot of things, but that is always just the starting point. Many of us strive (however unsuccessfully), to treat people and cases as unique experiences, not as something to be assessed against a checklist. As do the best non-believers and those of other faiths - I claim nothing special here. All I do ask is that people recognise that we are not all driven by some fixed and unquestionable rulebook.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Nov 13 - 06:16 PM

Grishka, if I understand you correctly, you push for a separation between science, religion, and ethics; and I can't figure out why. It seems to me that all three affect humans, and humans should have concern and a voice regarding all three. It seems to me that interaction among all disciplines, is essential.
Or am I misunderstanding you?




Steve Shaw, I think you don't understand the Catholic Church because you see it as an authority imposing an ideology, which it is not. It is a very loose union of vastly different people who seek to express a shared faith in God. The expression of faith is what is central to a church, not the ideology/doctrine, and not the ethics. Those who do not acknowledge the importance of faith, cannot understand the essence of religion.

It may well be that Mother Teresa had distorted ideas about abortion, and perhaps she also had unacceptable thinking about other things. But having correct ideology, is not the essence of life. Despite their sometimes-antiquated ways, she and her nuns devoted their lives to serving the poor. That, to my mind, is far more important than correct ideology.

Steve says: if abortion is never a good thing, which we seem to agree about, then why does the Catholic Church fail to promote those practices that would reduce abortion?

Agreed but as I have stated above, I think you have an inflated view of the importance of birth control and other sex-related stuff in the Catholic Church. Believe it or not, sexual matters are not central to worship, which is the main function of a church. The last significant thing said about contraception in the Catholic Church was said by Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae in 1965, and that was just a paragraph or two within a lengthy document on the value of human life and love.

And if the Catholic Church were to shift gears and promote birth control, how much of an effect would that actually have? To my mind, family size is a function of culture, not of religion. Of course, religion is very much a reflection of culture - which is why there is such diversity within the Catholic Church.

You claim the Catholic Church promotes misogyny - I really don't think that's the case in the Catholic Church in in the US or in Western Europe, but the Catholic Church has huge populations in areas where people cannot conceive of women being in positions of leadership. Women priests simply wouldn't work in Africa, for example. And in places like Africa, the Catholic Church is in the forefront of movements to promote the rights and welfare of women.

You see the Catholic Church as dictating ideology. I see the Catholic Church as balancing many conflicting ideologies within a union that is not essentially ideological - and I admit that I'm not always happy with the balance. But faith is beyond words and beyond ideology - it rests far deeper within the human spirit.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: mg
Date: 19 Nov 13 - 07:18 PM

If the Catholic Church were to officially promote or at least begrudgingly permit birth control, as Pope John Paul I was supposedly on the verge of doing...it would have huge enormous impact on all sorts of people. It is cruel to people who think you are smarter and more close to God than them to say officially one thing and then unofficially permit what is forbidden...Just be honest men and women and say you are dead wrong and apologize for the horrible effects overpopulation has had on families and on the world. Look at the storm in the Phillipines..as many have pointed out, this is a clearcut issue of overpopulation. They are very faithful Catholics and the church burdens them tremendously with this still official rule.

Most families want to plan their families and reduce the number of children..what man wants to cut sugar cane all day to support 8 children barely when he could perhaps educate and feed 2? What woman wants to see her children sickly and malnourished?

It all just makes me sick. And yes, I feel the church does dictate ideology ... it tries to anyway. But I am a bad Catholic..barely hanging in..the one thing that brings me hope is not the new pope, although he seems fine..but the very welcome news that there is a new president of the bishops..last one constantly repulsed and horrified me.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Nov 13 - 07:35 PM

So, mg, when was the last time you heard birth control mentioned in a Catholic church?

"Huge impact"? I doubt it. Large families are a cultural thing, not an impact of the dictates of religion.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 19 Nov 13 - 09:18 PM

Thank you, DMcG, for your thoughtful post. I must say that many people would regard my utter and vehement condemnation of Mother Teresa with horror: how could it possibly be so...? But I'm afraid she did champion poverty perfectly explicitly and she preached to the poor that they should rejoice in their lot and not fight against it. Have you ever looked up what she said to the people of Bhopal? As for all the good work she did for the poor, well she raised millions of dollars and used a large amount of it to set up hundreds of convents in which her proteges lived rather comfortably, and when she herself was ill she sought relief in expensive clinics in the US. Her own institutions for the poor and sick were places of shameful, criminal neglect, disease and needless deaths (well-documented, I'm afraid, weasel-words alert notwithstanding), and her staff were generally unqualified, badly treated and untrained in how to deal expertly, let alone sympathetically, with vulnerable people. She took money from Papa Doc, in return for which she publicly praised his regime. Don't even get me started on some of her egregiously illiberal and bigoted sayings, material alone for a thesis in themselves. She was the archetypal Christian fundamentalist par excellence. It pays to view the world with your eyes open and see things for what they really are rather than for what you'd fondly like them to be.

