April 03, 2005

The Catholic Church After Pope John Paul II

With the death of Pope John Paul II the media is spending significant time on his legacy. Many reports talk about how the Pope was a charismatic man who was an undisputed leader in fighting against the western ideas he said were promoting a culture of death. They also mention his respect for other religions as one of his greatest legacies.

Yet, as Steve Gilliard says, the Pope has another legacy that has caused enormous problems for Catholics going forward. Steve talks about how he refused to deal with the problem of pedophile priests. And, indeed, rewarding the Archbishop that was responsible for some of the worse excesses is truly inexplicable.

But, the problem of pedophile priests is just one symptom of the problem that the Pope had with human sexuality. Consider how many of his pronouncements were about humans and their sexuality. Even his statement that women could never be priests, one of the only times he declared his edict infallible, was predicated on his belief that only celibate men could act as intercessors to God.

Things that the Pope found sinful were: artificial contraception, women as priests, homosexuality, and married priests. By making human sexuality something that is outside the search for meaning and for connection to God, the Pope undermined the ability to promote sexual health which would prevent the problems of priests turning to hidden and certainly more sinful forms of sexual behavior.

The woman's movement has long supported a healthier attitude to human sexuality and fought against the hardedged patriarchy that desires to keep women in their place because the consequences are so unhealthy for so many people. The world desperately needs to have a healthier and more respectful attitude to human sexuality. Acknowledging human sexuality and then promoting the values that allow humans to have healthy sexual relations will go a long way to preventing unwanted births, AIDs, and the use of sex as a tool for controlling someone else. Keeping the priesthood an exclusive club for celibate males guarentees the Catholic Church will be unable to participate in this discussion.

Posted by Mary at April 3, 2005 01:50 PM | Religion | Technorati links |

Totally agree. I'd add that I find it humorous how many people think there's a chance this will ever change.

Of the 117 cardinals selecting a new pope, 114 are nominated by JPII. They will undoubtedly select someone in his image.

In my opinion, the issues you raise, while definitely important, aren't realistically going to be addressed by the new pontiff. The best we can hope for is that the issues are actually put on the table for discussion.

I know that sounds defeatist, but we're talking about one of the most conservative, close-minded groups on the planet. I should know; I was one once :)

Posted by: the bachelor at April 3, 2005 04:12 PM

Great Post!
Pope Election 2005: Al Sharpton for Pope!
{ spective.blog.com }

In all seriousness, I sincerely hope wisdom prevails and they choose [pro-choice and faithful] a liberal, spiritual man (even better if it was a woman) and not a reactionary, religious crust ball.

Fools can only hope!


Posted by: TABS Golden at April 3, 2005 08:19 PM

Why do you care? The Catholic church is what it is. Nobody is forced to join, save perhaps the babies at baptism, and nobody is forced to stay. So if this particular sect chooses to hold fast to its past, and you don't like it, pick a different one, or none at all,or start your own.

As a liberal, I just don't get the denegration of the beliefs of others, and or the need to recommend methods of improvement to an organization that seems to have survived for more than a couple of years, doing what it's doing, especially when done by my progressive bretheren.

Posted by: macy at April 4, 2005 07:46 PM

Why do we care? Unfortunately, in some parts of the world the Catholic church has significant power to affect people who aren't members, and sometimes there is very strong social pressure to belong to the church that makes it unrealistic to expect individuals to simply leave.

Posted by: felice at April 4, 2005 10:24 PM

macy, personally, I think the Catholic Church is a force for good because it really does believe Jesus' teachings about our obligations to others. And I cheered when the Pope made it clear that the Iraq war was wrong.

However, I think that it could have a much stronger voice in helping humanity during this perilous century if it could come to terms with the human condition - including our sexuality. How do we create a world where human beings practice real love for each other and are willing to sacrifice so that our grandchildren will have an earth worth inhabiting? Saying don't have sex except to have children does nothing to help us slow population growth in the future. The Pope could have helped us come up with answers, but did not. Rather his alienation with our sexual nature compounds the alienation many feel towards their own sexuality and this twists itself in to unhealthy sexual actions - including using someone else as a thing for your own satisfaction.