It's way past my bedtime and I'll be back at you, Joe, tomorrow, chores permitting. Bet you can't wait. Just remember that, officially, I'm still a Catholic!


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Nov 13 - 10:57 PM

Well, Steve, I have to say that I've never been a big fan of Mother Teresa. Part of that is the hysteria connected with her, plus the fact that there was no joy in her message. There are Christians for whom it seems that the proper spiritual life consists of wallowing in suffering so they can be happy in heaven - and I think Mother Teresa and her nuns fall into that category.

Still, I think the Hitchens excoriation of her, which you echo, is grossly unfair. I've encountered a number of her nuns in the U.S. and Europe, and they certainly don't seem to live a lavish lifestyle. But I'm used to nuns being funny, and passionate, and exciting, and generally brilliant. Her nuns seem to prefer to make suffering the mark of their lives.

But the Hitchens condemnation of Mother Teresa sounds like some sort of conspiracy theory. I just don't believe it.

And in all honesty, I have to admit that there are a few Catholic women in every parish for whom "wallowing in suffering" seems to be their chosen lot in life. They look horribly sad and are continually pregnant, and all their many children whine constantly and have runny noses. I can't imagine these women enjoying sex, and I never see their husbands around; so I suppose their drunken husbands show up on occasion to rape them and keep them pregnant (and to be honest, some of those husbands aren't drunks and seem to be loving fathers, but conservative). But I can't really think that's normal.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 20 Nov 13 - 03:21 AM

Here Mother Theresa can be seen doing a stand-up routine about denying pain killers to her victims - telling them that their suffering is Jesus kissing them. Hilarious!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkIyQyrfQS4


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Nov 13 - 03:40 AM

Well, OK, I'm glad you can understand what she's saying on that video, Jack...


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 20 Nov 13 - 03:58 AM

She's talking about accepting pain & suffering as a gift from God then illustrates this with infamous & oft cited Jesus Kiss anecdote about withholding pain-killers, for which she is rewarded with a mighty guffaw from her cretinous congregation.

Grim stuff!


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Nov 13 - 05:16 AM

Well, Jack, I gotta admit that I don't accept the "wallowing in suffering" gig. The nuns I know (and love) are feisty, not likely to promote suffering as something to seek as a blessing. Still, if you're suffering, you have to do something with it. If you can make it into something meaningful, more power to you.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 20 Nov 13 - 06:06 AM

If I'm suffering, I take painkillers; if I see pain (being an empathic sort o' guy) I wouldn't withhold medication on the grounds that their suffering is God's gift, or Jesus kissing them, or evidence of anything other than nastiness. Pain isn't God's gift : painkillers are - think of it as Holy Communion with the infinite & the eternal, the sacred mystery of nature which inspired humanity to come up with the notion of God in the first place. Nice concept in terms of myth and metaphor; not so good in terms of the political realities of religion.   

Getting back to pills - my life is currently dependent on four different types of medication (it's official! I'm no longer immortal! Gah!). But this is the holy inconvertible law of Nature and Science - these things have been won by long years of learning & research, and without them I'd be dead. Now obviously that's a good thing to a psychopathic evil old hag like Mother Theresa - whose grasp on spirituality & reality was tenuous at best - but I rather like being alive.

LIFE is an end in itself rather than a mere plain of judgement to see what class of eternity I'm fit for in some vain glorious hereafter. The universe is my spiritual eternity & divine unity with the sacred pattern of nature that reveals itself in pain-killers, our daily bread and VCS3 Putneys. Religion was invented to get in the way of such wonders, as Ma Theresa makes abundantly clear.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Musket
Date: 20 Nov 13 - 07:26 AM

I guess a good comparison regarding religious takes on suffering is the Jehova's Witness approach to blood transfusion. Lots of advanced directives and living wills around respecting their wish not to have a blood transfusion. Also lots of instances of when push comes to shove, having them anyway. A cousin of mine is still here today because my Aunty and Uncle relented and convinced her to have it. Interestingly, had she been 6 months younger, the hospital would have been able to ignore their wishes and work in the interest of the child, as this was an emergency.

Mother Teresa was a nun, but I doubt all nuns are or were in her image. The survey asks what the catholic image should be?

Well?


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 20 Nov 13 - 08:42 AM

Grishka, if I understand you correctly, you push for a separation between science, religion, and ethics; and I can't figure out why. It seems to me that all three affect humans, and humans should have concern and a voice regarding all three.
Humans should of course; how could I deny that, doing it myself all the time? However, when a particular point is being discussed, we should try to identify the frame within which we are discussing. For example, when the late pope John Paul II welcomed the Big Bang theory as very compatible with Genesis, he was not only in error (as an Italian Jesuit physicist pointed out in an interview), but in fact arguing "crossover", which should be taboo altogether in modern philosophy.

Similarly, some (secular) ethicists demand that scientific results about the brain should not be published, in order to protect the axiom of autonomous personality. This cannot be accepted; ethicists should make better use of their own brains. Of course, ethics does have a strong say about possibly unethical methods of research, and the use that is made of the results.

The connection between religion and ethics - the topic of this thread - is slightly closer, but much more complicated than commonly verbalized. The Catholic tradition, like some Islamic traditions, feels obliged to root all ethics in theology. Since neither the Bible nor the Quran provide a framework anywhere close to completeness, theologians, following Thomas Aquinas, have created constructions of "natural law", ingenious in their times, but lacking the kind of consistency required by modern thinking.

Protestant theology, starting with Luther, has step by step come to realize that this kind of foundation is neither required nor reasonable. The main primary source of ethics is simply what humans feel to be ethical (in one word: conscience); the job of ethicists is to get that into a consistent shape - religion will not be of any help there. Good religious faith will result in (or comprise, if you will,) a sensitive conscience, that is all.

Well, Luther was not a perfect follower of his own theology; he frequently invoked God for ethical judgments that stretched the scriptures considerably.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Stu
Date: 20 Nov 13 - 09:10 AM

Science is a process, not an answer. What happens with the knowledge discovered by science is the responsibility of society as a whole, although as we know not all voices are equal.

This doesn't mean science operates without ethics; these are a vital part of good science and all scientists work within an ethical framework and of course these ethics are influenced by the prevailing ethical trends of the time. To a large degree they are self-imposed but scientists who operate outside of the wide ethical framework of their discipline would very quickly be seen as pariahs and become quite isolated.


"It seems to me that interaction among all disciplines, is essential."

Taking ethics out of the equation (see above), I think the real issue here is the presence of fundamentalist elements within science and the various religions, especially the monotheistic ones. There are many scientists with deeply held religious convictions, but how they reconcile the two I don't know. I have my own feelings on the matter but I'm not sure they are relevant here.

One of the good things about science is it doesn't matter what your creed or nationality is, scientists tend to be rather enthusiastic about the work they're doing and openness and co-operation is key to this work, so in many cases subject such as politics and religion are rarely raised between colleagues. To my mind this is a very good thing as religion especially is a divisive subject and promotes conflict in many ways, as the world views of adherents tend to be inviolate to themselves and some views are unchallengeable - the total opposite of a scientist who actively seeks to challenge their views.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 20 Nov 13 - 09:22 AM

Hmm. If you think Hitchens was unfair to Mother Teresa, I invite you to enlarge on the ways you consider he misrepresented her.

My first teaching job was at a Catholic school in the east end of London, in Poplar. I taught there, including doing a bit of religious education, for seven years, and I led the whole school in prayerful assemblies on several occasions. We were married in the church across the road by Fr Burke (a man I admire to this day). I had a battle with the Bishop of Stepney, Victor Guazzelli, over whether my non-Catholic wife-to-be and I would have to bring up our future children as Catholics. He relented and we had special dispensation (maybe they needed the marriage fee - times were hard...). Many of the teaching staff were nuns. Yes, they were fun and they were witty - but, to a woman, that surface joviality concealed an unbending, stern and judgemental core. They were capable of being perfectly horrible to the east-end kids who already suffered a load of disadvantages. Perhaps you had to work with 'em up close to see it. In fact, I'm sure you did. A nun's habit has the power to excuse its wearer from a whole layer of casual scrutiny.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Jim McLean
Date: 20 Nov 13 - 11:47 AM

I'm afraid I cannot understand why anyone can believe in a God. In Northern Ireland we have Catholics and Protestants killing each other, elsewhere there are Sunnis and Shiites slaughtering each other, Israelis and Palestinians engaged in murdering each other, suicide bombers blowing themselves and innocent bystanders to bits; there are tsunamis, floods, earthquakes .. thousands of innocent, God fearing people dying. How can anyone justify the existence of a God? Arguments about abortion are purely academic in the face of this.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Musket
Date: 20 Nov 13 - 12:28 PM

Perhaps not as much as you think Jim.

I doubt the God concept is the root of conflict, just a convenient way of a) finding something different about others to make killing them easier, and b) something to get your foot soldiers to believe in. After all, who would follow a leader who said "Do it so I can have their goods and land and be very rich as a result!"