Posted by: Mary at April 4, 2005 10:46 PM

Mary-I heard Vatican officials speak of the Iraq war, but cannot find a direct quote from the pope other than saying war must be a last resort. This was a sore point with me as I had made a similar statement to a Catholic friend. Please let me know where to look for it. As for sexuality, my point remains the same. Let those who choose to follow the Roman Catholic rite, follow the rules, or follow their hearts and consciences elsewhere. The pope seems to have followed his mores, why would anyone, let alone an obviously enlightened individual such as yourself, join, or better yet, start a crusade to bring about the changes you articulate?

felice-thank you for the smile. I couldn’t help but reflect the situation you describe is precisely the one John Paul was instrumental in changing in the Soviet block. That says two things to me. One, give the devil his due, as the Poles seem much happier today than under Soviet oppression; and two, there is literally nothing that can’t be achieved if one is willing to dedicate one’s life to it…

Posted by: macy at April 5, 2005 12:36 PM

I care because the pope has the ability to smother the will, extinguish the quest for knowledge for many, and horribly affect the global population with one simple doctrine, and the mindless hoards follow his blabbering, and the mindless hoards happen to be in my general vicinity. I speak for Brain Power, not dependency on dogma in substitution for a real, natural spirituality. The Pope's and the church's foolishness affects approx 1/4 of the world's entire population (give or take). We need a power figure with more wisdom and not be so damn naive (like your post).

Why don't you share your thoughts on my blog as well (you are relatively articulate):

{please excuse the blog-promotion, I'm just a fan of Pacific Views!}

Posted by: TABS at April 5, 2005 08:33 PM

Just out of blind curiousity, where do you, and the mindless hoards, reside?

Posted by: macy at April 6, 2005 03:40 PM

Right next door to you. My blog has where I reside. http://home.earthlink.net/~spective/

Posted by: TABS at April 6, 2005 05:57 PM

Macy, I hadn't had a chance to hunt down the news sources that showed the Pope was against Bush's war (certainly there was a lot in the news before the war), but fortunately, julia tracked down and laid out the evidence in a post at the American Street yesterday. The Pope was quite anti-Bush's war (actually any war that was not considered a just war) and continued to be quite vocal about it.

Posted by: Mary at April 7, 2005 07:08 AM

I find it laughable, as in non-sensical, the notion that pedophiles priests are otherwise sexually healthy men who have found no release for their sexual energies and thus turn towards other means of gratification. Now, if you had a study that you could site that would tend to point towards that mechanism as the cause of sexually deviant behavior, I might change my mind, but otherwise, on the face of it, that argument is just stupid and hateful anti-Catholic propoganda.

Now, your screed against the the position of the chruch re: human sexuality is indicative of a profound ignorance of Church doctrine. The Church has acknowldeged human sexuality, and like any number of physical urges the Church insists that it is practice in a morally good fashion. Just because the Church answers to a higher moral law and does not license your sexual predilictions, or the general desire to kill babies, does not mean they hate you. In fact, the Church is the one institution that insists that men and women face the natural consequences of their actions. They have duties and obligations that go beyond the satisfaction of brute physical urges.

Allowing a lesser evil in order to prevent a greater evil is not a game the Church will engage in mainly because it's timeline is eternity, not an individual human life. And, by the way, at least in the case of Uganda and AIDS, Church doctrine comes out ahead in the cost/benefit analysis.

To ask for anything else, say a Church that allows, indeed promotes, condom usage, is insane: the fundamental nature of the institution will not allow for it.

Try www.newadvent.com for more information regarding Church doctrine, reasoning, policy, and arguments.

Posted by: Prentice Pilot at April 13, 2005 01:07 PM