A bit like the "Christian persecution" thread where some people are convinced that whilst persecution of all types goes on, Christian persecution alone is based on religious reasons...

The tsunami, floods and earthquakes aren't anything to do with religion either, despite the masses being put in their place by those who say its because the Gods are angry.....

This thread, if Joe has his way, is about the specific questionnaire concept that Catholics are being asked to complete. Consideration of whether religion has anything to do with the existence of a God is for another day. Mind you, so long as I can swear and be irresponsible, I'd love to participate in the next thread of that ilk.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Jim McLean
Date: 20 Nov 13 - 01:06 PM

Sorry about my typo, I should, of course, written Catholics.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 20 Nov 13 - 01:22 PM

I'm quite thankful that we are a secular country in which The Law as decided by Parliament pertains. Thus, no matter what religious ethics are heavily promoted by whatever misguided, prejudiced or strange sects, one can have recourse to The Law for a much saner ruling. For example, gay people cannot be persecuted and can marry if they wish, people can have access to contraception, blood transfusions, divorce, and so on. Imagine living under Shariah Law, or being subject to various religious strictures maintained forcibly. It only remains for each adherent here to examine their conscience and voluntarily decide to obey the rules of their religion, nobody is forcing them. As a practising C of E member I am still the one to decide whether I agree or not with some of the 'rules'. (For instance, some of the ritualisation in our services)


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 20 Nov 13 - 02:05 PM

It only remains for each adherent here to examine their conscience and voluntarily decide to obey the rules of their religion, nobody is forcing them.

Tiny babies are forcibly christened and, as they grow, are force-fed religion by the million in schools and herded to church services, so perhaps this utopia of free choice isn't as clear cut as you're making it out to be. The horrid Christingle is almost upon us!


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: GUEST,Musket curious
Date: 20 Nov 13 - 03:46 PM

Fair enough Eliza. I must do something weird for me though and slightly defend the ethos behind sharia. You mention your husband is a Muslim so hopefully you see my point as in an ideal world rather than the one we wade through.

My understanding via many friends is that sharia is based on agreeing to arbitration by elders. That their sanctions are based on medieval interpretations of what constitutes fair is an issue but in a secular way, arbitration by agreement to the process is possibly one of the more useful aspects of living by religious ideals.

We can talk of pressure to agree and we can talk of awful sanctions by more extreme penalty but arbitration by agreement is not a bad idea.

I fully agree with some of your points. Personal freedom is far more important than following something imposed on you. Hence my general disdain of the tenets of organised religion. My dismissal is based on having never having to abide by Scripture but I can fully understand the thoughts of those scarred by it. You are speaking from within being a regular church goer so my respect for your input is rather high.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 20 Nov 13 - 04:32 PM

You're right, Musket, (and I'm touched by your respectful post) Sharia is based on arbitration by elders, and is usually biased in favour of the status quo, and can be dismissive of women's needs and rights. But my husband is a Sunni Muslim from Ivory Coast and has never had recourse to Sharia there. However, in, say, Saudi Arabia, Muslim tenets are I believe very strictly enforced. Women aren't even allowed to drive. Even non-Muslims must tow the line. A female friend accompanied her husband on a business trip to Riyadh and wore what she thought was a full-length dress, only to have the religious police whip her legs with a huge cane as she walked along the street. She caught the next flight home, and her hubby had to go it alone! I can see Steve's point of view regarding indoctrination. It can amount to brainwashing and makes it very difficult for an individual to break away and follow their private conscience (as with, say, strictly-controlled Amish people) I believe many Catholics in the West (to get back to the thread) practise contraception, have single-sex relationships etc and try to come to terms with their consciences as best they can. It isn't good to treat ones religion as a pick-and-mix menu, but all life is a compromise and that goes for religion too. I personally feel that God is much greater than all this and has compassion for our doubts and needs. I also feel the present Pope is a man of humility and understanding, ao maybe he will be able to change some things to bring them in line with modern times.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Nov 13 - 05:29 PM

You know, Steve, they use a little bit of water and a tiny dab of oil in christening, and they say a few words. I doubt that baptism does any permanent harm to those tiny babies, nor does teaching them religious traditions and taking them to church instead of leaving them home.

Your description of a religious upbringing has the same, dramatic tabloid "spin" that Hitchens used in his "expose" of Mother Teresa. In both cases, the reality is far less dramatic and far more mundane.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: BS: The Pope's Survey
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 20 Nov 13 - 05:54 PM

Authoritarian education can inflict real damage - Steve is a living example. However, dispensing with ethics and leadership altogether is no solution either, and would not be possible anyway. Any remedy must be preceded by precise analysis, "venom" (to quote Liz) is of little help.


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Mudcat time: 20 September 6:44 AM EDT

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